Source talk:Scotland, Old parochial registers

Format Options

As TomChatt and I both recently noticed, the old parochial registers for Scotland all have a title along the lines of "Old parochial registers, year - year". The parish name needs to be added to distinguish between all the different registers. I think it best if we try to stick with a consistent name format.

1. TomChatt used the format: Old parochial registers of St. Martins Scotland, 1686-1856

2. I had used the format: Newburn parish, Old parochial registers, 1628-1854

3. Or perhaps better is: Newburn, Scotland, Old parochial registers, 1628-1854

I prefer format 3, just because that seems to be the way I think, but I could use any of them.

Other opinions on any of the formats?

--Lauren 06:55, 19 December 2006 (MST)

It was I that made that change last night. Similar names, and it looks like all of us are making some entries in Scotland, and noticing inconsistencies, or titling that could be made more specific.

I noticed that you had made the change last night, and when I originally began to make the change to the parish I'd been referencing I did it the same way. This was the way I had suggested doing it when I pointed it out in the thread a couple days ago: St. Martins Scotland parochial registers, 1686-1856. But then when I went to make the change I realized that while they now show up in a list of parish registers in the drop down when entering sources, if the geographical area is mentioned first they will no longer do it this way. And records for geographical areas are already accessible by looking at the category page for that parish. While the number of sources for large areas of provinces is overwhelming when looking at the category page, for the couple parishes I've looked at there are only three or four sources there, so the proper one is easy to find.

When I've been entering census records for Canada, I type Source:Census of Canada, and then usually wait for the drop down functionality to find the correponding records and then select the proper year from those available. Likewise, if parish registers are in this format where the type of document is first, I could type Source:Parochial registers and wait for the drop down to populate the list to select from. When I made the change I left it with the wording "Old parochial registers..." so the change I made would still appear in the present unchanged list of registers. "Old" is sort of a meaningless and redundant adjective when the dates are specified; I think it would be better to remove that also.

So, right now I like the format Source:[Document type] of [Geographic area] - [Date]

  • Source:Census of Canada - 1861
  • Source:Death records of Ontario - 1885-1931
  • Source:Parochial registers of St. Martins, Scotland - 1686-1856

(Actually, Source:Parochial registers of Scotland, St. Martins - 1686-1856 would work better, keeping Scottish records separate from French or Italian or wherever records)


  • Source:Parish registers of Scotland, St. Martins, 1686-1856 (so people won't need to remember how to spell Parochial)

I don't know how we determine what the best practice would be, and if we should make changes as we go in the areas we're working, or if it's best to have someone take the time to make wholesale changes to ensure consistency. --Tim 09:05, 19 December 2006 (MST)


Sorry about the Tim vs. Tom goof. I was trying to work too fast and trying to remember rather than carefully checking!

I was planning on changing the Fife and Lanark parish records entries once we decided on a consistant format. Personally, I prefer something close to your last suggestion:

  • Source:Old Parish Registers of Scotland, St. Martins, 1686-1856

I've never referred to them as "parochial" registers before and the official Government Records Office website refers to them as "Old Parish Registers".

--Lauren 09:46, 19 December 2006 (MST)

The format Source:Old Parish Registers of Scotland, St. Martins, 1686-1856 works for me. I say we leave the question open a couple days to see if anyone else has a better way or other concerns, and then begin making changes as we go in the general areas we're working on.

I was hopeful that when moving pages the system might somehow dynamically upgrade the source references on pages that reference the original page, but I don't observe that happening. So moving these source pages would also mean going back into person and family pages and updating the references. Doing so does, however, create a more descriptive reference on the person page --Tim 16:59, 19 December 2006 (MST)

Tom here, not to be confused with Tim. :-) The way I've been manually entering my refs is "Church of Scotland, Old Parish Registers, Parish of Birse (1760-1854)". I believe that's the proper bibliographic citation, and is the way they list it at the Family History Library and the Scottish National Archives. Definitely "parish" instead of "parochial", for both reasons already cited -- that's the term used by GRO and nobody can spell "parochial". :-) I think it's useful to include the "Church of Scotland" part up front, because that not only locates it within the country, but identifies the church. (I think there are a few old Roman Catholic parish registers floating around in Scotland.) I hadn't noticed the automated dropdown feature on the "Source" field, but if it works the same way as some of the others, I think it's the comma that triggers it, so after you type "Church of Scotland," you should get a drop-down of Old Parish Registers.

In general, when you "move" a page in wikis, the old page continues to exist but automatically redirects you to the new page. Thus, pages already created pointing to the old page will continue to point to the old page, but clicking on it will automaticaly get you to the new page. The downside, as Tim has already observed, is that after moving our parish sources to better names, we'll have to manually go back to our existing pages and re-create the link if we wish it to be displayed under the new name. (It's possible the system administrator could write a script to do that automatically, if any of us has a sufficiently large number of pages to make it worth while. At this point, I still have only a few dozen pages that I'd want to fix. Tedious but do-able.) --TomChatt 01:15, 20 December 2006 (MST)

One possible issue with putting the record type first is that we have thousands of sources that begin with words like "Parish", "Vital", "Census", etc., and the autocomplete drop-down shows only the first 500. If we began sources with place names, the autocomplete list after entering the first word would be shorter for most places. Having said this however, I think it's more important to follow "proper bibliographic citation" than to worry too much about how the drop-down list looks.

