Help Understanding Family Search Citation


Can some skilled with citations help me understand a Family Search citation?

I want to create a Source and attach it to a Family Search repository, but the citation below cites two sources. This is for a death certificate from 1937.

“Virginia, Death Certificates, 1912-1987,”
“Virginia, Marriage Records, 1700-1850,”

What does this mean when two sources are cited within one citation? And, which one, or maybe both, would I use as a Source title?

“Virginia, Death Certificates, 1912-1987,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 16 August 2019), Celia Fraley in entry for Malissie Austin, 18 Dec 1937; from “Virginia, Marriage Records, 1700-1850,” database and images, Ancestry ( : 2012); citing Galax, Grayson, Virginia, United States, entry #, Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.

People can do pretty much anything they want to do in FamilySearch. Imported data from GEDCOM or Ancestry files bypass the validation cycle in the FS input forms too.

If you’re asking help to disambiguate a FamilySearch entry, please identify the actuate person profile or source entry.

There’s obvious something wrong if the death was 87 years after the marriage book was closed.

Hmm, I am not understanding what you are stating because I don’t understand the citation but you seem to.

My goal was to figure out which one, if either, I can use to create a new Source to use for citations such as a death certificate pulled from one of those two databases.

Obviously, you understand something that I do not since you noted that “the death was 87 years after the marriage book was closed”.

Could you explain?

Looking at the suggested citation entry it makes clear that the FamilySearch information originated in Ancestry. Other than this suggested citation, at least in this case, FS has labeled it as a death source and the attached image is a death record.

Can you locate the same image on Ancestry?

I have found some Massachusetts birth records switched over to a death source on FS. This made it almost impossible to have these records show up in a birth search. Now at least FS has switched all the birth, death and marriage (Massachusetts) records combined into a single database.

While FS has made many questionable changes to their search algorithms and switching and combining sources (not to mention having to constantly login several times a day) I do not think FS is to blame in this case.

I would use the FS Death source, download a copy of the image and add it to the citation’s gallery tab. Adding the source, or the image, link to the citation’s Note tab with the Type “Html code”. I ignore the other verbiage in the suggested citation.

Indicates that the collection is of marriage certificates during that date range. So the last marriage will have been filed in 1850. 87 years beore that 18 Dec 1937 death date.

So is she wasn’t about 105 when she died, then there’s something hinky about those 2 references being for the same person. It’s possible they were for the parents… possible, but unlikely.

But to untangle it, you have to find where the combination of these references originates. Then work. It back to the originals and make your own conclusions.

You can look through the Sources and ‘Memories’ of FamilySearch profiles for Celia Fraley (profile LDJV-K83) and her daughter. Vastine Melissa or Malissie Fraley - Tolbert (profile LH11-NCX).

I don’t have access to Ancestry. So your guess is as good as mine for that 1700-1850 marriages registry.

Ok. We might be straying from the question that is pertinent to Gramps… regardless of whether the FamilySearch citation might be mangled, how do you load that much preformatted-Citation data into the Citation/Source/Repository structure of Gramps?

This probably goes back to the really long discussion at:

5.2 has Citation plugins? Will we be able to flow in a pre-formatted footer or endnote?

Hi Dave,

I thought the citation was a blend of databases but couldn’t be sure from the wording. And I do have a copy of the death cert but can get it from Family Search again, if needed. I am cleaning up my sources and citations which were created incorrectly some time ago so need FS citations now to fix them.

Thank you for the workflow advice; it’s been a while since I used GRAMPS.

I see the confusion on my part of your explanation of the citation.

I was looking for a death certificate of an ancestor but more for her mother’s name, Ceily, so the date range would be wider.

Thank you for clarifying.

Thanks for the link to the sources and citations discussion. I was wondering how to do that since there are no input boxes for specifics like state, city, precinct, family, dwelling, other odd notices, etc otherwise.

So I am trying to plan the best way to enter this data so I can sort, search, view from the sources and citations list and spot the wording by eye, or some report?

I am sure this topic has been discussed many times.

I came to my approach by trying different ways and seeing how they looked in the Gramps interface and in the generated endnotes on its reports. I found the citations that appear in Ancestry and FamilySearch to be unhelpful. I wanted something that would enable me (and others) to go back and find the original record.

