Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dear Randy: How Do You Cite an Obituary on GenealogyBank?

Genea-Musings reader John asked this question in a recent email.  Rather than answer him by email, I will answer it on my blog since I need something to write about today.

I have several obituaries in my file that I have captured from the commercial newspaper database provider (I have a complimentary subscription, which I appreciate).  Here is how I crafted a source citation using RootsMagic 6 several years ago.

The obituary for my grandmother, Emily (Auble) Carringer (1899-1977) was published in the San Diego Union newspaper.  I could go to the library and make a photocopy of it, but I found it on GenealogyBank, which is easier to access than the microfilm in a drawer at the library with a balky microfilm reader and printer that may not work.

Here is a screen capture of the obituary on GenealogyBank:

The newspaper information is above the newspaper page image - it is in column 1, on page A-11 of the June 24, 1977 edition of the San Diego Union newspaper.  I could save the page image as a PDF.

To craft the source citation, I used the "Newspaper, Online Images" source template in RootsMagic 6.  Here is the source template showing the fields that I filled in:

The fields and their entries are:

*  Author:  [left blank, no byline]
*  Newspaper:  San Diego [CA] Union
*  Title with place:  [left blank]
*  Publish Place:  San Diego, Calif.
*  Edition type:  online index and digital image
*  Website:  GenealogyBank
*  URL:
*  Collection:  Newspapers Archives, 1690-2010 [the GenealogyBank record collection]

*  Article: Mrs. Emily Carringer
*  Item type:  obituary
*  Issue date:  24 June 1977
*  Specific content:  page A11, column 1
*  Access type: [left blank, use default]
*  Date accessed:  19 March 2012
*  Credit line:  [left blank, not sure what to add here]
*  Annotation: [left blank, not sure what to add here]

The source citation crafted by this source template is:

Footnote: "Mrs. Emily Carringer," obituary, San Diego [CA] Union, 24 June 1977, page A11, column 1; online index and digital image, GenealogyBank ( : accessed 19 March 2012), Newspaper Archives, 1890-2010.

Short Footnote: "Mrs. Emily Carringer," page A11, column 1.

Bibliography: Calif.. San Diego. San Diego [CA] Union. 24 June 1977.

John can use this source citation to create one of his own in his genealogy software of choice by substituting his information into the form fields above and putting them together based on the title, newspaper details, etc.

 GenealogyBank does not provide a source citation for this record, so we have to make our own.

It would be interesting to see how other genealogy software programs would craft this source. Anyone up for that challenge?

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Jacqi Stevens said...

Randy, I'm glad your reader brought up that question--and that you chose to answer it publicly as a blog post so others could benefit.

I've grappled with a corollary question about GenealogyBank--not so much how to construct the proper citation, but how, as a blogger, I can hyperlink to a specific page so others reading my post can follow my research trail. While I can provide hyperlinks to other online resources I write about in my posts, apparently there is no way to do so to specific newspaper articles I've found via GenealogyBank.

Capturing a screen shot and including it in my post (versus private use in one's own family tree database) would technically violate copyright provisions as outlined in their terms of service, so that is not a possibility for a blog post. But there doesn't seem to be any other option for a way to direct others back to find the exact same online resource I want to cite--other than the traditional footnote route, which cross applies to any resource where the newspaper in question could be accessed (not specifically the resource of GenealogyBank).

You'd think GenealogyBank would want users to point other potential customers to specific pages in their offerings as a way to demonstrate how beneficial their services are. I know one of their competitors makes this possible. In GenealogyBank's case, though, I can't even cut and paste the web page address for the specific location where I found the article about my ancestor. Each time I want to revisit it, I have to again go through all the steps to recreate the search process. The bad news is: sometimes even that won't lead me back to that same newspaper article I had previously found on their site.

Creating a way to capture a link to the specific page would be a bonus, in this blogger's estimation.

Robert Gris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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Unknown said...

One of the problems I have with GenealogyBank vs is you can post the clipping straight into Ancestry while with Genealogybank you have to spead a lot of time PDF and then up loading. Is there a better way?

Unknown said...

i was so excited finding GenealogyBank and Digital format of the Bristol Phoenix(free) Newspapers.
i began finding and saving to my folders and printing them, adding information to a persons profile on
Ancestry. In all of this excitement, I forgot to source the obituaries, currently at 64. This began 2 years
ago. So, my question is, do i BEGIN sourcing them with current date or actual date; some having the
date i downloaded them?


Randy Seaver said...

Hi Hugh,

I would source them including the date you saved it to your computer. The purpose of the date is to indicate when you found it - that way, others will know that the record was available on the website on that date. It is not unusual for websites to remove content due to contractual requirements.

If you don't have a download date for them, then you can search for them again on the website and save them to your computer, and source them with the download date.

Good luck -- Randy

Hugh said...

Greetings Randy:
Thanks for your quick response. I found this source fro obituaries from the town my mother and her siblings grew up. The Bristol Phoenix is the local paper. The past issues are digitized by the Bristol Advantage Preservation. I found this obituary(hope it links to Arlene Axtell) :

How would you source this--full URL or just
“Arlene Axtell,” obituaries, Bristol Phoenix [RI], 06 July 2017, page 13, column 3-4; online index and digital image, Bristol Phoenix ( 14 August 2018).