Monday, April 7, 2014

RootsMagic 6 Source Citation for an Public Member Tree

My friend and research colleague (not yet a documented cousin, but I keep hoping!), Russ Worthington, has been struggling to craft a source citation for an Public Member Tree using Family Tree Maker 2014.  You can read about his struggles in his post, FTM2014 and Ancestry Member Trees - What Next.

During this process, Russ did a really smart thing - he engaged Elizabeth Shown Mills on her Evidence Explained forum, and asked her how he should craft the specific source citation.  Elizabeth and Russ had an excellent discussion on the forum - see the thread at

I wondered how the RootsMagic source templates would craft a source citation for an entry in an Public Member Tree.  I went into my database, selected the "Family Trees, documented" source template, and entered data into the "Master Source" and "Source Details" fields.  Here is the "Edit Source" screen:

I filled in the fields that I thought were pertinent for my birth date and birth name, and after peeking at Elizabeth's source citation, and the resulting source citation is:

Footnote: "Public Member Tree", family tree database, ( : accessed 7 April 2014), "Seaver-Leland Family Tree," Randall Jeffrey Seaver (1943-living) birth entry; submitted 2013 by Randall J. Seaver, [contact information for private use], Chula Vista CA 91911; birth certificate image.

Short Footnote: "Public Member Tree," family tree database,, "Seaver-Leland Family Tree," Randall Jeffrey Seaver (1943-living) birth entry.

Bibliography: "Public Member Tree." Family tree database. : 2014. 

Comparing the source citation above with the Evidence Explained Forum model crafted by Elizabeth Shown Mills shows that RootsMagic 6 does a pretty good job.

I will try to do a similar source citation in Legacy Family Tree 8 soon for comparison purposes. I don't need to - Shannon Thomas did one in Citing  Member Trees in Legacy Family Tree (7 April 2014).  Beth Benko did a similar task in Legacy Family Tree 8 Source citation for an Public Member Tree on 8 April 2014.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

Updated last:  10 april 2014.


Cousin Russ said...


Thank you.

Guess I have to work harder at this task then you.

It might be interesting to see what The Editor has to say about how Roots Magic works on this same Citation.

I saw a Legacy posting there a little wile ago.

Thank you,


Shannon Thomas said...

Hi Randy

I did a blog post about citing an Public Member Tree. You can see it at my blog Our Life Picture by Picture the link is

bgwiehle said...

The citation details are straight-forward enough, but unless one actually contacts the tree owner, one is unlikely to get more than the ancestry username as a contact detail. No physical address, no email, and probably not the "real" name. Also, I prefer to record the full URL of the tree page I am referencing, which can be a profile page, a chart page or a media page.

Cousin Russ said...


Have you considered keeping the Full URL in your notes or Citation Notes? I have only the URL in the Citation, but I have the full URL in my notes.

Reason: URLs Change, pages get moved, pages get deleted. That is why many of us enter "accessed" in our Citation. So I know WHEN I access what website, in this case If the URL in my notes don't work, I at least know what website I found it on.

I don't see the full URL in the Evidence Explained book or Quicksheet. But I always have the link in my notes.

Just a thought.


bgwiehle said...

Russ, I used the phrase "record the full URL" rather than "cite the full URL" to account for various methods of retention. My experience has been that, although content details may evolve, tree urls are fairly stable, and it's not worth re-creating the search and comparison process, when a simple link verifies the same page is still available.

Beth Benko said...


I also blogged about the citation for an Public Member Tree using Legacy Family Tree 8. I tried it two different ways and, like Shannon, I like the Generic Source best. My citation a little different than hers and I've made some observations about using the SourceWriter in LFT 8 for this type of citation.


Unknown said...

Hi, thanks for posting this. I will follow the thread to the discussion group, but may I tell you how I tackled the problem?
The problem isnt really creating the source, its following the convention, so I used Rootsmagic Source templates and created my own. I decided that I wanted the title of my sources to be in bold, a repeated source to start off with ... and the bibliography to be just the master source details without any details.
For a public member tree I now create a new source for each database (thats as opposed to ancestry user, so if a user has 3 databases thats 3 sources)

Here is the source results if you were to access my tree looking for my mother

Public Member Trees [ONLINE], Penelope_Blake, "EldredgeFinch",, FINCH, Susan ( accessed 04 May 2014

The short footnote would be

... Public Member Trees [ONLINE], Penelope_Blake, "EldredgeFinch", FINCH, Susan ( accessed 04 May 2014

(Or Ibid if identical)

while the Biblography would be

Public Member Trees [ONLINE], Penelope_Blake, "EldredgeFinch",