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US Southern Colonies Project Reliable Sources

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US Southern Colonies Project | Reliable Sources | Sources and Resources Directory

Quick-links for Sources pages
US Southern Colonies Project Reliable Sources
Maryland Virginia
This Page has General/Multi-Colony Sources. For Colony Specific Sources, please click on one of the Colony Links above.

This is the Reliable Sources page for the US Southern Colonies Project, which includes profiles covered by pre-1700 project requirements.

This page contains sources focused on the period 1600-1776 recommended (or warned against) by WikiTree's US Southern Colonies Project.

Note: for resources pertaining to learning about the history of the US Southern Colonies, see: US Southern Colonies History.
Note: for creating a citation from a website that has not been provided see citing websites. Add the link from the page that you are sourcing.
  • After finding a reliable source, care must be taken to establish that the source belongs to your profile.
Some pages are under development. See also


Colony Neutral / Multiple Colonies

Sources here are colony-neutral or cover multiple colonies. Reminder: books, databases, compilations, and websites are only as reliable as the sources they cite. They are an extra resources in addition to the Colony Specific Reliable Sources pages.

Reliable Sources

Peer Reviewed Journals

Articles in the following journals are peer-reviewed, typically authored by experienced researchers, and well-cited.
  • Blassingame, John W. “American Nationalism and Other Loyalities in the Southern Colonies 1763-1775.” The Journal of Southern History, vol. 34, no. 1, 1968, pp. 50–75. JSTOR, Accessed 19 June 2021.
  • Journal of the American Revolution. Life in the Southern Colonies: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. move to Resources Page?

Vital Records


See Individual Colonies


See Individual Colonies


See Individual Colonies

Land Records

See Individual Colonies

Probate Records

See Individual Colonies

Tax Records

See Individual Colonies

Other Records

Final Payment Vouchers for Those who fought in the American Revolution. ($)
US National Archives provides access to thousands of Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service


Cokayne's Complete Peerage, 2nd edition, is a reliable source for information about the ancestors of colonial immigrants, although it may not be as useful for the immigrants and their descendants. See the links to online copies provided at
Additional details about The Complete Peerage can be found on the Pre-1500 Resource Page (here).

Reliable Sources with conditions

Sources here are colony-neutral or cover multiple colonies. Reminder: books, databases, compilations, and websites are only as reliable as the sources they cite.

Biographical Compilations

  • Robert E. Brown, The Birth of a Nation: A Portrait of the American People on the Eve of Independence. By Arthur M. Schlesinger. With an introduction by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1968. Pp. viii, 258, xi. $7.95.), The American Historical Review, Volume 74, Issue 4, April 1969, Pages 1357–1359,
  • Richardson, Douglas, Magna Carta Ancestry (2011). Richardson's Magna Carta Ancetry documents connections between the immigrant (Gateway Ancestor) and a Surety Baron. Richardson does not document descendants of the immigrant, although the Gateway's entry may include children and their spouses (in which case, you'll want to explore and access the sources listed following the Gateway's entry).

Surname / Family-Specific Compilations

Emigration / Passenger Lists

This section covers emigration from 1600 to 1776. Passenger lists are generally considered reliable, but the names in compiled lists may or may not reflect a woman's name at the time of her passage (e.g., the 1624/5 Jamestown Muster includes the ship that a settler arrived on but her name at the time of the muster). Information about specific ships can be found on ship category pages (or their companion space pages). Two WikiTree categories are particularly useful:
Southern Colony Ships excluding Jamestown
Chesapeake Colony Ships Jamestown
Jamestown Colony Ships Jamestown
See also the Ship Index on the Space: Jamestown Colony Index.
  • Hotten, John Camden, [ The Original Lists of Persons of Quality]... 1600-1700; London, 1874. link; See also extracted names at PackRat Pro.

Unreliable Sources

This page and the colony-specific reliable sources pages focus on sources "this side of the pond" - post-immigration. Other WikiTree projects' reliable sources pages - such as the Magna Carta Project (Magna Carta Project Reliable Sources) and the European Aristicrats Project (European Aristocrats Project Reliable Sources) - should be consulted when looking for colonists' ancestors. Three sources frequently used to support a connection between colonists and the aristocracy are not considered reliable by those projects, and should be considered unreliable for colonists' profiles:
  • Burke reference works: Avoid all Burke reference works (including Burke's Peerage, Burke's Dormant and Extinct Peerages, and Burke's Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies). They have many errors. 19th century editions are especially unreliable. Cokayne's Complete Peerage covers some of the same ground (see Cokayne, above).
  • Lewis's Database: Marlyn Lewis's "Our Royal Titled Noble and Commoner Ancestors" (ORTNCA) is mostly based on Douglas Richardson's work, which is considered reliable "with conditions" (see Richardson under Biographical Compilations, above), but care must be taken even when it appears that Richardson is the source of information in the database (Lewis includes citations at the end of a phrase or sentence, and sometimes the person's name is the only information given by Richardson).
  • Lundy Database: Darryl Lundy's database ( is largely based on Burke's work. While it can be helpful in identifying possible relationships and lines of inquiry, its use as a source in its own right should be avoided as far as possible.

