Digitized FamilySearch microfilm not yet in a database

I have a question on citing the microfilm rolls that FamilySearch have been digitized, and you can access from the catalog, but they have not yet added waypoints or created a database for the content. This is the case with the Utah Supplemental Census Schedules, FHL microfilm 4,136,592. 

I want to cite more than the microfilm nubmer, because I viewed it online at FamilySearch, and I want to add the image numbers and URL.

How is this for a draft citation?

1870 U.S. census, Utah County, Utah, agricultural schedule, pages 5-6, line 16, Mary Hulet; Utah Supplemental Census Schedules, FHL microfilm 4,136,592, viewed on FamilySearch.org, images 445-446, (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6QLQ-HLL?cat=276583 : accessed 30 December 2015).

 This is something new FamilySearch is doing, so I don't think it is EE yet.


Submitted byEEon Wed, 12/30/2015 - 20:23

Angela, with no database yet to cite, you're in a state of limbo and whatever citation you create will be a temporary one. From that perspective, one critical issue would be citing it in a way that it can be easily associated with whatever database FamilySearch eventually creates. Normally, we take our identification from the title that is shown at the start of the film (which, in this case, is "Territory of Utah, Census, 1850, Libr. No. 17899"), rather than use the generic descriptor FHL's catalog uses for that roll of film. You have used the catalog generic descriptor ("Utah Supplemental Census Schedules"). However, given the type of material that it is, odds are good that FamilySearch will end up using that descriptor for its database, when one is created. So, your choice seems a good one here.

That issue aside, EE would do a bit of tweaking in the second layer of your citation. Ours would look like this:

1870 U.S. census, Utah County, Utah, agricultural schedule, pages 5-6, line 16, Mary Hulet;  imaged, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6QLQ-HLL?cat=276583 : accessed 30 December 2015), images 445–46 from FHL microfilm 4,136,592 ("Utah Supplemental Census Schedules").

The reasons for the tweaks are these:

  • For records imaged online, we cite the website that publishes the image and, in doing so, we follow the same format we use for all "standalone" publications—i.e., Author/creator (if known or needed), Title of Book or Website in Italics (Publication place : date), specific item/page/etc. In this case, the creator is FamilySearch (without the .org), but since the website is eponymous, we don't have to say FamilySearch twice. We simply cite the website's name: FamilySearch (which also does not use .org in its name).
  • The image numbers are the online equivalent of page numbers that you would cite for a book. Therefore, they would be expected to appear after the parenthetical publication data.
  • Following the specific location data, is where we would record our source-of-the-source data. Your source, FamilySearch, tells us that it is imaging FHL microfilm 4,136,592, but we have to go to the FHL catalog to get the identity or descriptor. For that reason, we might put the identification in parentheses after the film number. Above, we're also using quotation marks because we are copying that identification exactly.

Submitted byAngela McGhieon Sat, 01/02/2016 - 09:37


Thank you for correcting my citation and for the thorough explanation of the reasoning behind the tweaks. I appreciate the effort of FamilySearch to provide access to digitized records, even before they are completely procesed.


Submitted byBrian Gon Mon, 01/04/2016 - 02:14

This is a timely posting.  I've encounted unindexed records before on FamilySearch, but now I'm struggling with something I don't recall seeing before.

I want to cite a record that is part of the "Ohio, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1977" collection but isn't indexed yet.

I've discovered different results depending on the path I take through FamilySearch to the record.

1) Following a path from the collection

When I follow this path from the "Ohio, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1977" collection:

https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1987615 → Browse ... Images → Cuyahoga →Petitions for naturalization and petition evidence 1925-1926 vol 86, no 21151-21400

I end up at images of the original record "Naturalization Service, Petition and Record, No's 21151-21400" but the microfilm header has been omitted and there's no citation to the FHL microfilm that provided the images.

I may be missing something, but I don't think I can make a direct connection between the collection and the FHL microfilm because FamilySearch doesn't provide the necessary information.

(I also noticed that the image number for the record I wanted to cite was 171 from these images but 174 from the complete set of images from the microfilm!)

2) Following a path from the FamilySearch catalog

If I follow this path from the "Ohio, county naturalization records, 1800-1977" catalog entry:

http://familysearch.org/search/catalog/1987615Petition and record, 1906-1931 / Ohio. Court of Common Pleas (Cuyahoga County) → Records, v. 86 (21151-21400) Oct 1925-Jan 1926

I end up at http://familysearch.org/search/film/005492537?cat=550064 which has the images of that same original record except this time the microfilm header *is* included.  The actual record I wanted to cite is image 174.

(I wish FamilySearch would *always* include the complete set of images from the underlying microfilms, including the header!)

