Source citation newspaper

was:, Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) (Name: Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations  Inc, 2006. Original data – Oakland Tribune. Oakland, CA, USA. Database  created from microfilm copies of the newspaper. Original data: Oakland  Tribune. Oakland, CA, USA. Database created from microf;)

is: Oakland (California) Tribune. Online publication, Provo, UT, 2006. Database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper.

American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI) details on usefulness

This source needs more explanation. It’s a frequent Hint -that’s a shaky leaf hint- on Ancestry. My first reaction was, ‘what a great resource, an index of all these published works.’ My second reaction was ‘what a scam, this is a bogus low quality source masked as a quality source.’ My third and current reaction is ‘what a great index providing paths to actual sources available on HathiTrust and’- frequently with volume and page information included.

An example is Richard Smith b. 1589 in England. He has three separate AGBI hints. The page and volume numbers match only if I’m looking at the same edition and format referenced in the AGBI index. I wish the the full title, publisher and place of publication were provided in this AGBI index but its not so locating the referenced source can take time.

  1. A genealogical dict. of the first settlers of New England, showing three generations of those who came before May, 1692. By James Savage. Boston. 1861. (4v.)v.4:326. Number 1 is at HathiTrust.  free, searchable easy copy/paste, save and download options. The Volume no. is correct Volume 4, page no. is way off. Smiths begin around page 120 and there are lots of Smiths. I read through about 7 ‘Richard Smiths’ (starting here) and did not find one that fit my Richard Smith. I’ve already ignored this AGBI hint on Ancestry and won’t add it to my tree. The value of the Hint is link it gives me to a possible great source. Number 1 was a dud, though. I’ve found no useable info here.
  2. A recd. Of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the founding of a nation. Ed. By Ezra S. Stearns. New York, 1908. (4v.):1621 Ancestors of Henry Montgomery Smith and Cath. Forshee. By Annie Morrill Smith. Brooklyn, NY. 1921. (139p.):49. Number 2 has 2 sources The first is also at HathiTrust. Ezra Stearns authored 2 volumes A recd. Of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the founding of a nation, one for Connecticut and one for New Hampshire. Looking at both Volume 4 page 1621 I find nothing.  Since this will take a loooong time to decipher, I’ll save this Hint in the Maybe category and come back to the Ezra Stearns books at some point.The second source is at HathiTrust, a different title: ‘Ancestors of Henry Montgomery Smith and Catherine Forshee, and their descendants to the present time’  I found it by author, on the exact page 49;view=1up;seq=55 but it’s not my 11th great grandfather Richard Smith who was only in Connecticut. The referenced Richard Smith was in Narragansett with Roger Williams and an original of the Bull Smith clan? and had a son connected with Andros, nope. I chose No for this Hint- it’s not for my tree.
  3. Directory of the anc. heads of New England fams. Comp. By Frank R. Holmes. NewYork, 1923. (274p.):221. Number 3 is not a free online source. I can find it at Google books and World Cat but no free searchable copies- so I can’t evaluate the information right now. It is a book for check out at Open Library, I can join a waiting list. I’ll put this on hold. This same book probably also refers to the more famous Richard Smith of the time, not the Richard in my tree.

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (NEHGR) links provides a table of NEHGR links. Links include surname and place indexes and full volumes from vol 1 published 1847 to vol 169 published 2015. Volumes through 76 published in 1922 are free on Google books and/or Internet Archive. Free. Links to American Ancestors paid volumes 1-169 are also provided.

Check out this most helpful page here:

So I’m in the process of moving all the paid NEHGR sources to the free NEHGR sources. It’s a burden pay for these sources on Ancestry when they are provided free elsewhere. And a boon to the sources is that they can be opened as PDFs or ‘full text’ formats so copying and pasting requires no effort and involves none of the odd formatting issues of Free and Easy.

I appreciate the link formats on and They’re short and descriptive.

Town Clerk Records may or may not be actual records of historical Town Clerks

On sources are odd. Sources titled something like, Massachusetts Town Clerk Vital Records, turn out to be NOT the records of a town clerk in Massachusetts a long time ago, but the work of a person like me, something found then transcribed, conclusions drawn, maybe actual proof, maybe not. Example below. Labeled as Mass. Town and Vital Records, it’s actually the work of Mr. Stoughton from the 1960s. He was surely conscientious and knowledgeable, but still, his work can’t be recorded as the work of Massachusetts Town clerks from the 1620s? Can it?

Source Information Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Original data: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook). link requires a paid subscription, here’s a screen shot.

Anc example

Other sources that may not be high quality:

American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI)

Ancestry Family Trees

Family Data Collection – Births, Deaths, Individual Records, Marriages

Millennium File

U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s

U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900

U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current:

Find a Grave is completely unverified and put together by well meaning volunteers who may or may not see and transcribe the correct names, dates, etc. When saving FindAGrave as an Ancestry source birth and death dates are cited with Find a Grave as the source, but most times the birth and death dates are not verified, and the burial is only verified if there’s a readable headstone, I think.

