Source Page Review Guide




This is an overview of the process of reviewing source pages. I'm thinking this page will link to additional pages that will focus on the specific issues that come up with various categories of source pages. See WeRelate:Current Source Projects for information on current source projects. See the Related Links section, below, for more detailed discussion of various types of source pages.

Defining Scope of Project

Geographic entities are a convenient way to generate a subset of WeRelate source pages for review, but they are certainly not the only way. One could take on a source page review project of all pages of a particular type, a particular subject or even a particular time period. Keep in mind that any of your searches will be limited, because not all the titles that might be in the purview of your study will have the particular field you are searching on filled in, or filled in correctly. That being said, a geographic area search is probably the most likely to be comprehensive if you are doing a delimited search.

It is also possible to use the "Key word" search field to search as broadly as possible for the topic or area you are choosing to search. This method practically guarantees you will get titles that are not applicable to your area of interest, but it is less likely to leave out source pages that you are interested in but that are not coded properly.

For example, a search for sources with "Maine, United States" or just "Maine" in the Place field returns 3,720 source pages. A search for Maine in the keyword field returns 5,237 sources and includes sources in Maine, France and sources where the book was published in Maine but does not concern a Maine-related topic. However, this search will also reveal pages with Maine in the title, like family histories/genealogies, that may not have the Places field filled in.

Tasks to consider in Source Page review

This list is not necessarily comprehensive (tho I hope with additions by others it will become more so!). Nor must all these items be addressed when reviewing source pages -- some elements will already be completed on most source pages, and users who take on a Source page review project may decide to limit their scope to specific tasks. The goal is to describe the possible elements in a source page review project and provide guidance on the issues that might arise.

Reviewing pages for content:

Are the type and subject fields filled in (correctly)? Is there a date range that can be identified and filled in?

  • Type fields: Sources that originated from often do not have an assigned type. Sources that originated from the Family History Library are often called "Miscellaneous." Please correct this field by selecting an appropriate type. These are mostly obvious, but for more guidance, see [Insert a help page link, or create a help page - so far I can't find one]
  • Subject fields: These are generally filled in, but they are not always correct. Before beginning a source review project, familiarize yourself with the subject options. When reviewing a source, take a look at this field and determine whether the most appropriate selection has been made.
These are the common changes made in the subject field:
  • Many sources under the Directory subject are actually sources that have several possible subjects, such as vital records, and legal records, and cemetery records all included in a collection of microfilmed town records. I generally choose vital records as the subject, on the theory that vital records are going to be the most likely item a future researcher is going to search for. I add the other subjects to the page as categories (see category section, below).
  • Many sources labeled Church records do not have the denomination noted. If it is possible to determine the denomination through further research, add it.
  • Many sources labeled Ethnic/Cultural do not have a subset noted. If it is possible to determine an appropriate subgroup, add it. If you think there should be an addition to this list, let Dallan know, and add details regarding the topic of the source to the Text box. Some sources that focus on women's histories have been labeled Ethnic/Cultural; I generally have moved these to the History category, but an argument could be made that such works should be separately categorized.
  • Many sources labeled History are more appropriately called Family Tree. Family Tree is designed to cover the classic "family genealogy" texts and article, on a given person or surname and his or her ancestors and descendants. Family trees and charts can also be included.
  • Other fields: Number of Volumes, Places Covered, Surnames Covered, Year Range should also be reviewed for accuracy.
Common issues that occur include:
  • Number of volumes is often empty in multi-volume sets.
  • A surname has been moved to the Places Covered field. In my case, I commonly see sources where the subject involves the surname "Maine" and the location is not Maine at all.
  • A place name has been translated to multiple locations, at least one of which is incorrect. For example, a source focused on the town of Lebanon, Maine generally has "Lebanon" (the country) in the Places Covered field, as well as "Lebanon, York, Maine, United States."
  • In accordance with the Family History Library catalog methodology, U.S. Colonial period sources are defined by default as 1600-1775. If the source itself specifies a more limited time range, you may want to update the Year Range field accordingly.
  • When a source covers New England, WeRelate translates that very broadly - adding the United States and states from Virginia and West Virginia, west to Pennsylvania and New York and north to Maine to the Places Covered field. In many cases that is appropriate, as a New England topic could generally covers all of the early northern colonies. But if I can verify that the actual source is limited either to the six New England states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) or a subset of the New England states (such as a book on northern New England), I will edit the Places list accordingly. Similarly, if you know the title in question does not include any information relevant to your area of interest, feel free to remove that Place name from the list.
  • Sometimes, the list of Surnames Covered in WeRelate sources are missing prefixes (such as Van, De, Van Der, etc). A quick check of the FHLC entry (see the notes field) will confirm the correct surname spelling, and these can be added to the WR source. Note that the surnames in the FHLC subjects field may also not be correct.

