Proper use of sources

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Time and effort should always be made in order to make proper use of sources. Every little bit of information gleamed from somewhere (a source) in order to help you reconstruct your family tree should be documented i.e. every bit of information should cite a source record, whether this be published data in birth, marriage and death certificates, census data or the fragile memory of your great-grandmother, or even your own first-hand knowledge. Having these sources available and citing them for each bit of information your record will help others verify your work, find sources that support your conjecture, and help you in 12 months time when you come to work on a distant branch of your tree and think "how do I know Miss Jane Unknown married Mr John Doe".

PGV follows the GEDCOM standards for storing sources and citations to those sources and as such, there is quite a rigid way in which the data is entered. However, if you are in a hurry, it is always better to add a short note (in the Note field) to a piece of information then add the "formal" source data later, than to skip it entirely in a hope to do it at a later date.

Source and Source Citation

PGV adopts GEDCOM convention of separating a source (SOUR) record (describing in some detail the actual source), from the source citation. Source is separate record in the table of sources. Source Citation, attached to individual event, fact or person, is a reference to this record, with possible specific details (like page in the book, quote from the source, etc.) This structure lends itself easily to sources like books that may have many facts, and the citation specifies page(s) from the book, and appears to be overkill if grandmother's story is a source. However, the last can also be treated as a single source (especially useful if it is recorded), and different facts quoted from it. Even a one-page birth certificate can be a source for birth date, christening date, given name, parents names and ages, witnesses (possibly a family member), etc.


Source record can be created where a source citation is called for ("Add a Source Citation"): the form allows one to reference an existing source or to create a new one. Source record has the following fields (with Gedcom tags for reference):

Title (TITL)
Title of the source (book, publication title; document name, or any other descriptive title)
Abbreviation (ABBR)
Short title (useful only if the title is very long)
Author (AUTH)
Name of person, institution or other entity that created the document or supplied the information.
Publication (PUBL)
Information on where and when the source was created. For published sources the publisher name, place and year of publication is customary, for unpublished sources - where and when (and how) the source was created.
Repository (REPO)
Reference to a place, where original document is located. It can be somebody's home, a library, archive. In case of a book, any location likely to be accessible is OK. This is important to other researchers, who might need to reach original document. The Repository records are separate from the sources, as one repository can store many sources.
Call Number (CALN)
Formal call number for a source in a repository (useful for large repositories)
Text (TEXT)
Can include relevant text from the original source

You can also include

Media (OBJE)
References to a multimedia object, document, photo, etc. - see Sources and Multimedia.
Associated Events
Those are reverse links to events that can be associated with this source. (The forward links are created when you quote the sources, i.e. create a Source Citation associated with an event. The original Gedcom standards suggests an comma-delimited list of events, PGV allows you to enter the events separately. The Event description include:
  • Event (e.g Birth, Death, Burial etc.)
  • Date of the Event
  • Place of the event or region encompassing all events in the source
  • Agency

After creating a source you will be directed back to the Citation screen, where you can complete creating a citation. Pleae note, in PGV 4.1 the source will not be visible (even as change) nor accessible untill the changes are approved.

See also:

Source Citation

Source citation can be attached to almost anything: an individual, a family, and any fact or event, using "Add a Source Citation". As a rule of thumb, always add citation to a specific event or fact. Citations from 'general' sources , or sources not related to recorded events / facts can be attached to the individual or family. If the Source has already been created, you can enter the source ID or use the book icon to search for it. Alternatively, you can create a new source - see above.

Source (ID)
Reference to existing or newly created source. Use search or create icons to find a source or to create a new one.
Citation Details (PAGE)
Details, where in the Source can one find the specifically cited information. It can be page number (in a book), edition, issue and page (in a periodical), etc.
Text (TEXT)
Quote (or multiple quotes) from the source, apropriate to this citation.
Date of entry in original source (DATE)
Used if source has multiple entries with different dates
Quality of Data (QUAY)
One can desribe the quality (reliability) of the data here. Frequently used convention is numerical 3 = Direct and primary evidence; 2 = Secondary evidence; 1 = Questionable reliability data; 0 = Unreliable source or estimation.
Media (OBJE)
References to a multimedia object, document, photo, etc. - see Sources and Multimedia.

Sources and Multimedia

You can add a source to a Media Object (quoting a source of this media), and you can add media to a Source (illustrating the source) and to a Source Citation (illustrating the citation). Source records usually describe an external source, which can be a physical (paper) document. However, with the use of Multimedia tab, an electronic form of the whole source can be included. For example a story, memoir, book, if exists in electronic form, can be included here (as pdf, html etc), provided copyright is respected.

Media can be attached both to Source and to Source Citation. As a general rule, media attached to Source should pertain to the whole source, those attached to Citation should relate to the specific citation. If the Source is a single document (e.g. a certificate), and the Media is a scan of this document, the media reference can be added in three places: to the event, to event source citation, or the source itself. It will be displayed differently in each case - direcly on the Personal Facts and Details screen, on the same screen when the source is expanded, or with source only.

How to Structure Sources

As the number of sources grows, their maintenance may become a problem. Gedcom standard does not provide for any structure of sources, as they are thought of as published records, books etc, one for many citations. With the use of electronic media the number of individual sources can easily grow into thousands. Additional filters on the Source page in PGV would probably help in managing the sources collection.

Recent discussion in the PGV community revealed a solution that may be worth recommending. It involves creating an virtual book source of the same type, but not necessarily related sources. For example "Census" can be a single source. "All Email Communications" can be another. In the Source Citation one would provide the PAGE tag (Citation details) specifying where in the Source can you look for information - year and place for Census data, date stamp / sender for email etc. A collection of documents (accessible on a webpage) can be another Source, with document name / page as Citation details. Of course it is also possible to treat each document as Source and the webpage location as repository.

Gedcom view of sources

When looking at the various entries, remember that PGV uses pointers to separate GEDCOM records.

For example, 2 SOUR @S123@ means that the source for the 1-level fact (birth, death, adoption, etc) is described in record 0 @S123@ SOUR. The citation details (page, notes, text) are found in 3 and 4-level entries after the 2 SOUR entry that points to the main source for this fact.

The reason for this odd structure is that you can have many events that use the same basic source, with only citation details varying. For example, many people use a family bible as a source.

The zero-level record tells you "how to find the material". It gives details about the source title, the publisher, its condition, and where it is located. In the case of a microfilm or microfiche, you'd record the "where to find the film or fiche" in the zero-level record.

The n-level SOUR reference records "where to find the information once you've located the source material". This would be a page number in a book, an entry number in a register of births, a frame number in a film or microfiche, etc.

This structure is carried even further. The zero-level SOUR record contains a 1 REPO @Rnn@ entry. This points to a repository, library, or somebody's home. The repository (usually a library, a church office, or a public records office [Standesamt]) contains many different items of source material.

I keep a number of source items at my house, so my house is a repository. The family bible, which records births, deaths, and marriages from 1825 to 1900 is a source at this repository. Entries in this bible are used as n-level SOUR references in my GEDCOM. A privately published book, produced by a well-known American genealogist in 1908, is another source at this same repository. Entries in this book are used as n-level SOUR references in my GEDCOM.

Don't forget that you can have multiple n-level SOUR references, each pointing to a different zero-level SOUR, but all attached to the same (n-1)-level fact. --Gerry Kroll

See Also

External Links

GEDCOM 5.5.1 (draft) standard pages 27 and 39-40.