Online Image Databases and FTM family tree maker 2014

Ok, so I've looked around a bit and did some searches and didn't come up with a satisfactory answer or workaround, so I'll try here.

My EE is getting tattered and so are my nerves with FTM.

Here is the image I'm citing:,353350502,353355801

The citation with the image is:

"Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001," images, FamilySearch (,353350502,353355801 : accessed 13 May 2015), Norfolk > Dedham > Births, marriages, deaths 1635-1853 > image 179 of 763; town clerk offices, Massachusetts. 


Which does not conform to EE, however is very explicit in how to find the image.

EE Qcheck LR VR Register, 12.14 and 9.6 would say use the following:
Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, "Town Records 1635-1777," unpaginated, 179th page, Eunice Arnold, 09 May 1754; digital images, FamilySearch, Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001 (,353350502,353355801 : accessed 13 May 2015)

I've tried Vital Records Register (Local Record), generic database and several other ways to get FTM to format this cite correctly with no luck.

It always appends the source repository on the end, and I'm not creating source repositories for EVERY image and access date, that would be crazy.

The only way to get this to work is use VRRegister (local record), don't put in a source repository and put the following in the citation detail:

unpaginated, 179th page, Eunice Arnold 09 May 1754; digital images, FamilySearch, Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001 (,353350502,353355801 : accessed 13 May 2015)

That almost gets me there, but here is the result:

Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, "Town Records 1635-1777", unpaginated, 179th page, Eunice Arnold 09 May 1754; digital images, FamilySearch, Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001 (,353350502,353355801 : accessed 13 May 2015).

It puts the comma outside the " on the original record name next to unpaginated.

Does anyone else have an idea on how to make these digital image citations better/easier to handle in FTM? 

Thanks for the help!

Submitted byfoodclubon Tue, 05/12/2015 - 23:58

So, in stopping to think this through again, maybe I should treat the online image as a Digital Archive per 3.16 and quickcheck model: ARCHIVED MATERIAL: DIGITAL ARCHIVES

The result would be:

"Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001," FamilySearch, FamilySearch,(,353350502,353355801 : accessed 13 May 2015), images, "Norfolk > Dedham > Births, marriages, deaths 1635-1853," image 179 of 763; town clerk offices, Massachusetts.

Would this be more correct and follow EE?

I think I could figure out how to get this to work with FTM.

Hello Foodclub,

I use FTM but do not use the template feature to create my citations. I use the genetic form and lump my source titles. My title would be Massachusetts BMD's. This title is removed from the actual source print out by removing it from the reference note box in the source section of FTM. This is also where I italicize the appropriate text.

My citation would be written as follows and placed in the citation detail box.

Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, births, marriages & deaths, register, 1635-1777,  unpaginated, death entry Eunice Arnold, 9 May 1754; "Massachusetts, Town Clerk Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001," digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 May 2015); digital images from FHL microfilm 593,353.

This citation emphasis the actual register and not the database. The film number came from going back to the first image of the database. If I had used the film instead of the digital image my citation would be:

Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, births, marriages & deaths, register, 1635-1777,  unpaginated, death entry Eunice Arnold, 9 May 1754; FHL microfilm 593,353.

This allows me to keep my citations from FamilySearch and the Family History Library consistent. It also means I don't have to spend endless hours trying to make FTM do something it was not set up to do and gives me complete control over what my citations look like.

In FTM the next thing I do is to create a tinyurl. This tinyurl would be added to the web address box on the generic citation page. This allows me to go right to the image if need be but if the link changes I can still find it from my original citation. I might add the image number to the citation to make it easier to find. But I would not include all of the path information on a FamilySearch citation. The reason being the path information is in the actual citation.


Submitted byEEon Wed, 05/13/2015 - 08:45


You've raised several points that we can discuss, but it may be a couple of days before I can work through them with you. I'm off at a conference, without a spare hour or so in sight. 

Until then ...


Submitted byEEon Sun, 05/17/2015 - 18:12

Foodclub wrote:

>Which does not conform to EE, however is very explicit in how to find the image. EE Qcheck LR VR Register, 12.14 and 9.6 would say use the following:

Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, "Town Records 1635-1777," unpaginated, 179th page, Eunice Arnold, 09 May 1754; digital images, FamilySearch, Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001 (,353350502,353355801 : accessed 13 May 2015)

First, our apologies for not responding promptly while we were off conferencing. Thanks to agilchrist, you've had good advice in the meanwhile. We should add a couple of comments just to clarify for other readers:

EE is not as restrictive as you propose. The manual offers varied examples that demonstrate both ways of citing an image at FamilySearch: by both the exact URL and the path. Sometimes, one is the better approach; sometimes the other is. The options—and the considerations that effect our choice—are first discussed at EE2.37 (in the Fundamentals of Citation chapter). 

