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When you find a new source, add the details of what you learn to the family group record. Update the names, dates, places, relationships, and source footnote information. There should be at least one source-footnote for every event on the family group record. In the source-footnote comment field add a brief preliminary evaluation of each source.
More than one footnote per event. Your family group record should show EVERY source you have found for an event. There may be more than one source that has information about the same event—cite each. If you find discrepancies between the sources, use the footnote comment field to explain what you think accounts for the differences.
More than one event per source. Some sources give information about several events. For example, many death certificates list information about the birth of the deceased. Add a separate footnote to the family group record for each event mentioned on a source. For example, cite the death certificate as the source for both birth and death information. The Personal Ancestral File’s Memorize Citation button makes it easy to copy a citation from one event to another.
Add custom events to the family group record. Family group records can and should list more than birth, marriage, and death events only. The more events and sources that are listed, the more clues you have to help guide your research to further records. For example, each census, military service, immigration, joining a religion, and having a will proved, all make excellent entries on a family group record. Be sure to cite the source of each.
The new information may correct earlier information, answer questions, or pose new questions. Where new information conflicts with what is already on the forms, try to determine which is correct. Use the principles from Evaluate the Evidence to help. You may want to record both pieces of information until you can determine which, if either, is correct.
Cite Your Sources
Every time you add new information to your forms or database, cite the source of that information. You may record sources on the bottom or back of most family group record forms or on an attached sheet. If you are using a computer program, there is usually a field for recording source notes.
Citing your sources will—
- Help you and other researchers avoid duplicate searches later.
- Give other family researchers confidence in your research.
- Enable other family researchers to check you sources for additional information.
could easily find the source later.
Without documenting sources, your information is unproven. As you cite a source, be sure anyone could (1) readily locate or identify the source later and (2) evaluate the validity of the source. You should usually include—
- Author’s Name or provider of information.
- Title of the record or book.
- Place of the original information (such as a county courthouse, or a book’s city and publisher.)
- Date of information (if a book or manuscript, year of production.)
- Page or entry number, telling where the information is in the record.
- Location of the copy you examined (a call number for library materials, or the person who has possession of the record.)
- Preliminary evaluation of the source in the source footnote comment field.
Only cite the sources you have seen. If you received information second-hand from others, identify the person who provided the information, such as “Lakeshore Cemetery as researched by John Leland.”
Examples of recorded sources:
- From personal knowledge: “Thelma Winter, daughter of George and Grace Winter, statement made at Los Angeles, 24 June 1976. She was present at the funeral of her sister, Margaret.”
- From family sources: “Maude Family Bible; p. 614, copy owned by David Merrik, American Fork, Utah. Births of the children appear to have been recorded on the date they occurred.”
“Letter from John Schmitt, Boston, MA, to Sally Hansen n Chicago, IL dated 4 June 1883; photocopy in possession of Aaron Jones, Santa Clara, CA.”
“Family group record of Aaron Pierce in possession of Albert Fairfield, 1318 Wilmont Drive, Medford, Oregon. Original source unknown.”
- From a published book: “Mary Coffin Johnson, The Higleys and Their Ancestry, 1630-1892. New York: D. Appleton, 1896; pp 9-15; (Sutro C571 H639 1896).”
- From a manuscript document or certificate: “Probate packet for Lawrence Mitchell; County Clerk; Sullivan Co. NH, Will dated 3 August 1838, probate settled 6 June 1846; photocopy in possession of Aaron Jones, Santa Clara, CA.”
“Birth Cert of Harriet Meyerink; 1918; Dept of Vital Statistics, Sacramento CA, Cert #342890; in possession of Aaron Jones, Santa Clara, CA.”
“Census: 1850 Lincoln Co. NE; E.D. 47; p. 271; FHL film 973025.”
For records from a library or archives, include the repository name and call numbers (a film or book number) or document numbers. For example, for a record from the Famiy History Library, add the following to your description:
“FHL film 906828 item 3”
“FHL book 974.9 H2ne”
As you document your findings—
- Be consistent in the format you use.
- Avoid unfamiliar abbreviations.
- List all the sources used to support your findings.
- Identify any conflicting or missing information.
- Indicate if additional research is needed.
For more information on recording sources and footnote style guides see Cite Your Sources (Source Footnotes).