WeRelate talk:Source page titles

See the discussion at Source Talk:Scotland, Old parochial registers for making changes to source pages for Scottish Parish Records.

This page is for discussing what should be the preferred format for all source records, so that we have some idea of best practice when changing the now sometimes imprecise or cluttered titles to something more descriptive and easier to find.


Format [document type] for [geographic area ordered general to specific] - [dates]

A format suggested above for the Scottish records is: Source:[Document Type] for [Geographic Area ordered General to Specific] - [Dates]. I don't know if this way works best overall, or if there's a better approach.

I know that when I'm referencing the Canadian census, I like that they populate the dropdown in date order when I type Source:Census for Canada,. Then, because there's some consistency, I'm confident I'm choosing the right one, and I know where to find them. --Tim 17:15, 19 December 2006 (MST)

Format [creator] [title / document type, dates]

The book "Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian" by Elizabeth Shown Mills 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 "repository name, repository location".

I wonder if we should follow a similar format for source titles, except omit the publisher/repository from the source title and just put it in the data-entry fields on the source page.--Dallan 12:24, 2 January 2007 (MST)

Title for U.S. Census records [7 June 2008]

I don't see a WR source for the 1850 United States Census, Illinois, St. Clair County. In creating a new Source page for this, does anybody have any suggestions? I kind of like the title I have above. --Debbie V. 14:45, 9 May 2007 (MDT)

I think people generally agree that titles of source pages for record-sets ought to include the place covered (from general to specific), the type of record, and the year (or year range). The question is what order these should appear in. We need to have all source page titles for record-sets use the same ordering for consistency. What should go first? If we put the place first, then an alphabetical listing of sources would list all sources for a place together. A concern with putting record type first is that record types don't use a standardized vocabulary, so a source might be listed under "census" but a person starts typing "population schedule" and doesn't find the census source. If we were to begin with places, then as a person enters the place they'll see all sources for the place in the drop-down list and they'll hopefully notice the "census" source even if they're looking for population schedule. We could put year (or year ranges) first as you suggest, but are there record-sets where the exact year range is unknown?
But back to your question, until we come up with a "standard" place title format for sources, feel free to title the source as you'd like.--Dallan 23:44, 9 May 2007 (MDT)
Actually, I like the "United States, State, County, Census, Year" best. This is what I use in my personal database. I have some thoughts regarding the census record titles.
  • Should we distinguish types of census records - population schedules, slave schedules, and farm schedules?
  • Should we limit the end point of the place to the county or should we go down further to the township/district level?
--Debbie V. 07:54, 10 May 2007 (MDT)
I'm open to suggestions on either of these points.--Dallan 08:57, 11 May 2007 (MDT)
Looking through the Source index for census titles reveals that most titles begin the the year of the census. I think this is better than what I stated above (Place, type of record, year) because it quickly gives you a view of what's already available. So I think a better way would be Year, Census (type optional)and Place (general to specific). As an example - 1850 Census, Population Schedule, United States, Illinois, St. Clair County. I think that for U.S. Census records, we should end at the county level, because some of the lower levels (townships, districts, etc) are not that descriptive, nor do they include an entire place (a city can be recorded in more than one district, etc). --Debbie V. 09:53, 11 May 2007 (MDT)
Okay, after creating a Source page with the words "population schedule" in it, I can see that is not helpful to insert this between the words "1850 Census" and "Illinois" - it just doesn't fit in with what is there already when you scroll down the drop-down list. So here's my latest recommendation - 1850 Census, United States, Illinois, St. Clair County - the simpler the better.--Debbie V. 11:58, 11 May 2007 (MDT)
Starting with year and record type wouldn't be my first choice, because I'm not sure how well it would carry over to other types of records; e.g., what's the year range for parish records I find at a church, and are they parish records, church records, or baptisms? If we start with the place instead, I can see all of the different sources for a town in the drop-down once I've entered the complete town name - and I can see if there's already a source for the parish that says either parish records or church records or baptisms. Changing the titles of the existing source pages is something we need to do anyway (we'll do this automatically, not manually). How much don't you like going with the "place, record type, year" format for records?--Dallan 12:12, 14 May 2007 (MDT)
I'd be a bit confused by the "place, record type, year" format for census sources. If I wanted to find a specific census record, on-line or in a library, usually the first step is to select the census year, then the (in the US) state, then county, so "1850 Census, United States, Illinois, St. Clair County" makes more sense to me. In the case of farm or other schedules, the schedule type needs to be added: "1850 Census, farm schedule, United States, Illinois, St. Clair County" although whether it should go after "1850 Census" or after the county is debateable. We need the "United States" or at least "U.S." to be included to since we will also need to source non-U.S. census. --Lauren 07:24, 15 May 2007 (MDT)
The problem is I don't want to have one format for census records and a different format for church/parish/baptism records. Whatever format we choose will need to be consistent across record types. There's no rush on this - we can think about it for awhile.--Dallan 20:03, 15 May 2007 (MDT)
As I mentioned in my first post on this topic, in my personal database, my census, marriage, death and burial sources are arranged by place, starting with the states and descending by county, city, cemetery, etc.
There are some records that would have to be listed otherwise - for example a Surname book which would cover all kind of places and dates. Or what about a ship's manifest, do you list it by where it departed, where it landed, or ? Some databases, such as the WWI registration cards, cover an entire country and probably should not be broken down. In the WWI database example, the details (state, county, town, etc) would be in the text of the Person page. --Debbie V. 15:05, 21 May 2007 (MDT)
I'm going to jump in here with my 2 cents worth, which may be more than it's worth but seems to me, the simpler the better. You asked, "How much don't you like going with the "place, record type, year" format for records?" A whole lot! Since most folks start with the year, if you kept just 'year, Federal Census U.S.A.' you would need only 15 sources, one for each census year. Then when the year is selected, have a window where folks could put in 'State, County,(and twp if desired). This is how I have my PAF program set up and it is very handy. I can select the year, input the first location, copy it and paste it into subsequent entries. (PAF's ability to memorize a citation is also extremely handy!)--Janiejac 10:04, 7 June 2008 (EDT)