However, EE would definitely not recommend that anyone sit down and count through 179 unpaginated pages to create a citation. Aside from the time expenditure, the odds of making an error in the count is great. When unpaginated registers present entries in chronological order, the common approach is to say something such as "unpaginated entries arranged chronologically."  You'll find this illustrated at, say, 8.24, 10.26, and 10.38–39.  A variety of examples for unpaginated entries can be found at 9.29.

I'm a bit unclear as to what you are referencing as "Qcheck LR VR Register, 12.14 and 9.6" because neither of those are QuickCheck Models, but you will find five QuickCheck Models demonstrating how to handle unpaginated registers at pages 173, 243, 314, 319, and 489.


Submitted byfoodclubon Sun, 05/17/2015 - 20:20

In reply to by EE

Thanks for the response.

You don't have to count through the pages to get to 179.  The controls on the database allow you to enter "179" and it will take you to the page.  Click on the link and you will see what I mean.  The database knows the total number of images and gives you the image your are on, 179, and allows you to directly enter the page.  I would think, given you have the information, that you would cite, image 179.  The DOCUMENT is unpaginated, but the IMAGES ARE numbered.  Click on the link and go there yourself.  I would assume also, just like with FHL films, you know the ITEM NUMBER and apend it to the end, if you know the image number, that should be included.

QuickCheck model Local Records Vital-Records Register is the quick check model I was referring to, with an understanding and applicaiton of 12.14 and 9.6 is what I mean to say.  Sorry, was going to fast.  My apologies.



I think what misled me was in your citation you wrote "unpaginated, 179th page," to me this ment the 179th page and not the 179th image.




You've just raised another good point. It's best, in citing online materials, to observe the distinction between "image" number and "page" number. In the register to which you've linked, page 1 actually appears on image 6--in which case image 179 is likely to be page 174. Even so, it would not be wise to assert that because pages are sometimes imaged twice and sometimes pages are skipped.

The same correlary, of course, also exists with microfilm when we cite not only the item number (which you wisely invoke) but also a frame number.



Submitted bydsliesseon Sun, 05/17/2015 - 18:58

I'm at home right now and my copy of EE is at the office so maybe I'm remembering something incorrectly, but isn't one of the first things the book says "always use the citation format provided by the source repository" (or similar words)?  If so, then by default the citation provided by the source is in EE format.

I'll readily agree that FTM is a pain in the kazoo when it comes to formatting citations (and they claim the templates are based on EE!).  I need to do a serious review of my own practices before I'm going to make any suggestions on this particular forum (though I've taught "Citing Your Sources in FTM" in my local FTM users group).


Foobclub, I know those aren't the exact words, but the message is in there somewhere.  I'm giving a tax presentation tomorrow night that I need to finish up so might not have time to look until Tuesday.

Submitted byagilchreston Sun, 05/17/2015 - 20:10


I tried to use FTM's templates but ended up getting very frustrated. Several years ago I decided to do what you are proposing for yourself, figure out what works for you. By using FTM's templates I had over 2000 source titles. This did not work for me. As I became more accustomed to EE a light bulb went off, so to speak. If I write out my citations instead of using the templates I would gain a better understanding of the process. Now I can write out a census citation in less time than it takes to fill in a template. Something about practice makes perfect comes to mind!

What worked for me, for the bulk of my citations, was to create generic source titles for example for Minnesota I have the following source titles, Minnesota BMD's; Minnesota Catholic Church Records; Minnesota Cemeteries; Minnesota Land Records and Minnesota Newspapers. I also have source titles called U. S. Military Records; U. K. Military Records. U. S. Land Records. Once I add the citation I delete the "title" from the reference note box.

The only citations that I don't delete the title are for census records. My titles for these are 1790 U. S. census; 1842 census of Canada West; or 1865 Minnesota State census. The only edits I have to do to these are to italicize the website I used.

This system works for me. It may not work for you.