Examples of Sources that Provide Uncertain Information

Colony Neutral / Multiple Colonies

The following sources should not be cited and are subject to removal from project-managed profiles if found. If these are the only sources on a profile, please replace it with something better prior to removal.
  • Yates' US and International Marriages Index. See this discussion for why.
  • Millennium File: "created by the Institute of Family Research to track the records of its clients and the results of its professional research. It contains more than 880,000 linked family records, with lineages from throughout the world, including colonial America, the British Isles, Switzerland, and Germany. Many of these lineages extend back to nobility and renowned historical figures. In fact, one of the things the Millennium File focuses on is linking to European nobility and royalty."
  • Edmund West Family Data collections, per their own description, "should be used to find primary sources."
  • UNSOURCED user-contributed family trees, including (but not limited to):
    • Pedigree Resource Files on
    • Public or any other family trees from
    • - World Family Tree - RootsWeb / If the tree cites reliable proofs, find the proofs and cite them instead.
    • A personal family tree.
    • Find-A-Grave. Find-A-Grave profiles rarely cite reliable proofs. When they do, find the proofs and cite them.
    • Transcriptions of documents (wills, etc.) found online that are not published.
    • A discussion in a genealogy forum. If the discussion cites reliable proofs, find the proofs and cite them.
    • Books with family trees/family histories that do not cite reliable sources. These books are secondary sources and should be seen as a starting point. Further research is needed to confirm those relationships.

Additionally, it was very popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s to publish family genealogies. These are much like the online trees of today-- their quality varies depending on the extent to which they cite their sources. Some contain accurate information-- especially about the people living within the last 50 years prior to the publication date; but many have been subsequently proven to be incomplete, inaccurate, or in a few rare cases, downright fraudulent. Absent better sources, these old published genealogies can be cited or included under "See also:". A goal of the project, however, is to find more original documentation, closer to the time of the event being cited.

  • Find-a-Grave is a user-contributed site, and as such is generally excluded from the list of reliable sources. Please do not make changes to a profile's vitals, including identification of relations, based solely on information transcribed on a Find-a-Grave profile. The exception is that if the Find-a-Grave profile contains a photo of a contemporaneous gravestone (i.e., a gravestone created and placed at the time of the person's death) and includes information about the person's death, you can cite the Find-a-Grave profile for the death information, and for other information that appears on the gravestone. Please understand, though, that even gravestones may contain erroneous information.
  • Lineage Society Applications. Lineage societies such as Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Society for Colonials Wars, and others, vary with regard to the proofs that they require for membership. And some, like DAR, have changed their rules over time. Therefore, such applications should be used more as finding aids than actual sources. When looking at a lineage society application, please check what sources they cite, and then seek to find those actual sources.
  • Links to sources on paid subscription sites such as Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage can be frustrating for WikiTree members and visitors without access to these sites. We recommend searching for a freely available copy of the source document on sites such as FamilySearch, Google Books, USGenWeb,, or HathiTrust.
If the source record is only available to paid subscribers, when providing the URL please also extract as much information as possible, such as relevant names, dates, and the source of the original data.
Return to US Southern Colonies Project

Quick-links for Sources pages
US Southern Colonies Project Reliable Sources
Maryland Virginia

ALL data that was originally on this page has been permanently moved to a Colony Page. Craig-4574 13:19, 19 June 2021 (UTC)


