"Sources not consulted"?

+6 votes
I found theach following under Sources Styling Guide -- the list of sources at "See also" "can contain website pages, books, and other sources ... whether or not they were specifically consulted as sources."  This makes no sense to me.

Why would I list sources that I did not use or that were not relevant enough to cite in the profile?

Profiles should be as short, simple, concise, and relevant as possible.  Just the facts.  No fluff.  No guesses.  No speculation.  Pure non-fiction. No fiction.  Profiles are not historical novels.
in Policy and Style by Living Boynton G2G4 (4.5k points)
If I use that section its usually to put links to online family trees that might have been created, and references the actual records in the usual reference section.

My interpretation of "consulted as sources" is "cited" - In other words works that are not directly cited in the profile narrative, but were consulted more generally in preparing the profile. For example there might be a town history that may add context to the life of the person and their environment, and such a work may contain clues for further research, but it contained no new information about the person specifically. Similarly an online genealogy may not be the source of any information given on the profile (possibly because the genealogy does not give it's sources) but it is included because it has been found to be mostly accurate and contains clues for further research (a list of claimed children that is still to be 'verified').

I see it as the delta (Δ) between a list of "works cited" (reference list) and a list of "works consulted" (bibliography).

There is also often useful information from finding aids in an Archive but you may not have been able to consult the actual record. eg

There were 4 daughters,coheirs to  Nicholas Martyns estate. Secondary sources vary considerably  as to the husbands of these  women.

Ann married Antony Floyer ,Ann married Henry Tichborne, Jane married Antony Floyer, Jane married Henry Tichbourne, Jane married Tristram Dillington

 There is a catalogue  entry from the Dorset records office for a document concerning  the division of the estate between the daughters, from it's date  obviously made just before their father's death. 

Catalogue reference D-CRI/A/32/3/5

Title Tincleton, manors of Tincleton, Athelhampton etc and other property. Covenant to levy fine. Parties:'1. Nicholas Martyn. 2. Henry Brewen and wife Elizabeth. 3. Thomas White, jun, Fiddleford, and wife Frances. 4. Tristram Dyllyngton, Isle of Wight, and wife Jane. 5. Anne Martyn, youngest daughter of [1]; (snip) . Bearing eleven seals and signatures. Date 17 Jan 1591

A  catalogue entry for a later document  in the Devon Archives adds further information mentioning, Ann  widow of Antony Floyer and her younger son's William and John, her parents Nicholas Martyn and Margaret and her brother Nicholas Wadham  The document was written  in the 1st year of  Charles 1.  So lots more useful supporting genealogical information.

I have seen the first document  It didn't really tell me anything more  about names and relationships  than the catalogue entry had already included ( and very hard to read and manipulate since it is a very large, fragile document. Specialist archivists are better at reading these documents than than me)

 I won't be travelling to Devon to see the second one so it should really be a source not consulted. (though you could argue the catalogue entry itself is a source.)


I would assume that "See also" would be for this kind of example..  
You have an obituary, death certificate, and Social Security record that states : Jill Smith death April 2, 1972. I would put the death certificate as the main source, but under See also as supporting documentation for her death. To me there are a number of reasons to use the term See also. My mother for instance has been married 3 times. I would put her last marriage, then See also for the other two so that it can be shown how the life went. Jmho.
I tend to use See Also for profiles of Notables for whom there are multiple secondary sources. Some biographical essays may provide insight about someone who led an interesting life, but the essays may not provide new, verifiable data useful from a genealogical perspective.

8 Answers

+13 votes
Best answer


I assume you're referring to http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Sources_Style_Guide

I really dislike this page. And it seems to be increasingly moving away from the original style guide. And every time I look at it, the language has changed. It's horribly confusing and misleading. I wish we'd just toss it completely.

If you go to Jillaine's Dream Source Help Page, you'll see reflected there the initial intent behind the source section of the style guides that were developed (by a committee and community process co-led by me) a few years back. 

The bit specifically related to your question says this:

"(What follows "See also:" should be a list of related materials not specifically cited in the narrative.)"

All that said, my dream source help page is unofficial and if other style efforts have been subsequently underway (although I haven't seen reference to any(*)), then we have to abide by what is on the official pages. 


(*) edited: there was something recently about which citation format we should use. According to the sources style guide page, it's Evidence Explained. 

by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (929k points)
selected by Michael Maranda
That page is confusing, its the first time I've really looked at it, the way I'm reading it it sounds like they want the the reference section to be a list of footnotes/end notes and then the see also as the bibliography/works citied, as in academic works.