I ultimately decided it was reasonable to associate the collection and the microfilm and I created this citation:

Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas, "Naturalization Service, Petition and Record, Vol. 86, [petition] No's 21151 to 21400," Nick Gardikiotis declaration of intention, no. 42941 (9 Feb. 1923), District Court of the Northern District of Ohio, attached to Cuyahoga County petition no. 21200; digital image, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/search/film/005492537?cat=55064 → image 174 : viewed 4 Jan. 2016); imaged  from Family History Library (FHL) microfilm 1,853,133.  (This record should be part of the "Ohio, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1977" collection but is not yet indexed in that collection.)

Notice that I'm also trying to cite a *federal* declaration of intention that's contained in a *county* record. :-b

I tried to use " → image 174" as a way to avoid the long URL to the image itself.  Does that approach seem clear?  (The petition number also allows that declaration of intention to be found.)  Is my paranthetical statement reasonable?


Submitted byEEon Mon, 01/04/2016 - 20:23

In reply to by Brian G

Brian, you've done an excellent job of working through the issues. The one point on which EE would differ is the attachment of a symbol and words to the URL—a format that breaks the standard citation pattern and would puzzle some individuals who might assume it to be part of the URL. Let's consider the basic citation pattern, as it applies to your FamilySearch layer.

The most basic format for citing a published work is

Author [if known], Title of Publication (Place of publication : date), specific page.

The corresponding format for citing a website would be

Creator [if needed], Title of Website (URL as place of publication : date), specific item.

Following this pattern, EE would use the following arrangement of your data (after omitting the name of the creator because it is the same as the title of the website):

... FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/search/film/005492537?cat=55064 : viewed 4 Jan. 2016), image 174; imaged  from...






Submitted byEmilyon Sat, 01/25/2020 - 19:37

I would like to know how best to cite images of deeds on FamilySearch that are restricted to viewing at the Family History Library, a Family History Center, or an Affiliate Library. Are these considered unpublished images of unpublished sources, since viewing the images is limited? If so, would this be a correct way to cite such images?

Posey County, Indiana, Deed Records A:396; County Recorder, Mt. Vernon, Ind.; restricted images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 18 January 2018), citing FHL microfilm 1428931 ("Deed records, v. A-C Jan. 1815-Dec. 1820"), item 1. 

I am uncertain about whether I need to include the creator of the original record (the County Recorder), the complete URL of the image (since that can change), the image number on the roll, the name of the collection ("Deed records, 1815-1902 ; partition records, 1872-1962 ; index to grantors and grantees, 1816-1908"), the range of years on volume A, and if a path to the image would be preferable.  I'm also not sure about the order of these possible citation components.  I would not consider these images a database since they are not transcribed or searchable.  

Thanks for your advice.

I'm not EE, but I would not consider the restricted viewing to effect whether something is considered published or unpublished, etc. After all, there are many published items in libraries...in special manuscript collections, etc. that are restricted to viewing in person but they are still either published or unpublished depending on what they are, not where they are at.


As for the rest...I'm struggling with something similar...Indiana records that are browseable only and whether to list the collection name.


For your citation, I might do this:

Posey County, Indiana, Deed Records, vol. A, p. 396; browseable images, "Deed records, 1815-1902 ; partition records, 1872-1962 ; index to grantors and grantees, 1816-1908," _FamilySearch_ (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/419651 : accessed 18 Jan. 2018); imaged from FHL microfilm 1428931.


To include the year range for vol. A, which presumably you looked at when viewing the images; you could do:  ... Deed Records, vol. A (1815-1817), p. 396 ...


I was trying to figure out how to incorporate the image number. It seems to me it would belong in layer 2, but the problem is if you do this: ... accessed 18 Jan. 2018) > image x of y; then there is no reference at that point to which film/dgs you are referring to.  So I guess you would do this: ... accessed 18 Jan. 2018) > film 1428931 > image x of y.  Then the question is: do you really need the 3rd layer which repeats the film number you've already given in the 2nd layer?


So, all in all, I'm curious about how best to handle this situation also!


My dilemma is this:


Greene County, Indiana, Marriage Records, vol. O, p. 185, Adamson-Sparks, 13 Feb. 1895; browseable images, "Marriage Records, 1821-1957," _FamilySearch_ (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/12949 : accessed 07 Jan. 2020) > film 1317808 > image 440 of 646.


I've spent a few more minutes reviewing the discussion above and one thing I'm confused about actually is why the Utah example is 2 layers and the Cuyahoga example is 3 layers?  Both examples reference the physical/original document, an image layer (FamilySearch) and both reference the microfilm number. Yet one is 2 layers and one is 3 layers?