Comments: 33

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Hello everyone - there is an old free space page created by David Douglass several years ago (Pre-1700 Resource Page), which is going to be shut down at the end of July to avoid confusion. This page was created before many current projects existed, and has now been overtaken by the official "Reliable Sources" pages for the individual Projects, including this one and the linked colony sources. I plan to review everything on that page and incorporate what seems relevant into what I think is the proper place on our complex of reliable source pages, but if anyone has any issues with how I do it weigh in (i.e., especially if you are specific responsibility for one of the colonial teams and what to tweak the placement, add commentary, etc.). Thanks everyone.
posted by Scott McClain
edited by Scott McClain
Somehow I had previously missed Rick Pierpoint's collection of sources, some of which overlap with ours, and I've recently found it useful. But I'm not sure of the best way to integrate it/reference it on our source pages.
posted by Jack Day
The table at has links to Sources-United States of America and the state-level pages (Rick maintains the USA, Maryland, and Virginia pages; the NC/SC/GA pages are maintained by others - I prefer the organization of the pages Rick maintains, but they all have useful information).
posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
Are citations on "Family Search" considered reliable sources?
posted by Anne Massey
Yes, if they are not to a family tree or to any of the FamilySearch unreliable sources listed under 'Unreliable Sources' listed above.
posted by Laura DeSpain
Thanks for the update/note re: Zolla Armstrong's book. I just thought to check WikiTree's source pages & there is one (but it doesn't give the timeframe covered):

posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
Hi all, I'm reading this page and looking to ensure that I understand what is reliable and what isn't. I'm currently working on a profile that has dedicated managers (approx 15 of them!) who disagree on many of the sources listed.

Is it appropriate to have a sources section and then a section below that listing the 'unreliable sources'? Just saw the see also comment above...can I use that?

Also, I've seen links to pages that need permission to view in the sources section and that seems inappropriate to me.

Looking for guidance....


posted by Kim (Kroesing) Marcus M.S.
edited by Kim (Kroesing) Marcus M.S.
Especially if the different profile managers disagree,. it's important to use in-line citations for every fact. Then the profile managers can disagree with the source rather than with each other. In the in-line citation reference itself you can discuss the quality of the source: <ref> Cynthia Jones. Plantations of Middle Virginia. Richmond: Galaxy Publishing, 1847. Volume I, page 23. Jones has provided a comprehensive list of plantations, but, regrettably, gets many of her facts wrong and her work is often considered unreliable. Her material on the Middlebush plantation, however, is considered quite accurate. </ref>

The problem with providing just a list of sources (which you could group into reliable and unreliable) is that the reader doesn't know which fact in the biography you got from which source.

posted by Jack Day
edited by Jack Day
Wonderful advice. I will be sure to use it moving forward.


I agree with Jack about inline citations for every fact claimed and would also add in response to your second question -- not sure if this is what you mean, but not all reliable sources are available for free online. It's always best to cite a free version of a good source if you can find it for free online, but sometimes the most reliable sources are only available behind a pay wall on subscription sites like or, or they might not be available anywhere online and require a trip to the library to review. However, they are still good, reliable sources. The key is to provide a citation to them that makes it as easy as possible for others to find the source. Ideally, that means using the Evidenced Explained format which is the preferred source style for WikITree.
posted by Scott McClain
Thanks for the tip re: Evidenced Explained. I will read that article.
Thank you, Sandy, for the work you're doing on this page-- and moving the colony-specific info off of it.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Thanks! I could not have dug in without all of your great advice!
posted by Sandy (Craig) Patak
I see that you have taken the information I had added under a heading of Reliable Sources with Conditions - about Jamestowne Society and Ancient Planters of Virginia - and headed them with "These need review". Is what I wrote not sufficient?
posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
I do not feel Jamestown Society and Ancient Planters of Virginia (actually) Jamestown need review..

Jamestown Society is the link for one of the stickers source. [MR]

Maybe Jamestown Sources should just stay on Jamestown page. [MR]

posted by Mary Richardson
edited by Mary Richardson
This page is a work in progress being coordinated by Laura DeSpain and myself under the direction of David Douglas (per your request, Liz); we are first trying to organize it based on headings Liz has recommended. (That part is now done, just now.)

The second wave of effort will be to add links ON THIS PAGE to the various colony-specific source pages. Ideally, those pages would also be organized as Reliable, Reliable (with conditions), and Unreliable, then we could link to specific sections within those pages. This wave has not yet begun.

The third wave of activity will be to slowly move those items on THIS page that are colony-specific to their colony-specific source pages (if they're not there already) so that we do not have duplication. This wave of activity has not yet begun.

Fourth wave: there are a number of items listed at the bottom of this page that are not sources, but resources; they need to be reviewed; if still active links, they need to be moved to the appropriate RESOURCE page. This wave of activity has not yet been started.

Fifth wave of activity will be to review those sources that remain on this page, to determine whether or not they have an existing SOURCE profile page; if so, link to it (and update it if necessary); if not create such a page. This wave of activity has not yet begun.