Review Source Page name format

Is the format of the source page name consistent with the rules we identified last year? See Help:Source page titles for details. WeRelate:Source renaming project has a convenient table showing the rules for different types of source pages.

The most common changes include:

  • After combining duplicates, removing FHL catalog number auto generated by WeRelate and added to the end of duplicate source page names.
  • Formatting a Source Page name into the "Periodical" format - i.e. "Title (Publisher)"
  • Formatting Source Page name into the Government/Church record format - i.e. "Place. Title"
  • Adding a first name to an author previously noted by initials, in order to diambiguate the source (so that the author's works will be in search results together).
Note this is my practice; to my knowledge it hasn't be discussed by the wiki to determine whether an exact replica of the author's name on the book is preferable to a modified and more complete author's name. But my observation from WorldCat and Google Books is that it is common to spell out at least the author's first name when known, even if that isn't what is on the book.
  • Adding publication year or edition number to the end of a Source Page name in order to disambiguate separate editions of a source.

Reviewing and correcting bibliographic information:

When a title has been imported from the Family History Library, it often contains only the microfilm bibliographic information. See Example 1, below. WeRelate's policy is to generally refer to the first publication information for the source (or, if there are multiple editions of a source in WeRelate that are not combined, the first publication of the applicable edition). Original publication info can often be found in the FHLC entry (see the Notes field) or WorldCat. See Example 2, below. Sources that were imported from Ancestry may have missing data in the publication fields, and many of their older (out-of-copyright) sources have a default publication date of 1992, which should be corrected.

Special issues:

  • Some sources were never formally published (a typescript or manuscript that is held at a library or was lent to the Family History Library for microfilming).
  • Government records don't have traditional publication info. One can identify the locality as the "Publisher" and perhaps use the specific office where the records are collected as the author. Generally, I don't put a date of publication on these types of records.
  • For these "unpublished" records, should the original repository (where the item was obtained from microfilm) be the publisher?
  • [Discuss use of brackets for assumed publication information (these usually imported to WeRelate incorrectly). Also, use of s.n and S.l. for publisher and place of publication]

These are issues that have not yet been discussed/decided by the wiki as a whole; my notes here reflect only my practice at this point, so feel free to make a better suggestion or question my decisions!

Add Repository information:

I use a separate browser window with (at least) WorldCat, Internet Archive and Google Books to add alternate ways a user might obtain a source. WorldCat provides information on libraries (mostly larger institutional libraries); the Internet Archive and Google Books provide online copies of out-of-copyright books. Google also often has "limited previews" available of current academic titles in particular. Depending on the source, I might also add specialized libraries, like the DAR Library. I use the Family History Library information on where they obtained the source to give me clues as to where the original might be held (for example, if Family History Library entry states the original was microfilmed at the Maine Historical Society, I'll add the Maine Historical Society to the repositories, with details if I can obtain them).

Adding repositories might also lead you to add some additional text as well. There is a template I place in the text field when I add WorldCat to the repositories for a source. See Template:WorldCat. It can be added to a source page by typing {{WorldCat}} in the text box.