Submitted bydsliesseon Mon, 05/18/2015 - 00:10

In reply to by agilchrest

Ann, I agree that ultimately it's a matter of "to each his (or her) own."  We need to cover all the necessary details, of course, and it would be nice to be at least close to a standardized format, but in the end it's whatever works for each of us (or for the publishers, for the few who actually write for publication).  Elizabeth will tell us I've over-simplified that, but I hope we all understand what I'm trying to say!


Dave and FoodClub,

I suspect that the passage Dave is remembering is EE3.2—amid the introductory comments to the chapter "Archives & Artifacts."

3.2 Archival Style Guides

Because each archive has its own preferences for citing its materials, you should ask each facility whether it has a citation guide it would like you to follow. If you choose to use each facility's recommended style, you can expect to have considerable inconsistencies within your citations. If you prefer to use a consistent style, you will still benefit by studying the format recommended by the archive whose material you have used. From it, you will learn which pieces of information the archive needs you to cite in order to relocate the material.

Dave also wrote:

I'm at home right now and my copy of EE is at the office so maybe I'm remembering something incorrectly, but isn't one of the first things the book says "always use the citation format provided by the source repository" (or similar words)?  If so, then by default the citation provided by the source is in EE format.

Dave, note particularly the second sentence of 3.2, about the "inconsistencies" that would result if every citation we make to a different archives were to follow the suggestion of that particular archives. Because of that, each time EE introduces a record from a new archive or a new website, it does not just copy whatever that archive or website suggests. EE presents a consistent format that is usable regardless of the archive or the website. 

The bottom line (and the principle upon which Evidence Style is built) is this: Differences in format may exist because of differences in the nature of the records being cited--but a sound format for that type of record should be usable regardless of the archive or website where the record was found.

Thanks for this reply.  I completely forgot I promised to look through the book but then I was totally slammed yesterday, anyway (as today, once I get through email and important Facebook posts -- normal day-start sequence!).  Anyway, those were exactly the sections I was pseudo-remembering.



Submitted byrworthingtonon Mon, 05/18/2015 - 09:46


Sorry I didn't see this earlier.

Here is my Reference Note, in FTM2014, based on the link to that image:

Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, death entry for Eunice Arnold 9 May 1754; citing Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001 ; image 179 of 763; digital images,, ( : accessed 18 May 2015).

That is from FTM2014, using the Online (Property & Probate, Image Copy) Template. That might not be your first template to use, BUT I knew that was the template to get me the right Questions to Answer.

Two comments: as The Editor has mentioned a number of times, (1) the URL is at the Website Level, BUT (2) the full URL is in the Web address field on the Citation Screen.

With hopes, that the Editor comments on my attempt at a Reference Note from FTM2014.


Submitted byfoodclubon Mon, 05/18/2015 - 10:05

In reply to by rworthington

I was close to using this, but had a couple problems with it.

  1. The series is missing.  It has juristiction and item of interest, but no series.  I think you are missing 'Town Records 1635-1777.'
  2. The citing doesn't make sense to me.  When you use citing, it means that the precurser element is referring to the final element.  In this case, the Town Records do not cite the FHL film...that is what you have in your citation...Dedham citing Mass, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001.  The underlined is the name of the FHL database/images.  If you use citing, it should be the other way around...Mass, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001 citing Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts Town Records 1635-1777.  This is correct, the 1627-2001 database is citing the actual Norfolk County, MA Town records book dated 1635-1777.

Unless I'm not understanding correctly.  :)

In addition to Dave's problems I have several more. The punctuation seems incorrect to me. The title of the database is not in quotes. A coma should be placed before the closing quote and not a semicolon hanging in mid air.

image 179 of 763 followed by digital images seems redundant as does repeated.

When I look at the website the title is FamilySearch and not


Foodclub, your understanding of "citing" is corect. When we use the term, it means that what we have just identified is citing XYZ as its source. Practically speaking:

  • If what we have just cited does not cite anything else, then we don't say that our source cites something else. (If we are citing an original record book, then--by definition--that original won't/can't be citing anything else.)
  • If we are using an image copy of an original record book, then in our second layer of the citation--the one in which we identify the media that provided the image--we replace that word "citing" with "digital image," "microfilmed as" or whatever descriptive phrase fits the situation.
  • If the provider of the image cites its own source (as in the case at hand), then we end up with three layers. The last layer is the source-of-the-source and it is appropriately introduced by "citing."

In Russ's example,our tweaks would include switching the position of layers 2 and 3.

