Friday, October 11, 2013

Source Citations for "Ohio County Marriages, 1789-1994" Record Collection on

I found quite a few Seaver marriage records yesterday on in the "Ohio County Marriages, 1789-1994" record collection.

Here is the record for the marriage of Joseph N. Seaver and Frances Dunican in Hamilton County, Ohio on 26 June 1907.

I wanted to craft a useful source citation for events obtained from these marriage records, so I looked at several different source citation models, including:

1) provides a source citation for each record reviewed in the record summary page. The source citation provided is:

"Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994," index and images,  FamilySearch   ( : accessed 11 Oct 2013), Joseph N. Seaver and Frances Dunican, 26 Jun 1907; citing Hamilton, Ohio, United States, reference 30; FHL microfilm 355085.

2)  If I craft a source citation using the RootsMagic 6 source template for "Vital Records, State Level, Online Derivatives," I obtain:

Ohio, "Ohio County Marriages, 1789-1994," FamilySearch ( : indexed database and digital image, accessed 11 October 2013), Hamilton County Marriage Records, Volume 199, Page 80, No. 30, Joseph N. Seaver and Frances Dunican, 26 June 1907, digitized from FHL Microfilm US/CAN 355,085.

3)  If I craft a source citation using the Legacy Family Tree Version 7.5 source template for "Marriage records, in governmental records, created at state/provincial level, online images," I obtain:

Ohio, "Ohio County Marriages, 1789-1994," Marriage license applications and returns, No. 30 (Hamilton County, 1907), Joseph N. Seaver-Frances Dunican; digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 October 2013). 

The source templates in Legacy Family Tree are pretty limiting, and I struggled to put the information in the right fields.

4)   If I craft a source citation using the Family Tree Maker 2014 source template for "Local and State Records - Registrations, Rolls and Vital Records, State Level Records, Vital Records Certificate," I obtain:

Ohio, "Ohio County Marriages, 1789-1994," indexed database and digital image, FamilySearch (, Hamilton County Marriage Records, Volume 199, Page 80, No. 30, Joseph N. Seaver and Frances Dunican, 26 June 1907, accessed 11 October 2013, digitized from FHL Microfilm US/CAN 355,085.

I could also use the source template for "Online Image, Courts and Governance, Image Copy" in Family Tree Maker 2014 to create:

Ohio, "Ohio County Marriages, 1789-1994," indexed database and digital image, Hamilton County Marriage Records, Volume 199, Page 80, No. 30, Joseph N. Seaver and Frances Dunican, 26 June 1907, digitized from FHL Microfilm US/CAN 355,085; FamilySearch (

I really struggle making Family Tree Maker source citations using templates - there always seem to be two or more options for a specific record type.

5)  I looked in Evidence Explained and found several models for local and state vital records in an online database with images, but I really struggled trying to understand the details of the fields.  The second Family Tree Maker 2014 citation is similar to two models (but I may have put too much information into the Citation detail field.

In the Vital Records section of the QuickSheet: Citing Online Historical Resources, there is a citation model for a "State-Compiled Database at Commercial Site."  The above citation might be:

Ohio, "Ohio County Marriages, 1789-1994," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 October 2013), Hamilton county, entry for Joseph N. Seaver and Frances Dunican (1907).

A similar source citation can be found in the "Basic Format: Images" section of the QuickSheet: Citing Databases & Images.

6)  Are you as thoroughly confused as I am?  None of those are "perfect."  None are easy or easy to recall from memory.  It seems to me that the RootsMagic 6 and Family Tree Maker 2014 source template citations provides a clear path for a reader to find the specific record easily in either FamilySearch or on the FHL microfilm.

I still prefer making a free-form source citation, based on Evidence Explained and the QuickSheets, in genealogy software just because the citations created by source templates are badly mangled when they are put though the GEDCOM export/import process.  What looks great in one program looks terrible in another program.