It sounds like it needs clarifying
+16 votes
In my case, I have a grand uncle who was buried with a Woodmen of The World grave marker.  I have attached a website that explains the history of WOW to his profile because I thought it was interesting; and, so far, he is the only one to be involved with that organization in my family.

If I need that information for further research, I know where it is.  I don't have to hunt through bookmarks or computer files to find it.  Then the added bonus is that someone may read his profile and learn something new that is related but not a big part of his story.
by Kathleen Heath G2G6 Mach 2 (22.3k points)
+21 votes
People can't do everything all at once.  If you know of a source which could be helpful or might be helpful for certain people it may well be better use of your time to just give a link and let others do the work or get a more nuanced feeling for someone.  I have a lot more material to add to my current watch list than already added.  For me it gets boring to keep adding more and more to a few profiles than adding more profiles and then going back an adding more when I get tired of adding more people.
by Living Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (448k points)
I like this answer.  People can't do everything at once.  It could be you find a whole family on a census but only have ten or fifteen minutes to work on Wikitree.  In that case, you might enter the whole information on the head of the household for one profile but the others on the census could have the census listed on their profiles and when time permits this census could be added to the narrative of each individual profile.  In the meantime, this would be listed under See Also on those profiles.
+6 votes

Future learn session week 5 in the training Genealogy Researching your Family Tree from University of Strathclyde

Genealogy to family history: the value of adding context

Question Michael Boynton: don't you agree that more context gives more understanding? 

I normally have "sources" like Find a Grave and Ancestry family trees in the See also section as those sources are not good enough evidence for an fact... ( a picture of a gravestone could be...) Facts should be confirmed with primary sources.

by Living Sälgö G2G6 Pilot (304k points)
edited by Living Sälgö

I also use categories as a way of see also to add context to a profile so the reader get more context and can understand more... 

  • Example of categories that are some kind of see also 
    • Fattighjon a word often found in the swedish church books. But what does it mean?
    • Resources about the Swedish parish Kila (U) Where is it? What other resources do we find from this area....
    • Resources about "Morgongåva" a word often found in the church books when two people get married 

Really good session how difficult it is to find context sources as everything was not reported by everyone

A deeper look at contextual sources
How to find secondary sources
What is in a name?: "Voices from the past"

+6 votes
Michael Where does it say in the style profiles should as you state. I'd like to read it. Thanks
by Anonymous Roach G2G6 Pilot (201k points)
+7 votes
When I fail to find a connection between a source and the subject I add it to the see also section. ie a birth record for a child that is dated after one of the parents had died. I also add link to other resources for further research, and on profiles where I use several different pages of a long titled source I'll post the full blown citation for the source in the see also section and use an abbreviated citation with page numbers in the biography.

I do post as many supported facts as I am capable of, but I also forward hypothesis and make guesses that are not disguised as facts.
by James Applegate G2G6 Mach 5 (58.1k points)
+4 votes

Michael, Nice concise description of what a profile should be. I would add that "See Also" be used only for sources relevant to the profile given name. [I have seen misuse of "see also" by listing all available sources for the surname, even when sources do not mention the profile given name; sometimes it is about a totally different family of the same surname in another area of the country. This padding the "bibliography" is misleading.]


by Marj Adams G2G6 Mach 4 (45.1k points)

Misuse?? I would say adding context to a profile is what makes genealogy interesting. 

See video Genealogy to family history: the value of adding context from a training in Genealogy that University of StrathClyde have.


It is not adding context when the source given is not applicable

Ok then I have to rephrase the statement/question.

If someone add See also that is not related to the person or not add context then I can question if that person should add anything at all to Wikitree....

Question: Do we agree that good genealogy also adds context?

Reason asking the question is that I feel Chris the "father" of Wikitree like to have Wikitree so easy to use that everyone can add everything. Which could be one way forward....

What I see when people ask questions like what to add to a section See also is that we get more and more people adding profiles with less interesting profiles to read. It's a lot of links to Find A grave with no sources and/or just a link to Family Search record that makes the profile rather boring to read.  

The great benefit with a common tree is in my opinion not to get more profiles with links to find a grave it is to get profiles with more context because more people with different skills can work together.... compare how Wikipedia has developed and are today sometimes as good as Encyclopædia Britannica ....

+3 votes
This is where the sources go that the Sourcerers add in the challenge every month.
by Maureen Rosenfeld G2G6 Pilot (207k points)
Where? please explain
I just meant that Sourcerers add sources without doing biographies  The sources are not, at that point, used as footnotes.  Another person can come along and write a bio using the provided sources.  

These sources go under the See Also source section.

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