I think of the original (paper) death certificate as the source. The microfilm image is a facsimile of the paper, and the image we see online is a digitization of the microfilm.

When you open the image of the death certificate in FamilySearch, there is an Information tab at the lower left. There you find a link to the FamilySearch catalog record: FamilySearch Catalog: Virginia, death certificates, 1912-1987 —

The catalog entry is where I go to get details for creating a source and a citation in Gramps.

In this case, it says:

Repository =
Author = Virginia. Department of Health. Bureau of Vital Statistics
Publication Information = Salt Lake City, Utah : Digitized by FamilySearch International, 2014

When there is a microfilm roll number listed in the catalog record, I use FamilySearch as the Repository and put the roll number as a Call Number in the Source’s Repository Reference. I also include a Repository Reference Note with the link to the FS catalog record. In this case, they list Ancestry as the repository, even though the publication information says that FamilySearch did the digitization (and the Location in the catalog record says Granite Mountain Record Vault). So I would still use FamilySearch as the repository.

For the Title of this Source, I would use the name of the microfilm roll (“Death Certificates, 1937”). There are 8 rolls with that name, but this particular one came from Digital Folder Number 100787079 (according to the Document Information section of the FS page that you linked). So I would use that as the call number in the repository reference. The image number (294) I would put in the Volume/Page number of the citation. And for the date of the citation, I would use the date that the death certificate (not the date of death), which is January 2, 1938 in this case. (Similarly, if I were citing an obituary in a newspaper, I would use the date of its publication.)

But what about the Ancestry and FamilySearch “databases” and “collections”? They too are sources, but they are derivative sources, containing indexes that were compiled independently of the original source. So I don’t use them as sources, unless I can’t find a facsimile of the original source.

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Hi George,

I like how you have broken down your citation information and will play with your method and have a few questions.

Are your citations, sources, and repositories showing up in your reports and in a useful way? And which report type? I am still playing with reports.

Are they helpful visually when you sort and search the citation and sources lists?

And is your method helping you to find trends/patterns in say, locations of ancestors? For examples, can you use your citations to find all ancestors in one location? Or in one source?

Repositories don’t show up on most reports. The sources and citations are useful for me because I’ve included the details that I want to see. I have probably gone overboard, but here are a couple of examples.

  1. For a microfilm that contains several church books, I use the title of the microfilm in the source, but the title of the particular book within the microfilm in the citation. Here is how it all appears in the endnotes of a report:

(source:) Catholic Church. Holy Angels (Buffalo, New York), “Baptisms, marriages, deaths, confirmations 1852-1894”, Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1982
(citation:) Records of marriages 1887-1894, page 13, number 12 - 1888-06-20

I stored the URL in a Note attached to the citation, and the report picked it up. (For purposes of posting it here in Discourse, I put a backslash in front of it to disable it, just so that you can see the actual URL rather than the page.)

  1. For census records, I think of each enumeration district’s book as being a separate source (maybe this could be done at the citation level instead):

United States. Census Office. 10th census, 1880, “New York, Erie County, E.D. 127 (Buffalo) [NARA Series T9, Roll 829]”, Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Service, [19–]

Page 29, lines 39-43, dwelling 186, household 314 - 1880-06-08

The examples above are from the Detailed Descendant report. I don’t use reports often, but when I do, I want them to be useful to whomever I send them.

Yes. Keep in mind you can reorder the columns in the views. It would be nice if you could also sort by more than one column at a time (I think there’s an outstanding feature request for that).

In Gramps 5.2, there’s a change to the Citations gramplet that makes it more useful (regardless of how you format things). It will now show the date, page number, and confidence level.

There’s also a new Citation Formatter addon, which I’m looking forward to experimenting with.

I think a better way to do that is to use custom filters in the various views (People, Events, Places).

Hi George,

You don’t know how constructive your responses are to me. Thank you. I have played with GRAMPS for days, getting reacquainted and trying to work smarter after a few years away from genealogy.

This time, I am doing more pre-planning and thinking before I add information.

Thank you again.


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