Source ordering guidlines

+7 votes
Are there WikiTree guide lines for the order sources appear in a profile?

I have my own set that I try and follow but I'd change for something better, if it exists.  What I do:

First comes the source with the most information and what I used to enter data into the profile.

Second, third, fourth, ... in the order of information quality/quantity.

If there are specific date oriented sources, marriage, birth, death ... then I put those in chronological order.  So, Find A Grave, if I have it, is usually last.

Any better ideas?
in The Tree House by Bob Jewett G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

4 Answers

+9 votes
Bob, I use inline cites, so my sources are arranged by which one appears first; i.e., birth, baptism, census, marriage, etc.  If there are two citations for the same event, I do try to put the best source first.
by Vic Watt G2G6 Pilot (366k points)
+7 votes
I like to keep my sources in chronological order. I might change my mind at some point in the future, but it makes more sense to me to see them laid out like this, as I believe everyone's information tells a story, and to see the sources disjointed throughout the profile is too confusing for me. I'd rather see that the person was a farmer in a place, then moved to another place and changed jobs, had kids, got married, etc. than to see a source that shows where they are buried, followed immediately by the birth of their middle child.
by Scott Fulkerson G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
I agree - a chronological list of sources provides a wealth of information about a person's life.
+6 votes
I agree with the chronological order, which mostly means having a lot of birth sources and lesser amounts of others.  I admit I haven't looked at all of my census records to make sure they each have a birthdate / age, for each person I put them on, but I think census records in the US almost always have dates or ages unless they are 1840 or before.  The next time around, in addition to filling in missing sources, I'll check them and see if I want to enter more data.  the problem is that you get a lot of duplication if you enter the same names into the profiles for each census.
by Living Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (449k points)
+3 votes

I see the good sense in chronological order for sources and often that would be the best guideline.

In the Puritan Great Migration profiles I put Robert Charles Anderson's work at the top, because it's recommended by the PGM project. After that go birth, marriage, and death records from state Vital Records and church records, in that order. Then comes personal diaries from the lifetime of the ancestor - Dr. Winthrop's medical notes or Gov Bradford's diary, for example. Also inserted in the right chronological order with Vitals and church records go any immigration records created at the time of the journey. This includes notes from church records and court records on migrations to new towns, Freeman's Oaths, Military service, jury duty, etc.

Land records could be inserted chronologically, but I prefer to keep them together, right after the Vital Records section - as far as listing sources is concerned. In the biography text, they would be placed chronologically.

Put simply, any primary records created in the lifetime of the ancestor go at the top of sources in chronological order, with Wills placed after the death record. Although Wills are created before the date of death, they are not put into effect until after death, burial, inventory of estate, and probate.

Like Great Migration Begins for PGM project profiles, the profiles designated by the Magna Carta Project have a designated primary source, which is Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, by Douglas Richardson, which is placed at the top of the source list. His newer series, Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, goes next, and after that Medieval Lands, which is one of the designated sources for the European Aristocrats Project, which often overlaps with the Magna Carta Project.

Anderson and Richardson cite and quote primary sources throughout their extensive works, which is why they're chosen for the appropriate projects and why they should go at the top of the source list.

Articles by certified genealogists published in The American Genealogist, the New England Historic Genealogical Register and other such publications go right after Anderson, Richardson, primary records, and Medieval Lands, because they cite and usually reproduce primary records, and also apply good genealogical science in their interpretations of events.

After that are collected histories and lineages that cite sources, the best of which reproduce wills, etc.

Find A Grave Memorials go after the other primary sources - it is a primary source for the death date, not for the birth date, best with an image of the gravestone. Some FaG memorials quote obituaries, adding valuable family information.

Ancestral File, Ancestry Trees, OneWorldTree, are trees usually without any sources, therefore they are questionable. If they cite a primary source, it should be located and added as a source. I put them at the end of the source list.

This list is something I've developed over time, and not all the profiles where I'm PM have been done in that order. I think it is a good idea for the community to agree on how we will order the source list, and I would like to hear from more of our members on how they order source lists.

It is an important question, especially when working on a profile with many merges, and putting the sources together.



by April Dauenhauer G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
I mostly just use inline source citations. Since the Style Guide says to put the <references /> tag immediately after == Sources == and because I prefer the source list to lead with the best source, I tend to add a line under == Biography == that is the person's adult name with title(s) as shown by the best source & then cite that source. It's now first under ==Sources==

I never even thought of trying to order the sources chronologically, because after the best source citation (which would be named... e.g., <ref name=MCA>), the inline source citations would most likely be chronological anyway, following the narrative of the bio that speaks to birth/parents, marriage/spouse, children, & death.
Very good point LIz! Since the first items under Sources are the footnotes, your method is logical, and as you say, the sources (footnotes) would fall into chronological order in the biography. I think I will 'borrow' your method for putting the name and titles right under Biography, with the best source in that footnote.

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