Am I missing any waves?

posted by Jillaine Smith
edited by Jillaine Smith
We have a semantic problem between "citations," "references," and "footnotes." WikiTree's audience is comprised of people who also look to Geni and Ancestry for material. When our better-documented profiles conflict with errors on those sites, sometimes it is important to identify the discrepancies and provide a link to the site containing the error. I may say something like "Several popular genealogies including Geni erroneously show Jones as married to a Martha Gray <ref> Geni, link </ref>." The way this page is currently written is an invitation to someone to come along and delete the reference, beause i am citing Geni. I am certainly not using Geni as a source in this instance -- but I am citing something found there which seemed important to note.
posted by Jack Day
I agree. Thanks for bringing that up.

On the question of semantics.... A recommendation for a needs= category was "Inline Sourcing". I started researching that today (before getting distracted) and was surprised that among the many things the help pages call them, "inline source" wasn't one! However, WikiTree does use citations, references, and footnotes interchangeably (and mean footnote when referring to an inline reference). says you can "Embed them as references (footnotes)" or list them below the references tag below the "Sources" heading. has the following:

  • Sources: "What we call sources could be called items in a source list, bibliography, or works cited." with the next paragraph saying "On WikiTree we put them beneath the references and a line that says "See also:". "
  • References: "What we call references could be called citations, reference notes, inline references, footnotes, or endnotes." and the next paragraph says "A reference provides a source for a specific statement in the text."

Perhaps the simplest solution: if something is between ref tags, US Southern Colonies Project refers to it as a footnote with a general rule of thumb that ideally facts in the biography section need to have footnotes providing a reliable source to support those facts; that all of a profile's information needs to say where it came from, regardless of the quality of the source; and that information from unreliable sources would probably be better presented in the Research Notes section instead of the biography.

The Examples section of Help:Sources says

Fundamentally, a good source citation enables others to:
  • judge the accuracy of the information found on the profile, and
  • independently verify the information by finding the source themselves.

When I have had profiles that included "Reliable with Conditions" sources, the info is in the bio with an inline, er, with a footnote & the entry in the bibliography includes a note to see the project's Reliable Sources page for cautions about using the source. A similar warning that the source is considered unreliable could be used if we have a profile that's only sourced by unsourced Geni or MyHeritage or other online trees.

posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
found this on a lot of pages... Should be one of the general sources on this page (there is a link to it, but it's not described). Thanks!

FULL TEXT OF: "The original lists of persons of quality; emigrants; religious exiles; political rebels; serving men sold for a term of years; apprentices; children stolen; maidens pressed; and others who went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700 : with their ages and the names of the ships in which they embarked, and other interesting particulars; from mss. preserved in the State Paper Department of Her Majesty's Public Record Office, England"] Searchable format

posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
And I've added it to the reliable resources page that I am monitoring (see comment below).

We need to figure out how to merge the two.

posted by Jillaine Smith
i logged in as WikiTree-24 an hour ago in order to merge them & discovered that the US Southern Colonies Project Reliable Sources page is managed not by the US Southern Colonies Project but by the Southern Pioneers Project. WikiTree-24 sent a trusted list request to be made manager instead but if you could also add me as manager I can do the merge without logging back in as WikiTree-24.
posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett

Your comment must be at least 30 characters long.

posted by Jillaine Smith
Found a third us so col source page that needs merging into the above:

posted by Jillaine Smith
Laura created that page as a reference for the Sourcerers Team - once we get the other pages sorted out, we'll decide what to do with it.
posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
Can we add - Colonial and State Records of North Carolina, UNC-Chapel Hill, available:
posted on US Southern Colonies Reliable Sources (merged) by Christina (Gray) Mckeithan
Done! I know that North Carolina also has its own reliable sources page (somewhere).
posted on US Southern Colonies Reliable Sources (merged) by Jillaine Smith
New to the U.S. Southern Colonies Project and happened upon another resource looking for something else. Did not want to add without another opinion. Can read, download, print. The first five paragraphs are about bringing enslaved people in to early Colonial Virginia.

Stevenson, Brenda E. "The question of the slave female community and culture in the American South: methodological and ideological approaches". The Journal of African American History Vol. 92, Issue 1 (Winter 2007): ?-?

posted by Mary Gossage
Looks like this might be a useful addition for Virginia. It includes numerous Colonial entries.;query=James

Bibliography of Jamestown Sources, Jamestown Archaeological Assessment, 1992-1996, National Park Service, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

posted by Mary Gossage