Which source citation model do you prefer? Does this really matter?  I'm not trying to be a source citation Nazi here (I haven't seen one yet!), but I am frustrated by the different formats produced by the available software programs, all claiming to be based on Evidence Explained models.

Why not just use the source citation provided by FamilySearch and be happy with it, since with one click you can easily find the database description, the record summary and digital image.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Geolover said...

Your examinations of source citations are much appreciated and often illuminating.

For this particular source, it is ironic that the FamilySearch citation is least complete in the sense of not giving a book:page (what does "ref. 30" mean?) or an explicit source ("County" omitted after "Hamilton"). This is significant because many of these miscellaneous collections include extracts from such things as poorly identified indexes (some prepared through the WPA ca. 1838-1941, some by Genealogical and Historical Societies, some even through local libraries).

My preference would be to give the full permalink URL for the image rather than just the site's general URL.

It is excellent that you went to the trouble to identify the volume of the original record by looking up the microfilm number in the Library Catalog.

Robbhaas said...

I agree with your assessment of the sources. They are confusing. With the FamilySearch records I tend to use their source and then add any other data, such as County, State, volume, page number, etc that they might have not included.

I have tried the various source templates for RootsMagic and find them to be confusing at best. I gave up and always use Free-Form and try my best to include everything anyone would need to locate the record that I am citing.

One drawback with Legacy Family Tree is that they truncate the citation field and the remainder of the citation ends up in the detail field. I only discovered this when I moved from LFT back to RootsMagic and have been cleaning up the resulting mess ever since.

Thanks for bringing this subject to the attention of the genealogy community.

Barb said...

Here is my take on sources. Source citations serve a dual purpose: give credit to the creator of the source and insure that the source may be found by anyone reviewing/using your data, even, say, 50 years later. Cut and dry. I read how everyone tries to squeeze their info into formats in their database programs to get the citation to spit it back in a specific format (Evidence Explained). It takes the fun out of my research. I just make sure to add as much info as possible; even add to some such as the Familysearch citation by retrieving film#, page#, notes, etc. But when I look at the final product I say to myself "Could you find this info again just by reading the citation"? I always try to add the actual URL to the document, if online, but we have to remember, links get broken and sometimes online data just does not give it all to you. Those require getting to the actual repository. Choosing which template to use is usually the part I have to puzzle out. Great post!

Cousin Russ said...


My question about any of the Citations is, with what you have in the Citation, can you get back to Where YOU found that record.

I am not at home, so I may not be able to provide a FTM2014 view of how I would handle this Citation.

I am guessing that mine will look close to your first FTM2014 Citation.

Working through Mastering Genealogical Proof is my first part of the comment, can I or you get back to see the SAME image I found. That goes for any Citation.

Just a thought,


Shelley Bishop said...

I use this collection a lot in my research, Randy. You have my head spinning with all these alternate citations!

The main problem I see with putting the word "Ohio" before the name of the collection is that the state of Ohio is not the creator nor the custodian of these records. They have always been created and maintained at the county level.

I tend to enter my citations (into Reunion) free-form, rather than filling in a template, which allows me to customize them. Here is the citation I would use:

“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 13 October 2013), Joseph N. Seaver and Frances Dunican (1907); citing Hamilton County marriage records vol. 199, p. 80, no. 30, Cincinnati; FHL microfilm no. 355085.

As you can see, I chose to put the link to the collection rather than the longer URL to the record itself or the shortened one that FamilySearch provides. My feeling is that once you get to the collection, you can enter the names in the search field and, given the information in the citation, find the record easily. I hesitate to trust the long-term validity of shortened URLs.

I also added Cincinnati, the county seat, as the locality where the record can be found. This is an optional step, but I think it's helpful to someone who might go looking for the original record, and it serves as a reminder to me. It's easy to find the name of any county seat quickly using Wikipedia.

Just my two cents' worth! It's interesting to read everyone's thoughts.