U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970

American Marriages Before 1699

Web: Netherlands, Genealogie Online Trees Index, 1000-2015

These are a few of the big low quality sources. When I first began using Ancestry I had these sources for every single person, whenever available. Now that I understand they’re kind of bogus and not worth much as far as proof I tend to use them only as a placeholder for a better source or a way to follow a trail.


Citations are road maps

At Evidence Explained Elizabeth Shown Mills’s website

Every time we use a source, we want to create a citation that helps us. We’re not trying to satisfy Miss Thistlebottom so she won’t give us a D-minus. We’re creating a citation that will give us the directions we need. Page numbers in books, file numbers for documents, distinctions between editions—or between versions imaged by multiple online providers … all of these are not roadside weeds to annoy us. They are mile markers that keep us headed in the right direction.

Most helpful. I’ve been looking into using Source Templates in FTM3, “these source templates are based on the Quick Check models defined in the book Evidence Explained”. I’ve edited 1790, 1800, 1810 and 1820 census source templates from Ancestry default, which I believe is ‘blank’ to source template: census; then category: digital images; then template: population schedule. ‘Digital images’ reverts to microfilm, can’t change it which seems odd.

Also odd once I’ve changed the source template there is absolutely no way to go back to ‘blank’. There is a way to further edit the more detailed source, but not in FTM- on in the Edit Source space. I’ve put this on hold.

Mac Family Tree and RootsMagic also have ways to further classify sources.

Those SAR and DAR organizations 2016 Jun 30

Sarah Dewey’s (5th great grandmother) parents are in the U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 for Sarah Witter (mom) and U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 for Sarah Dewey. These membership apps show Sarah’s parents from the Dewey and Connable families. I’ve not used the SAR applications as sources not sure how true they are. Both these applications are 10+ pages with a lot of ancestry details. I’ll read them and evaluate. I visited the DAR site and after controversies in the 50s and 60s, 70s they now allow non-white persons in their society. They also verify claims, since about 1974. They also offer their records freely through their GRS Genealogical Research System. And the DAR Ancestor Search contains a ton of information on Revolutionary era ancestors.  “The best way to search for ancestors is by last and first name only, no other details. The ancestor number in this search is not the same as the SAR and/or DAR number that you may find in sources.”

History and Law, Sources and Evidence

This incredibly helpful and well-written article “Evidence and Sources and How They Differ” by Donn Devine adds another level of confusion to the citation and documentation of citing sources in genealogy. The article is in Ancestry Magazine May/June 1997, available on Google Books.

screenshot 2

My summary: The concept of source comes from social sciences, history and is the means by which information comes to a researcher, the container or vessel. Primary sources are the earliest or first pieces of recorded information. Secondary are published works, electronic, copied, compiled or reflecting the conclusion of a researcher.

The concept of evidence comes from law as in wills and probates. Evidence is the physical form in which information is presented to the senses and comes in 3 forms

  • testimonial
  • documentary
  • physical

The testimonial and documentary evidence has to be given with formality or solemnity, like with an oath.

As with a historian’s source , a lawyer’s evidence can vary from reliable to questionable. Courts separate the evidence into inadmissible = not reliable; and admissible = worth considering with varying degrees of reliability.

The term evidence came into genealogy  with the 1979 book Genealogical Evidence by Stevenson. The book encouraged weighing and evaluating evidence. The legal concept of Primary Evidence was also in the book, defined as the best evidence possible.

Genealogists now speak of evidence and primary evidence. There is a tendency to use the term primary source for the material that contributed to the research but not for the evidence or primary evidence the conclusions were based on. When sources and evidence are used together without distinction sources are more likely to refer to secondary sources, and evidence refers to documents used to reach conclusions.

Proof is a name for a process, not the same thing as evidence, not a document or source. Stevenson’s book described levels of proof from his experience as a lawyer

  • absolute
  • beyond a reasonable doubt
  • ‘more probable than not’ the standard applied to most civil court trials.

How evidence is used to prove a point depends on if it directly applies to the issue, or if conclusions are drawn based on relationships to the issue. Direct evidence is a birth record. Indirect evidence is a man receiving an inheritance even though no birth record exists, just a census record with him in the home and the inheritance.

IN summary there are no absolute rules. To avoid confusion think of sources as the published works that lead you to reliable records. Use evidence for the records that support confusion and primary evidence when records are original.

I think genealogy is buried in fussy record keeping. The kind where several bits of punctuation have to be just so for any record to work. Maybe this is based on library cataloging of the 1980s when each and every bit of punctuation had to be entered in a massive string of chronological order designed to make records universally readable. I don’t know, just thinking about it.

When I entered the field of family history in Spring of 2015 I plowed ahead on Family [FREE] and [$] clicking here and there, adding records, sources were auto created and cited for me. There was no need to document or cite anything, I thought. When my two trees were at 2000 people each and I was just getting a little concerned about how all these ancestors, records, documents, dates, names, media, citations, sources, how it all came together in an organized, easy to manage library.

In looking at some of the records and sources auto generated by or Family Tree Maker I saw trouble. A lot of records were auto saved without any kind of source citation. *Anyone that enjoys genealogy knows that records and sources cannot be evaluated without a citation*. I’m reading this highly helpful article for the 3rd or 4th time.