Robin Richmond's Genealogy Database
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Sources, Citations, & Media

  1. Sources are books, records, censuses, collections of official documents (e.g. Texas Birth Records), people, events (e.g. a family reunion) and other "things" that supply information that a genealogist uses to substantiate genealogical information. Some sources are, of course, available online for free, others require paid memberships to a web site such as And others aren't online at all.

    Sources are sometimes arbitrarily and inconsistently defined, e.g.

    • A book is pretty clearly a single source - except sometimes when a "book" consists of multiple volumes, and especially when those multiple volumes are published at different times.
    • A description, say, of a cemetery and the people buried there might be published independently, but also be published as an article in a journal that has weekly, monthly, or annual issues.
    • Each 10-year U.S. Census is generally considered to be one big source, but states, counties, and cities have also published censuses.
    •, which supplied most of my data and automatically defined sources for me, takes the website, and abitrarily divides it up as a separate source for each state (even though the web site has no such breakdown, except in its search page).
  2. Citations are the uses of a Source within a record - mostly a person's record, but also a family record. A citation refers to a source, and then it is supposed to say exactly where the information used in the person's record is within the source, and it is supposed to have a transcription of that information. But very often, it simply refers to the Source without any more specifics.

    Note that the term "citation" isn't really used on this web site, though citations are there. That is, when you look at the "Sources" in a person's record (they are at the bottom of the person profile), you're really seeing "Citations", each of which does refer to a Source.

    In the list of so-called "Sources" for a person, the citations are numbered starting from 1, and each citation includes

    1. The Source number, as a hyperlink, which links to the Source detail page.
    2. The Source title
    3. Values describing the Source, such as author, publisher, and date of publication.
      On the Source Detail page, these values are clearly shown as separate fields, but in the list of Citations, they are run together in one string enclosed in parenthesis, and displayed on the same line as the Source Title.
    4. Values describing where the citation occurs within the source. These can vary greatly among sources. Some sources, (such as a U.S. Census) are very complex, and the citation can be long and hard to understand. Because of the variety of Source types and source citations, citations are not broken down into fields that can be displayed in a labeled table. for easy reading, as Source and Person fields arecan be so Different sources can have different v or, for censuses, the state and so-called "Enumeration District". Unfortunately, to add to the confusion, the citation data is displayed immediately after the source data in such a way that it's hard to distinguish between them.
    5. A transcription of the actual text in the source that describes the person or family, and that thus support the "fact" stored in the database.

    Note that items d and/or e are often missing, so that the citation reference is really, in effect, a direct source reference.

    Note that a (real) source can be used by more than one person-source (i.e. citation) in a record. For instance, if a person's birth is described on page 82 of a book, and the same person's death is described on page 102, the citation that supports the birth fact will will refer to page 82 of the book, and the citation that supports the death fact will refer to page 102 of the book.

  3. Media - as used by the TNG package, which is the engine behind this web site - are online images and documents that are associated with a person or a source. In TNG, there are several specific media categories. At this point, I use four:
    1. Photos - Photographs of people and places, and associated with a person. Actually, a photograph can be associated with multiple people; I don't have to have 10 copies of a family photo of 10 people in order to associate that photo with all 10 people.
    2. Documents - Scanned or photographed copies of wills, census logs, death certificates, marriage records, etc. Documents images are associated with citations, but that relationship isn't really clear on the web site.
    3. Histories - HTML pages, Word documents, and/or scanned documents (including book pages) that don't just describe an event (like Documents), but that describe a person or family. Mini-biographies scanned from books or written specifically to be attached to a persons database record are classified as Histories.
    4. Headstones - Photographs of headstones are classified separately, and, with TNG, can be associated both with a person and a cemetery.

How Documents are related to Sources and people

When you look at a person's record, and select "media" detail, you'll see media items broken out by the four categories listed above. Photographs, Histories, and Headstones are pretty cleanly associated with that person. But document images are associated with citations within the person's record, and indirectly associated with sources.

Within the "Documents" section of the Media list:

  • The document image is an image of the portion of the source associated with a citation, even though the document images don't refer to citations at all.
  • The filename of the document image generally is derived from name of the source associated with the citation. But that filename relationship is not consistent.
When you select a document image either by clicking on the image thumnail or the image filename, you'll be taken to a media detail page that shows (among other things)
  • The image within an onscreen tool that lets you zoom in on portions of the image or pop it out into a separate window,
  • The people and source that the document image links to.

From there, you can see information about the source, or the other people, but you cannot ever see the citation associated with an image. nor is it defined in the database.

By the way, U.S. Censuses are good examples of document images that are typically associated with more than one person. For instance, from my grandfather Brady Horton's record, if you display the Media, and click on the document titled "1900 United States Federal Census", you'll see a list of everyone who was listed on that census page.

Within the Sources List in a person's record:

  • You see all of the citations, and the sources that they link to./li>
  • You can click on the hyperlinked Source ID to see details of the Source.
  • But you can't tell which citations/sources have document images; you can only tell that from the Media section of the person's record.

If you have any questions or comments about the information on this site, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.
-Robin Richmond