Using Source Citations

October 3, 2016

Below you will find some suggestions and examples concerning source citations that will be helpful when submitting lineage application documents.  Also attached is a list of further suggestions, websites, and books that will help you with source citations.

Source citations are a very important part of being a competent genealogist. Researchers need to see where they obtained a record, and others reading their work also need to know where a record is located.

When creating source citations, think of these questions: WHO created the record, WHERE is the record located, WHEN was the record created, WHAT type of record is it.

The Ohio Genealogical Society’s Lineage Society Rules and Application Procedures for submitting applications to any of the OGS lineage groups reads:

“All documents must include a full citation to the original source. This requirement is true for electronic format, internet and traditional source documents. Other researchers should be able to use the citations to find the document themselves. Citations may be written in any accessible location on the front of the photocopy or you may include a photocopy of the title page showing all bibliographic information.” (Section B pg. 3)

Examples of specific types of sources and how to cite them is then given.

The importance of including source citations is so1) lineage judges can see where the information came from.  2) future researchers can easily find the information.

Some specific examples that often come up are below:

Birth, Marriage, and Death records from online sources such as FamilySearch.  The citation should include where the document is from – not only FamilySearch, but the original volume and page number in county records. FamilySearch includes the source citation for each document.  It should also include the date you accessed the online record. Examples:

Birth : Jackson County, West Virginia Register of Births, [vol. ?], p. 17-A, Annie Johnson, 18 November 1874, digital images, West Virginia Vital Research Records Project ( : accessed 4 June 2010).  From a state online vital records database.

Marriage : “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 12 November 2015), Henry Isanogle and Anne Knox, 24 Nov 1826; citing Jefferson, Ohio, United States, reference vol. 3 p 57 cn 354; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 900,072.  This citation includes where the source can be found, on FamilySearch and the volume and page number of the original from the record book at the county courthouse.  

Death : “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 12 November 2015), Conrad Miller, 06 Mar 1908; citing Death, Decatur Township, Washington, Ohio, United States, source ID v 2 p 189, County courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 946,210.

If you are using a copy obtained from the original county probate court, you need to include the name of the county, the name of the court or issuing agency, the name of the record set (“Death Records,” “Marriage Records,” etc.), the volume number, and the page number.  The same is true for wills, estate records, tax records, etc., whether obtained from an online database or directly from records at a courthouse.

Census Records from online sources such as Ancestry and FamilySearch.

Pre-1880 censuses do NOT prove relationship to the head of household. See the “Rules” about this.  Ancestry, like FamilySearch, provides a source citation that can be modified and used.  Some source citation examples are:

“1880 U.S. census, Decatur Township, Washington County, Ohio, population schedule, p. 19 (penned), dwelling 168, family 170, Conrade and Emily Miller; digital image, ( : accessed 9 November 2015); citing National Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 1075.”

Written sources.  

Citation for a Bible record:

“Sidney and Salina Shrader Root Family Bible Records, 1850-1869, The Holy Bible. New York: American Bible Society, 1851.  Title page.  Privately held by Deborah Root Shell. Provenance: Salina Root to Franklin H. Root, Franklin H. Root to Esmond G. Root, Esmond G. Root to Deborah Kay Root Shell.”

Written source, such as a county history book:

Doyle, Joseph B. 20th Century History of Steubenville and Jefferson County, Ohio and Representative Citizens Chicago: Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co., 1910 pg. 981-983.

For further reading and consultation

“Citation Principles: Websites are Like a Book” The Ancestry Insider:

 “Cite Your Sources” (Source Footnotes)” FamilySearch Wiki:

“Citing Sources>>Citations in Genealogy.” Cyndi’s List.

“Citations: the Importance of Citing Your Sources” Debbie Mieszala, CG:

Mills, Elizabeth Shown.  Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown.  Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Second edition.  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown.  Citing Online Historical Resources QuickSheet. First revised edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown.  Citing Databases & Images QuickSheet. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009.

We hope this will help you with all of your genealogical research and in particularly with your OGS lineage applications. 

Deb Root Shell

Chair, Society of Civil War Families of Ohio

Ohio Genealogical Society