Some of the commonly used repositories are: Internet Archive, Google Books, WorldCat, Family History Archives, and HathiTrust.

Examples of added Repositories:

Add content information:

Particularly when reviewing source pages with generic titles (like Town Records of XXX), I add some details from either an online version of the title, or from the Family History Library catalog entry (often additional details are on the "film notes" page). Details can be added next to the film numbers, or can be added as a bulleted list.

Examples of added content:

Remove Duplicate Sources:

There are still plenty of duplicate Source Pages - review your search results for possible duplicates and merge as needed.

To merge duplicate source pages:

  1. Open each source page in separate browser tabs
  2. Combine the accurate information from each page onto the page with the properly formatted Source Page name and Save the page. All of the information on the old page will be deleted, so be sure to move over any important data first.
  3. Go to the duplicate source page (the one you don't want to keep). Put the following onto the first line of the big text box: #REDIRECT[[title of page here]] where title of page here is the title of the page that you do want to keep. Press Save page
  4. Now, the old page will be redirected to the page you want to keep.

There is some help text about redirecting pages here.

There are some special circumstances that can apply to duplicate sources:

Duplicates that are multiple editions

If you are merging duplicate sources that represent multiple editions of the same source book, be sure to add the "multiple edition" language (This source may refer to multiple editions of the same book. If it is important to you to refer to a specific edition, you may create a separate Source page for that edition with the year of the edition in parentheses after the title.) when applicable. This is a WeRelate template (Template:MultipleEditions). To use the template, place {{MultipleEditions}} in the text box.

Duplicates where the original source has been used on Person or Family pages

The #redirect[[title here]] command will send any links from the page you are merging to the single Source Page that remains after merging, but sometimes we end up with a redirect to a redirect to a redirect, which can cause problems. Generally, WeRelate administrators will be keeping an eye on these and and fixing them, so no special action is required, but if you are comfortable going the extra mile, here are the steps for "cleaning up" the links to the now-redirected Source page:

  1. Check the "What Links Here" link (left side navigation bar on each page) for the Source Page you are merging (the page that will be getting the "redirect" language and will be removed after merging).
  2. If there are Person or Family pages on the "What Links Here" page, open them and update the applicable citation with the name of the final (the one you are keeping) Source Page.
  3. Save the page, noting in the Summary field that this is a minor edit to update the source page link.

This "cleans up" the Source Page/Person-Family Page link and prevents possible multiple redirects.

Disambiguate and Cross-Reference:

If there are multiple editions that shouldn't be merged, I fix the source page names to disambiguate, and add information on both source pages to provide a link to the alternate edition. Cross-referencing is also really helpful when there are title/publisher variations over a period of years in the directories for a particular area, or when a periodical changes its name or merges with another periodical. I also cross reference indexes and the main publication.

Examples of cross references:

Add categories:

Finally, I add categories to the pages where appropriate. This is particularly helpful when a source could be identified with more than one subject. Adding a category allows you to indicate other possible uses for the source. See Help:Categories for further information on Categories at WeRelate. This page explains the format used to add a category to a page. See also WeRelate:Category index for a useful outline of existing categories and the available (more specialized) subcategories that you might wish to use. Generally the Categories for a page are the last items in the text box, and are entered as [[Category:(''Category Name here'')]]

WeRelate has had a variety of discussion and permutations of the Subject vs. Category question as tools for sorting and viewing related sources. I don't know if there are definitive answers yet. Some categories, such as [[Category:Vital records]], will ultimately benefit from have geographic subgroups automatically added to the category (i.e. Vital Records in Maine would be a different subgroup than Vital Records in West Virginia). Since I don't yet know at what level these geographic subgroupings will be applied (they can be auto-generated), I have been adding the current applicable categories to source pages even tho they are fairly generic and duplicative of the Subject field.

Commonly used categories include:

Example 1: WeRelate Source page Before Review

Example 2: Related Family History Library Catalog Entry

This FHL catalog entry shows the original publication info

Related Articles