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The setup for adding and choosing sources is the same in several parts of the system, when updating people, documents, and pictures.  One source can be linked to an unlimited number of records.

Note the distinction between documents and sources.  A document is the text or abstract of a historical text such as a deed, will, census listing, newspaper article, etc, and can be entered separately.  A source is where this document came from - a book, a library, a website, etc.  A source may also be for information that is not a document, such as a website, email correspondence, or personal knowledge.  While it is always good to have documents as proof for secondary sources, it may not always be possible.

Do's and Don'ts
Based on what's been entered by others on online, here are some suggested do's and don'ts:
  • Your own name or email address alone are not sources, unless the information comes directly out of your personal memory -- like the information for your immediate family.  Instead, reference the place where you found the information.
  • Google.com is not a source.  Reference the website you found through Google.
  • A source entry typically does not contain any information about individual people in your branch, unless you received information from that person.  The source lists where you found the information, not what you found.
  • When quoting a large website like Rootsweb or FamilySearch as a source, use a specific URL for a collection or section of the website, rather than the website in general.  Actually you won't be able to enter "www.familysearch.org" or "ancestry.com" as a source.  There are several reasons for this:
    --- If you go back to lookup the source later, you won't know where on the website it was.
    --- If someone else reads this and wants to get more information, they won't know where to go.
    --- When quoting other online family trees, it's good to reference the specific researcher, so that they get the credit for their work.  For example, when in someone's tree, you could click their "index" link, and quote that as the source for all information from that researcher.
  • Look at the information from the point of view of someone browsing -- does the source give them enough information to know where to go to find the same information?
  • Whenever possible, use online sources that are publically accessible, vs. the same source on a paid service -- then it will be accessible by other people.

  • Do not quote different sources in one source.  Add a new source for each, and link each to the related people.

Adding a New Source:

There are two ways of creating a source.  Below shown in RED is where ou create and select a custom source, which can be any book, website, correspondence, or other information you want to quote.  More information below.

The second way to add a source is using one of the pre-defined websites listed in the "Sites" dropdown list, outlined above in BLUEMore information below.

Shown in GREEN are sources that are already attached to the record.  More information below.

Shown on the right in PURPLE are options to connect each source to individual fields. More information below.

Adding a custom source
  1. Each custom source can be re-used as many times as needed, as so it's important to search first, just in case you added it before.  To search, click "Add/Pick Source" and then as you type in the fields on the left, matching sources will appear on the right.  Then click one to select it and return.
  2. If the source is not found, then continue filling in the fields on teh left.  Fill in any information as needed, and save.  Note that some of the source fields may not be applicable for some sources -- just leave them blank.  The main thing is so that someone else can look at your source, and from there find the same information that you found.
Below are a few examples:
After saving, a source added is automatically be added to the list of "Recent" sources, and selected for the current record.
Verifiability: With each source is an option to label the reliability or verifiability of the source.  Wherever sources show up, a color-code corresponding to this option will also appear, giving you and your readers a quick glance at how verifiable the sources are.
  • 99% Verifiable; Primary or direct evidence -- Knowledge of your immediate family, census records, wills, certificates, etc.
  • Probable; Secondary evidence -- Published works
  • Shared from other researchers, but solid work -- Researchers who do excellent work, to distinguish them from all other researchers quoted
  • Shared from other researchers, all others
  • Speculation; Questionable
  • Unreliable

Auto-link:  All selected sources are automatically added to the dropdown lists under "Auto-Link" and "Recent".  Only the sources that are selected in these dropdown lists will be linked to the record being added or edited.  If a source under "Auto-Link" is selected, it will also be pre-selected for all future records added or edited, until the end of your session, or until you blank out this choice.
Recent:  If you need to link a source just once, rather than repeatedly, choose it under "Recent", and save.

Adding a Pre-Defined Source
If one of the pre-defined websites covers the source  you want to add, it is much quicker to use this, vs. adding a custom source.  These include:

  • Findagrave.com -- a person's memorial page, not the homepage or search results.
  • Wikipedia.com -- a page about a person.
  • FamilySearch.org - a document (census, marriage record, etc.) about a person, not the homepage or search results.
  • ncpedia.org -- Encyclopedia of NC, a bio page about a person.
  • encyclopediaofarkansas.net -- Encyclopedia of Arkansas, a bio page about a person.
  • encyclopediavirginia.org -- Encyclopeida Virginia, a bio page about a person.
  • www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers.htm -- an index to US Civil War soldiers.
  • services.dar.org/Public/DAR_Research/search/?Tab_ID=1 -- DAR Ancestor Search
  • wikiquote.com -- quotes by a person
  • billiongraves.com --- a person's memorial page
  • valleyforgemusterroll.org -- service record at Valley Forge, PA

Findagrave and Wikipedia can only be used once per person, as they have only one primary page per person.  Other pages can be added as custom sources, if needed.

Just copy & paste into the "Site Information" field the website address of one of the pre-defined websites.  If it is recognized, the corresponding website will show in the space to the right of the field.  That's all that is needed.

For FamilySearch.org documents, one other difference -- the system will retrieve the collection title from FamilySearch, and display that with your source after saving.

Related To...
To the right of each selected source are checkboxes, one for most of the fields, including the title, first name, last name, occupation, general notes, and the date, place, and notes for each event. To show that a source relates specifically to one or more of these fields, check the appropriate box(es). These are optional. The sources will still appear at the bottom, whether checked or not.
When checked, a small number will show after the field, corresponding the numbered sources at the bottom of the page.

Unlink Source:
Sources previously attached to the current record appear in a list below the selection fields.  To unlink a source, click the source's radio button, click "Unlink Source", and save.

Displaying Source information:
The source information you attach to a person is displayed at the bottom of their page.  When someone else browses into the page, this is what tells them where you found your information.

A couple notes:
  • When a source is a general Rootsweb page linking to the index of someone's database, like this below:


    then when this link shows as a source, the ancestor's name will be added to the URL, so that the Rootsweb page is positioned at or near that ancestor's name in the index list.  Thus you don't need to specify a direct URL for each person, but the link will still at least get close to their name...  At least easier than searching for the name.

Manage Sources
To edit or delete a source, go to the overall list of sources found under the Account > Manage Sources page.  Here you can search through the whole list, sort it, see how many records are linked to each source, and edit source information.   The count of linked records is the total of the sources linked to individual people, documents, pictures, and change log records.

To edit, delete, or list linked records, first click  a source.  The hover highlight color should stop moving.  Then click the corresponding button.  To select another source, click any record and the hover highlighting will move again.

Think about it from the opposite point of view.  Suppose you've been searching for years for a long lost relative, and finally find them mentioned on a website.  The person who posted is no longer reachable, and he/she didn't leave any source information.  So you have no leads to follow, and you doubt the accuracy, as you can't verify it anywhere.  You are doing the same thing if you quote yourself, if you say "various online resources", if you quote a website that doesn't exist, or if you just say "ancestry.com" -- then you are essentially leaving no trail for anyone to follow.

Set a high standard, and challenge yourself to go beyond it.

Updated: 2-3-2017