Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Source, Citations and Evidence

The idea of adding a source to an individual or an event attached to an individual is a difficult topic. Despite the educational efforts of a core group of genealogists, most of the casually involved genealogical community patently ignores the entire topic. It is convenient to pick on the huge online family trees as the most egregious examples of failure to provide sources, but that ignores the historical nature of the problem and the fact that sources have been added to family group records for many years. Perhaps we should do less handwringing and realize that some genealogists have been providing source citations for a many years.  For example, if you have LDS Access to the Family Tree you can access the Family Group Records Collection, Archives Section, 1942 to 1969 in the Historical Record Collections. This collection is described as follows:
Forms submitted by LDS Church members to the Genealogical Society of Utah, now the Family History Department, for processing prior to performing proxy ordinances. Completed ordinances were recorded on these forms. The completed forms were filed in the Family Group Records Archive collection. The forms are filed in alphabetical order by surname and given name.
 There are 5,337,178 images in this one collection. The Research Wiki on gives the following suggestions concerning these particular records:
  • Use this information as a guideline. Be aware that the information has not been verified and may have come from the submitters memory or from family records.
  • These are compiled records so each sheet may have many sources of information.
  • If you are unable to find your ancestor look for various spellings of the names.
As a matter of note, these records are not the only user submitted records in the Family History Library's collection. There is another section called the Patrons Section. These records are described as follows;
Three million family group records were submitted to the Patrons Section between 1926-1979. The purpose was to share genealogical information and identify others working on the same lines. Each collection has some names that cannot be found in other filmings. The family group records often included a brief list of the sources used to compile the record. Sometimes the sources specify old film numbers or book numbers used by the Family History Library. Some records also included biographical histories for the family members listed on the form. In many instances several records have been submitted for the same family unit. Comparison of these records will sometimes reveal discrepancies. The collection binders have been removed from circulation so these records are available only on microfilm.
Having huge collections of user submitted family group records, similar to today's online family trees, is far from a recent phenomena. In fact, I began my survey of my own family genealogy by copying records from these huge collections. I later realized that I needed to check to see if the records had valid source citations. I also began the process of adding sources to my own records.

As stated above, these records are arranged alphabetically so it is relatively easy to locate one specific record. Here is an example of one of my distant relatives from a record that includes sources:

You can see from this record that the space dedicated to records on the form was pretty skimpy. Many people resorted to typing more information across the form or on the back. Here is another example of a record for a Tanner family that I am not related to:

Here is yet another example of a more cryptic entry:

Now, you will note that the first example I provided above for Henry Colvin Tanner has several source citations. I looked up this same individual in's Family Tree and found the following list of source citations for him:

You might question the validity of the source entry on the second record that says only "Self Knowledge" but isn't that a valid source? With a little bit of historical background, I think we can conclude that adding source citations is alive and well. There may be many unsourced records, but there are also many that have multiple sources. 


  1. Source, Citations and Evidence . . . [the fact that sources have been added to family group records for many years.] James Tanner, I have worked with these records in the past. I am thinking on the lines of "If you care enough to save the very best". I note that in the US Census records that have been indexed and processed, for example, they have the "Citing this Record" information at the bottom of the page. At the top of the page is "Attach to Family Tree". So, by the very methodology being used by the said organization, the degree of value therein is indicated by added perks on how to connectivity relate to the said record. Let us regain our senses (census; etc.) again. I have seen the original stories where mention is made in early family records, individuals took weeks to get to Temples to do various ordinances for deceased relatives. To honor them and all others that have gone before us, and to drastically speed up the processing and citing in the records, it seems reasonable to me, that all early Church records out of copyright, or in copyright with Church regulation, can be so constructed, so that all data files are automatically computer attachable to family tree, as well as properly sourced, such as in the US census records. Using the general concept of match comparison, by computer mega data sorts, persons working in Family Tree, would have direct review access to these types of records, TIB, etc., so that, like in MyHeritage, patrons can be asked: Do these fit?; or, Do these connect? If so, please attach as documentation or evidence source. In the process, even unlearned persons like myself, will automatically be documenting correctly.

    I can carry the idea on further. All the records indexed in Family History Books should have the same data capabilities, for those who are approved for usage; and then one more significant step. Make the same format available for WorldCat records, data in the Archive Grid, Genealogies, those presented in FamilySearch Catalog and Wiki.

    THEN, AND ONLY THEN, will the professional genealogy community and otherwise, newbie to expert, as I have stated heretofore, recover our senses; i.e, all of the hard and laborious work done all over the world in behalf of family research. Go forward and reclaim and become the foremost scholarly sourced, global research facility in all the world.

    All that it takes is an attitude change at the top; the will to DO IT, coupled with the concentration of a massive world wide indexing endeavor, in a legal and lawful process, combined with all interested parties and agencies, among every nation, kindred, tongue and people. We are no better than those who marked the path before us.

    Reference - General:
    3 Yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels.

    Reference - Individual:
    12 And again, I say unto you, I remember my servant Oliver Granger; behold, verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord.

    13 Therefore, let him contend earnestly for the redemption of the First Presidency of my Church, saith the Lord; and when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord.

    14 Therefore, let him come up hither speedily, unto the land of Zion; and in the due time he shall be made a merchant unto my name, saith the Lord, for the benefit of my people.

    15 Therefore let no man despise my servant Oliver Granger, but let the blessings of my people be on him forever and ever.

      How does this sound in the ears of the wise?
      Oliver Granger Family History and Genealogy Memorial Library.

      According to Elder David A. Bednar, "The Spirit of Elijah, meanwhile, is a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family. This divine influence bears powerful witness of the Father’s plan of happiness and inspires people to search out their ancestors and family members, both past and present." It is my opinion, therefore, that any child of God, which is that exact relationship all humanity has with our Heavenly Father, can obtain, by the process of doing family genealogy and history work, the constant aid and companionship of the Holy Ghost, in performing this wonderful work of salvation for God's family.

      Indeed, it offers the key methodology of turning the wrath of God away from the nations of the earth, in that it is an effective means of renouncing war, for peace:
      [I, the Lord, will avenge thee of thine enemy an hundred-fold; And upon his children, and upon his children’s children of all them that hate me, unto the third and fourth generation. But if the children shall repent, or the children’s children, and turn to the Lord their God, with all their hearts and with all their might, mind, and strength, and restore four-fold for all their trespasses wherewith they have trespassed, or wherewith their fathers have trespassed, or their fathers’ fathers, then thine indignation shall be turned away; And vengeance shall no more come upon them, saith the Lord thy God, and their trespasses shall never be brought any more as a testimony before the Lord against them. Amen.] By providing data and records for LDS Temple Ordinance processing, individuals and families; are figuratively, irrespective of present religious affiliation, raising their right arms to the square, and actively sustaining Jesus Christ as their God, as Son Ahman, as their Eternal King over the Kingdom of God upon the earth, as the President, High Priest, Prophet, Seer, Translator, and Revelator of His only true Church; namely, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.