Additional thoughts on source page titles

There are some additional thoughts on source page titles on WeRelate talk:Sources that need to be moved over to this page.--Dallan 23:44, 9 May 2007 (MDT)

Here they are:

Source page titles [2 November 2008]

Standardize source titles as best we can. The goal is to help people quickly discover if a source exists in the system as they enter the name of the source.

  • For sources that have an author (e.g., books, letters, manuscripts), the Source page title is: author(s) (in traditional surname, given name(s) format), followed by the title (a description such as or "letter dated ..." can be substituted when there is no title). Sources in the following categories would often fall into this case:
  • For sources that don't have an author but have a well-known title, such as newspapers and periodicals, the Source page title is: the title of the source (e.g., "The New York Times"). Sources in the following categories would often fall into this case:
  • For record-set sources that don't have a well-known title or author but cover a specific place (e.g., most types of record sets), the Source page title is: place covered by the record set (from general to specific), followed by the type of record (e.g., census), followed by the year range if applicable. Sources in the following categories would often fall into this case:
  • For websites that contain original information that isn't just a transcription of another source, such as family history websites, message boards, etc., the Source page title is: the domain name of the website followed by enough of the URL to make the source title unique (e.g., if someone's family history website was on geocities.com, the source title should include the url up to the person's homepage on geocities). Sources in the following categories would often fall into this case:
  • The following types of sources should be moved to a new "Repository" namespace, and will be titled with the name of the repository or organization
  • The following types of sources should probably be removed:
  • What types of sources don't fall into one of the above categories and need a different standard for their Source page titles?

We should be able to rename all of the source page titles automatically.

A couple of thoughts in response --
An auxiliary goal is that people inputting sources not have to think too hard about what type they have, i.e. the types should be as intuitive as possible.
A significant fraction of town and area histories lack overall authorship.
I can't imagine a clear line between historical and current newspapers. Looking at the categories it seems that many in the historical category are excerpts of one kind or another, and might also be considered books since the excerpters are often identified by name.--Hh219 20:34, 8 May 2007 (MDT)
Yes, the historic newspapers are generally excerpts, and inasmuch as the excerpters are identified by name we could treat them like books - that would be nice. The current newspapers are in the source index primarily because they're starting points for the crawler to find obituaries. But they could be removed and stored outside of the index. Thinking about it, it's probably a good idea to remove them. Current newspapers don't seem all that useful outside of their obituaries, and they usually only keep a few days or weeks worth of obituaries.--Dallan 21:21, 9 May 2007 (MDT)

--Wrhelp 12:23, 10 May 2007 (MDT)

This page hasn't had recent activity. Have the conventions for Source page titles been standardized by now? With over 18,000 folks in my tree and many, many sources, it just blows me away to think of going back to categorize them before my tree is uploaded. But it would be easier done before the upload than after. If the conventions have been established now, I'd like to see an article telling about it. And I think it would be really helpful if the article gave examples of each category. --Janiejac 21:16, 6 January 2008 (EST)

I'd like an update as well. I'm back and trying to clean up at least the data that is most important to me (in my tree that is), and that includes cleaning up my use of sources. But before I spend much more time on this, I'd really like to read something that explains how best to do it and the formula to follow. Thanks! Jillaine 20:08, 2 November 2008 (EST)
The summary is here Help:Source_page_titles. Because this site is dynamic in structure; there is no absolute.--Beth 22:30, 2 November 2008 (EST)
I just updated the help page with the latest information for titling websites. Although the site is dynamic, the conventions for titling Source pages have stabilized in the past few months so you can feel safe following the conventions that you won't need to re-do your work.--Dallan 07:27, 5 November 2008 (EST)