Sunday, March 30, 2014

FTM2014 and Mastering Genealogical Proof - Chapter 4 Source Citations

I have been in a study group on the book, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Jones, 2013) by Dr. Thomas W Jones in the Google+ Dear MYRTLE Genealogy Community.

In Chapter 4, we discussed “Source Citations” (Jones, 2013), 33. One of my readers was having some difficulty taking that chapter along with Evidence Explained (Mills, 2007) and how they work with the Family Tree Maker template feature.

I am going to try to explain this as I understand it. I had to break the Chapter title apart, to be Source and Citation. The Source being the Container of information and the Citation the information within the Container.

In Family Tree Maker, that is the Template Feature, where the proper Template defines the Container (our source). The Information within that container is entered into the appropriate Facts in the program for that person or persons.

What we learned in this Chapter is that a “Source Citation” is made up of 5 parts.
  • 1.      Who
  • 2.      What
  • 3.      When
  • 4.      Where
  • 5.      Where In

The Template feature, no matter the Source or Contain, is a fill in the blanks for 1 through 4. I have blogged about this many times.

Depending on the Container, there will be various fields to complete, but the Template form asks the right questions.

It’s the Where In question that has been the difficult piece for me and others. As with each of the Citations, based on the Source, what is put into one or two fields is what is important.

We have two fields that the Source Template screen does not include. Citation Detail and Citation Text.

As I have blogged in the past about this, the information that I enter in the Citation Text field, for the most part, is information for me and that I do NOT put a Check Mark to the right of that field meaning it doesn’t get published in an EndNote or Reference Note.

It’s the Citation Detail field that takes the work.

The question is “Where In” did this information come from.

I have a book that has lots of information in it about my family. I want to capture that information and I do that one or two ways. The most obvious way is to record the information into Fact fields. The date, place, and perhaps a description. Later I want to be able to answer the question ‘Where did I get THAT information from?” That usually, for me, comes after I review all of the facts and try to do some analysis on what I have (Chapter 5 and later) (Jones, 2013).

So, in my book example, the Where In question is simply answered with a Page Number, or in the case of a newspaper article, page and column number. I have given more information about the Citation Detail field for Census Records.

Basically, in the past, I have been working too hard on my citations. Understanding the 5 questions above, has helped me make my citations simpler and more effective for me.

Do you need both of the books I have mentioned? No, but they certainly do help.

There is a very helpful website, Evidence Explained and a related Facebook page, that helps me understand what I am trying to do. There is a Forum on the Website for questions and for “peer review”. What a better way to see if your Citations are meaningful for someone else than to post it on the Forum page.

I am certainly not an expert in fact I consider myself a beginner, but I think I better understand a very difficult topic.

A special Thank you do Elizabeth Shown Mills and Dr. Thomas W. Jones  for making these two resources available to us. Also, for the Family Tree Maker program to help take the guess work out of the first 4 questions.


Jones, D. T. (2013). Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society. Retrieved from
Mills, E. S. (2007). Evidence Explained, Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Ba;timore: Genea;pgical Publishing Company.

Copyright © 2014 by H R Worthington

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