All things considered, an EE citation to the source you first inquired about would be this:

Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, "Town Records 1635-1777," unpaginated entries in chronological order, Eunice Arnold, 9 May 1754; digital images, "Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001," database with images, FamilySearch (,353350502,353355801 : accessed 13 May 2015); citing "town clerk offices, Massachusetts."

This differs from your and Russ's suggestions on several points:

First layer:

  • The "unpaginated 179th page" reference is replaced.

Second layer:

  • The title for the database is put in quotation marks, as commonplace for titles of items that are a part of a bigger published item (e.g., articles in journals, chapters in books, databases at websites, etc.).
  • The name FamilySearch is moved from the creator position to the website title position. Once we've identified an online database, we need to identify the website at which the database appears. The title of that website is italicized, just as we do for any standalone publication (book, journal, website, film, etc.)
  • As Ann points out (EE does also) when a website's name is the name of the firm that created it, we don't have to repeat the name in both places.
  • If we choose to use the name of the corporate creator, then (in this case) we'd have to use "FamilySearch International"--the legal name of the corporation--rather than just FamilySearch.
  • The title of the website differs from that of the corporation. It is only FamilySearch.  While many people (as Russ did) use as the website title, the actual title does not include .com. (The confusion apparently exists because Ancestry long used .com as part of its website title; but FamilySearch does not. That confusion should be helped, now, by the fact that Ancestry has dropped the .com from its title.)

Third layer:

  • This is where the "citing ...." clause is placed. We've just identified, in the second layer, the provider that supplied the image. Now, here in the third layer, we're reporting the provider's own identification of the source--in quotation marks to indicate that we are quoting the provider exactly.

Incidentally, FamilySearch offers the following suggestion for a citation to this page:

"Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001," images, FamilySearch (,353350502,353355801 : accessed 20 May 2015), Norfolk > Dedham > Births, marriages, deaths 1635-1853 > image 179 of 763; town clerk offices, Massachusetts.

It differs for several reasons:

  • It places its emphasis on FamilySearch's own database, rather than the original record.
  • It does not, at all, identify the original record book or its creator (although EE would argue that it should).
  • It uses a long URL that it now characterizes as a "stable URL" but also adds a path (aka breadcrumbs) by which one can relocate that page in the event that someone copying the long URL accidentally adds or deletes a character. 

I am a little confused about where "Town Records 1635-1777"  came from. When I look at image number 5, I see "Births Marriages Deaths 1635-1777." Image 6 is page one of the actual entries. Wouldn't "Births Marriages Deaths 1635-1777" be the title of the actual register?  Or am I missing something?

By the way thanks for all the examples using "unpaginated" that has really helped me with some other citations.


Well, because I know something you don't, and I violated evey rule of evidence explained.

Actually I ordered the film and reviewed it a couple of days before the images became available online. The first image of the book on the film is one of the bound volume cover and it says "Town Records 1635-1777." Stamped in gold ink.

Even though it wasn't included in the online images, I figured that since the initial title was the name of the volume, and I knew what the name actually was, I used it.

Right wrong or indifferent.

Good catch.

Thank you for making me laugh. I really needed that today!

This begs the question. If you only look at the digital images should you use the register title "Births Marriages Deaths 1635-1777" and by contrast if you use the actual microfilm the title becomes something like "Town Records 1635-1777," section "Births Marriages Deaths 1635-1777"


Dear Editor,

Sorry, I have been off line for a couple of days.

I was something in your post that I hadn't recognized before, and I think that ir really makes sense to me. Citing vs digital image. 

I'll go back and review what I had rushed to post and clean up what I had done using the FTM2014 Templage Feature.

Thank you,


Submitted byfoodclubon Wed, 05/20/2015 - 15:54

If you only look at digital images, you don't know it is "town records 1635-1777," so you couldn't use it.

If you use the film, there is no "Births, Marriages, Deaths" section! There are only listings of births, marriages and deaths in the Town records book.

Since you used both the microfilm and the digital images could you have put "Town Records 1635-1777" in editorial brackets with a note that the tile came from the microfilm?  Or would you need two citations?



I don't know.  This EE is a bit more art than science for my VERY left-brained self.

I would, personally, choose one or the other.  The image is the same image.  The reason I went to the DB vs. the film is that in the future, I believe it will be much easier to access the online DB vs. ordering the film.  

So, if I give the FHL my ancestry and they don't accept images for which I don't have permission, it will be order of magnitude quicker for someone to cut and paste a URL to see the image than having to order the film.

