Genealogy Wise

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Hey, all:

I'm confused about sourcing in Legacy. Right now, I have one Master Source called Birth Certificates: U.S., and then I use Details for the individual certificates. Is that the best way to do it, or should each certificate be its own Master Source? Same with census records. Just don't know the best practice.


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I am fairly new, too, so someone more experienced may have a better answer than I, but here's what I do...

I do not make a new Master Source for each birth certificate. I make a new Detail for each birth certificate. I make a new Master Source only when the originating source (the courthouse) changes. Change courthouses, and I make a new Master Source.

For census records, I make a new Master Source for each county/state for that census year. Families within the same county/state and year all use the same Master Source with different Detail information. Change the location or change the year, and I make a new Master Source. Change families within the same county/state and census year, and I use the same Master Source with new Detail.

I use a new Master Source for each book, newspaper, database, cemetery, etc... and change the Detail information as appropriate for each family, person, headstone, etc... Each headstone would be a new Detail, but all headstones in one cemetery would use the same cemetery as the Master Source. All obituaries from one newspaper would use the newspaper as the Master Source, but each obituary would be a different Detail.

Hope this helps.

Good explanation. I thought that was the correct procedure but thought I should be adding more info. Very helpful
This has been the subject of many a thread at the Legacy Users Group. Search the archives for 'sourcing'

Be sure the also check out the pre Nov 2009 Threads here:

I prefer the method you are using.
I have the same question as Alec. Hope you can help us.
So Lana, you would have a number of birth certificates as "Master Sources," correct? I've been working with one Master Source as a U.S. Birth Certificate and then each individual certificate in the details. Sounds like I may have to rethink that.

THanks for the archive thread, Bob. It's helpful. And I'm lost on the replies -- are you endorsing Lana's method? Or do you use fewer Master Sources?

Thanks to all!
I would have a number of courthouses as Master Sources.

It's not the birth certificates that would be the Master Sources, it's the courthouse that the birth certificates came from that would be the Master Source. Each birth certificate would be a new Detail. The fact that it is a birth certificate is a *type* of Master Source, but not *the* Master Source.

I might have a number of courthouses as Master Sources for different birth certificates -- one new Master Source for each courthouse the birth certificates came from. If I had three birth certificates that all came from the same courthouse, I would use one Master Source with three different Details. But if I had three birth certificates that came from three different courthouses, I would make three different Master Sources -- one for each courthouse.

To add a bit more... if I also obtained marriage or death records from that same courthouse, I would add a new Master Source for the courthouse as a marriage or death resource and add a new Detail for each marriage or death record obtained.

Depending on how you prefer to organize, the Master Source List might look like this (each entry is a separate Master Source):

Book - Illinois, Franklin - Book of Franklin County Births from 1750-1799
Courthouse - Illinois, Franklin - births
Courthouse - Illinois, Franklin - deaths
Courthouse - Illinois, Franklin - marriages
Courthouse - Illinois, Williamson - births
Courthouse - Kentucky, Calloway - births
Courthouse - Kentucky, Calloway - deaths
Courthouse - Kentucky, Calloway - marriages

or you might have it look like this:

Illinois, Franklin - book - Book of Franklin County Births, 1750-1799
Illinois, Franklin - courthouse - births
Illinois, Franklin - courthouse - deaths
Illinois, Franklin - courthouse - marriages
Illinois, Williamson - courthouse - births
Kentucky, Calloway - courthouse - births
Kentucky, Calloway - courthouse - deaths
Kentucky, Calloway - courthouse - marriages

Each of these would be a separate Master Source with a new Detail for each item found there. Three birth certificates from the courthouse in Franklin County, Illinois, would be one Master Source (the Franklin County courthouse) with three Details (one for each certificate). Three birth certificates from three different courthouses would be three different Master Sources (one Master Source for each courthouse) with a Detail for each different certificate.

Great help, Lana. Thanks!
Hi Alec:
There are so many ways to answer this question and none of them are really wrong. Everyone has their own way of sourcing within limits. Many people source every little item seperately and others (the lumpers) use general sources and add the differences under one master source. You have been given some excelent answers. Do not hesitate to use the archives, as many questions have been answered there. My only suggestion is that the Courthouse is not a source but rather a repository of many sources. Just my thoughts, Charlie
I, too have struggled in the past (and sometimes still wonder how to source some things), but I agree with Charles. The courthouse is the repository. I am not generally a "lumper". The only real lumping I do is the Census years and then I put states, counties, etc. in the details. I list things this way: Vermont, Hardwick Town Records. I like to list the state first then I can see what records I have from one state. This is the same "idea" as using the Courthouse, but it is a set of records that may be in the courthouse or it may be on or maybe you saw it on microfilm at a FHC (all repositories). These town records may also contain birth, marriage, divorce, AND death records. Hope that helps.
I agree. The courthouse is technically the repository and not the source. I shouldn't have called the courthouse the source, but I was thinking in terms of the way I organize my Source list and mis-stated. Thank you for correcting that. (Hey, I said I was new!)

So actually, (using the example of the census) I wouldn't need to make a new Master Source for each county/state combination as that information goes in the Detail area, but I would make a new Source for each year change -- more like Joyce does. Looking in the Source Writer, I see that birth certificates are a bit trickier than census records though. Hmmm... I think I need to watch Geoff's DVD on this again. And about the time I think I got something figured out! ;-)

I guess I'm a lumper, but that's just the way my brain works. I am relying on my locations (say for birth) to indicate where a particular birth certificate would be found. Same for marriage, and death. For example, the MO death certificates are online, so once I put in the location of death from their death certificate, I indicate the certificate number under details, but the master source is still just "death certificate". I have the censuses broken down by year, so 1880 census, 1900 census, etc., but even then don't indicate which census it was under details because I have already indicated the census location under events. When it comes to information I receive from individuals, then they get their own master source (by name). When it comes to finding data on message boards which I have yet to locate for myself, then I have a Message Boards master source, and then fill in the details accordingly. So basically I'm a lumper, but some things I do break down. Since the idea behind sourcing is so that you (or anyone else) can find your source again if need be, do whatever you need to do to be able to locate it again if the need arises.
Sources have been one of my biggest challenge in Family History. I always tell people that a source is the "Road Map" back to find the original record should you ever need to see it again or if you need to give someone easy to follow directions to find that same record. Everyone needs to find the system that works best for them. For birth certificates I would start with State, County and City as the source and the detail is the certificate number and any other information that pertains to that record. I do Swedish research and have developed a system that works well for that type of records. I would be happy to share if anyone would like. See the attached file for a sample.
Good Luck in your searching



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