Sources from the FHLC generally have the same title as they do in the FHLC (with a number to make them unique if necessary), but some of these sources were probably cataloged years ago so that could explain why the titles are not as good as they could be. I'll order a copy of Mills' Evidence! book to see what it has to say as well.--Dallan 16:10, 20 December 2006 (MST)

Okay, my vote is for going with "Church of Scotland, Old Parish Registers, Parish of Birse (1760-1854)" if that's the proper bibliographic method. Does this follow some official format that can be applied to similar situations? I think there are many source records that don't have the location stated, so it would be good to know the preferred ordering, should we stumble upon similar situations where we think source page titles could be renamed to be more descriptive and easier to find. Yes, putting the location first would help by returning a limited number of possible records when the records are kept by parish or village, but would also return an unmanageable number of sources when looking for records by country or state or province. I don't think we can expect to find the proper record by typing "Parish" or "Census" because I realize that would return records from all over the world, but I know after having sourced Canadian census records a couple times that if I now type "Source:Census of Canada," I will get a dropdown of the available years, and I'll be able to select the correct page title. Likewise, after the Scottish parish records are changed, I will know - after having reference them a couple times - that I can find the right reference by typing "Source:Church of Scotland," (or "Source:Old Parish Registers," if we choose to go the other way), and I'll be able to select the proper title by looking for the parish I'm working in. As it is right now, I need to write down the dates that the record is specified by, as that is the only way to know I'm selecting the proper reference. (And it won't be a big chore at this stage if we have to manually change the reference to point to the new page; I was just hopeful that some sort of reordering when a page is moved was a special feature of wiki software.)--Tim 20:20, 20 December 2006 (MST)

"Church of Scotland, Old Parish Registers, Parish of Birse (1760-1854)" works for me too! --Lauren 09:16, 21 December 2006 (MST)

I've just read "Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian" by Elizabeth Shown Mills. She talks about two formats for genealogical sources: a citation format and a bibliographic format. The citation format generally goes from most-specific to least-specific (e.g., "Registre des Mariages 1 (original volume), unpaginated, arranged by date, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Cloutierville (Natchitoches Parish), Louisiana."). Just to be clear, counties in Louisiana are called parishes, and parish in the preceding example refers to the county-level locality, not the church. The bibliographic format seems to follow a "who, what, where" approach, and goes from least-specific to most specific (e.g., "Louisiana. Natchitoches Parish. St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Cloutierville. Marriage Registers").

  • The "who" part identifies the creator of the record: an individual (in "surname, given name(s)" format), or an agency. If the agency is not globally unique, it is preceded by the jurisdiction it covers, from the highest-level locality to the lowest-level (e.g., "Louisiana. Natchitoches Parish. St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Cloutierville.")
  • The "what" part identifies the record: the title of a specific work, or the type of record with an optional date range (e.g., "Marriage Registers"). Information about the type of media (e.g., cd-rom, microfilm) and/or location may be included after the title (e.g., film number, roll number).
  • The "where" part identifies where someone can locate the record, if this is different from the creating agency. For published works it is the publisher (in "publisher location: publisher name, publication year" format). For other works it may be "repsitory name, repository location".
By the way, I've added this information to Tim's comments on WeRelate talk:Source page titles. where hopefully we can get a more general discussion going over time.--Dallan 12:27, 2 January 2007 (MST)

Given this information on how to cite sources, if "Church of Scotland" is the authoring agency and also the repository where the original records can be found, then "Church of Scotland, Old Parish Registers, Parish of Birse (1760-1854)" works for me as well. If the records are considered authored by the parish and the parish holds the originals, then maybe the title should be something like "Scotland. Aberdeen. Church of Scotland, Birse Parish. Old Parish Registers (1760-1854)" or "Church of Scotland, Parish of Birse. Old Parish Registers (1760-1854)".--Dallan 12:00, 2 January 2007 (MST)

Programming comments

A clarification: for places the autocomplete is trigged when you enter a comma, but for sources the autocomplete is triggered after you have entered a few characters after the "Source:" or "MySource:" prefix and pause awhile (the pause is shorter when you've entered a space, comma or forward-slash(/)).

If you will rename the sources, I'll be happy to write a program to update your existing pages! :-).--Dallan 16:10, 20 December 2006 (MST)

Dallan, Would it be possible to create "alternate names" for sources like the ones used for places? It would be a lot easier on my not-so-old but arthritic fingers if I only had to enter "OPR, Birse" instead of "Church of Scotland, Old Parish Registers, Parish of Birse (1760-1854)" every time I entered a source. --Lauren 09:16, 21 December 2006 (MST)
What about the following? What if you created a "Source:OPR, Birse" page that included only "#redirect [[Source:Church of Scotland, Old Parish Registers, Parish of Birse (1760-1854)]]" in the text field. This causes the "Source:OPR, Birse" page to be a redirect to the "Source:Church of Scotland, Old Parish Registers, Parish of Birse (1760-1854)" page. Then "Source:OPR, Birse" will show up in the autocomplete drop-down. If you select it, when you save the person/family page the system will check your sources to see if they're redirects and if so, will replace them with the titles that they redirect to. So your "Source:OPR, Birse" would be replaced with "Source:Church of Scotland, Old Parish Registers, Parish of Birse (1760-1854)" when you save the page.--Dallan 13:03, 21 December 2006 (MST)

That was my first thought, but then I remembered the "alternate names" for places, so I wasn't sure which method would be best. I'll go ahead and set up the redirects. My fingers thank you! --Lauren 13:46, 21 December 2006 (MST)
No problem. I'm going to take next Monday and Tuesday off, so I'll add this Wednesday or Thursday.--Dallan 10:54, 23 December 2006 (MST)
I made the change. From now on if you save a person or family page that has a "Source:redirected source title" as a source, the system will change it to the title that the source redirects to.--Dallan 18:57, 28 December 2006 (MST)