YMMV.  :p

I don't know if this is right or left-brained! But...

When I sat down and looked at how to deal with all my digital images, citations and what not, I looked at how the Family History Library catalogues their collections. In the not so old days you would go to the FHL catalogue and see what films were available for a specific location. You would look at films that might have the person you were looking for in a specific location. If you found them your citation was pretty simple and straight forward. Those citations would tell you which microfilm the information was on but in my mind more importantly they also told you where you could find the actual hard copy. In a court house or archives for example.

When FamilySearch loads images before they are indexed, they are set up just like the catalogue of old. With the films, once you found your film number you would retrieve your film load it on a reader and start looking for your target person. With the digital images first you find your location, state, county, city then you start looking at the images one by one as if you where cranking the microfilm.

It made sense to me that my citations for FamilySearch's digital images should follow the same basic format as citing the microfilm, putting the focus on what I was looking at instead of the database. In my mind the database is akin to the microfilm number. This does several things for me, it means that I really don't need the exact URL why because the citation tells me exactly where to find the record. By following the standard FHL microfilm format FamilySearch can change the name of the database the URL or anything else and I can still find the record. I can even find the hard copy if I want to.

Yes, it makes it easier and a lot less time to click a link, but as we all know those links are not permanent. In 100 years I want someone to be able to find my reference in the real world if possible.

Ok, maybe there won't be a need for the real world but a girl can dream!


Ann, you make a cogent article for citing the record, rather than the database. Let's see if it's now followed by a counter-argument by someone who prefers to emphasize the database that holds the image ...

I believe that everything, in the very short term future, will become digital and only be available digitally.  The cost of allowing people access to original records, both in wages and in deterioration to the original records is becoming too high.

One example is the revolutionary war pensions.  As late as about 1974, you could still go to the National Archives, get the pension files and make copies of the originals.  Now, you can only get a film, or get it online with something like FOLD3.

I believe that FamilySearch is doing the same thing by making the films available online.  It reduces their distribution costs (sending films across the country) and maintenance costs (replacing worn out microfilms) and allows them to make money by selling the databases and images to sites such as

My library searches have been reduced dramatically by  I don't have to go the the FHL or the Library of Congress to get holdings that are few and far between (i.e. the books are not available locally).

I believe you will see it harder to find the original records in their original format.  As a result, you may have the right pointer to the source information, but the source is no longer available in that format.

My $.02.


While I agree that access to original records in a digital format is becoming easier and more cost effective for records in high demand like the revolutionary war pensions I don't think it is cost effective for records in low demand. I don't see a time in the short term when 'everything' will become digital. The amount of data stored in archives and court houses is just too large. Even today in archives where microfilm or digital is the preferred method of viewing certain material, you can request to view the original especially if there is a problem with the filmed or digital copy. I was able to do this a few years ago at the Kentucky State Archives.

In 2007 I took a trip to Poland to research in the Catholic church archives in Wrocław. Most, but not all of the registers stored there are on microfilm in the Family History Library. However, this archive didn't even have a microfilm reader. Nor was there a computerized catalogue, you had to use a single book that gave you a listing of locations followed by a series of signature numbers with a specific year range. When you wanted to view a register you requested it by the location and 'signature number' then the nuns would bring the real world book to you. Some of these records are from the 1500's. On this same trip I found several registers still located in the local churches that never made it to the archives. None of these registers have been microfilmed. In one of them I found a marriage record that was a lynch pin for a case study I was working on at the time. Could the Catholic church digitize there vast collection? Sure, but I would be willing to bet that the cost of doing this would be prohibitive.

While a great many records are being digitized, the databases themselves still have to be catalogued so researchers can find them. I don't believe that the basic format of cataloguing will change. By this I mean you will still need to locate what various databases are avialable by a specific location. By placing my focus on the record which by default emphasizes the location I and future researchers will always be able to find a specific record in both the digital world and the real world regardless of what a database is called. You may have to drill down in a catalogue but you will be able to find the record.


Foodclub, historical researchers—probably more than any other type—have cause to wish we lived in a perfect world in which no one could create a title unless they followed one prescripted format.  As it stands, it seems like the Devil's Imps work overtime tempting people to use all sorts of ways to confuse us.

Submitted byEEon Wed, 05/20/2015 - 16:52

Ann, in responding to Foodclub's inquiry about how he should format the citation, I used the details provided by Foodclub.