Find A Grave

I've often wondered if I am citing images from Find A Grave correctly. Here is an example:, database and images ( : accessed 14 March 2011), entry for Claudia J. Esselstyn (1861 - 1862), Find A Grave Memorial #7,407,189, Aztalan Cemetery, Milford, Jefferson, Wisconsin. 



  1. Should be in italics?
  2. Should the "creator" and/or the photographer be recognized?
  3. Are there any other adjustments that would be recommended?

Submitted byEEon Fri, 06/22/2012 - 17:11


You've done a very good job of grasping the issues at EE 5.16's model for citing online sources of grave-marker data. To answer your specific questions:

1. Find A Grave is the name of the organization that created the site. Find A Grave is the title of the website. Yes, the title should be italicized, just as we do for books, journals, and other similar publications. Because the site title is self-identifying and well known, we do not have to repeat that identifier in both the author and title fields of our citation.

2. If the photographer or contributor is identified, then Yes, we would typically include that person (and his/her contact information, if available) in our working citation. Whether that information is retained at publication time will depend upon editorial or publishing policy and, occasionally, some other considerations. In the case of your example, the creator of the page and contributor of the data is pseudonymous and identified as inactive, with no contact info. The photographs are contributed by two different individuals, one of whom is identified solely by first name. For the tombstone itself, the images are virtually unreadable. (You do know how to pick a doozy of an example!)

3. For sites that offer both a database and images, when we cite a specific item it is best to indicate whether we are referring to the image or to the database entry.

All points considered, EE's version of your citation might be this:

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 14 March 2011), memorial page for Claudia J. Esselstyn (18611862), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7,487,109, citing Aztalan Cemetery, Milford, Jefferson County, Wisconsin; the accompanying photographs by Mike [--?--] and Kari Waterbury are materially informative, but do not provide a legible image of the inscribed data.

Submitted bystevedon Fri, 06/22/2012 - 21:15

In reply to by EE

As always, I appreciate the guidance. The forum is a wonderful place to hash these topics out. Best wishes.

Submitted byHiztorybuffon Sun, 06/24/2012 - 16:28

In reply to by EE

I've realized that my citations have been lacking and have been correcting them as I go. I have been trying to figure out citations for Find A Grave, too, so this discussion was very timely. My additional question has to do with the family links that are included in some memorial pages. How does one include or cite that information? Using your example above, let's say that Claudia's memorial page shows a link to her father, John Doe (1841-1893); would that information be included in Claudia's citation? 

Thank you.


Submitted byLdbenneyon Thu, 09/06/2012 - 19:56

In reply to by EE

Great information.  Can you please provide an example where the contributor of the memorial page and the image are two different people (which is typically the case)?

See the following example:

Ldbenney, there's a basic pattern for every kind of citation that kicks in here. When we have something to identify, we identify the creator, then the item.

  • If it's a book: we cite the author, then the title.
  • If it's a manuscript: we cite the author, then the title (or an ID of our own creation, if it is an untitled manuscript).
  • If it's a photograph: we cite the creator, then the ID of the photograph.
  • If it's a website: we cite the author/creator, then the title.
  • If it's an individual article or item at a website: we cite the website, then the creator and ID of the individual item.

At Find A Grave, as you've noted, we have varying levels of creators/items to identify—i.e.,

  • the Find A Grave website (for which you already have a model);
  • the creator of the memorial page, then that page's ID;
  • the creator of the photograph, then that photograph's ID;
  • any comments that are needed to clarify or evaluate the source.

To create the whole, we string these items together in the order above: the website, the specific page, the specific item on the page. Punctuation wise, we follow the standard rule for any type of writing: when items in a series have internal commas, we use semi-colons to separate those  items.


OK...  I have another toughie here.  On FindAGrave memorial #26451841 for Col. Henry L. Morris, there are photographs of two newspaper clippings which together comprise the published obituary, in 1896, for said Col. Morris.  I cannot find a digitized copy of the obit online, so I stitched the two pieces together digitally to make a single file.  With the permission of the supplier of the photographs of the clippings, I want to include this as an exhibit for a client.  So here is the cumbersome citation I put together from the suggestions above:

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 31 December 2020), memorial page for “Col Henry L. Morris” (1842–1896), Find A Grave Memorial no. 26451841, citing Byrd Cemetery, Timmonsville, Florence County, South Carolina, copyright “kevin and andrea” (provided they have not relinquished); Kim Cox, “Henry L. Morris Dead,” image of obituary in unnamed paper (possibly The Ocala [Florida] Evening Star), no date; two separate photographs of newspaper clipping digitally stitched together by author with permission of the owner.

Does this include everything that needs to be included?  I have the website, the memorial, the cemetery, the copyright info, the owner of the photos, the information I have on the newspaper, and an explanation of the manipulation of the images with the permission of the owner.  Do I need anything else?  Is this too much?  HELP!

Submitted byLdbenneyon Thu, 09/06/2012 - 20:07

In reply to by EE

Also, is there any special treatment required for markers with multiple parties present?

See following example:

Submitted bykmccracken1951on Mon, 11/12/2012 - 14:57

In reply to by EE

Very helpful. I had been treating the memorial pages as individual "articles" on a website, so leading off with the creator of the memorial and its title, which didn't seem quite right somehow... for some reason it didn't occur to me that Find A Grave is simply a single-database website, and each memorial is a record in that database. This makes a lot more sense. Thanks for the insight!


Submitted byEnlightened Bo…on Mon, 11/12/2012 - 19:27

In reply to by EE

I can't believe it! I was just reading this forum this morning, and now I'm already faced with constructing a citation for Find A Grave! Thanks for the help!

Submitted bymdamon5210on Thu, 08/01/2013 - 17:32

In reply to by EE

Just starting to use Evidence Explained (2nd Edition). So I’m a little confused as to exactly what the citation below is referring to.

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 14 March 2011), memorial page for Claudia J. Esselstyn (1861–1862), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7,487,109, citing Aztalan Cemetery, Milford, Jefferson County, Wisconsin; the accompanying photographs by Mike [--?--] and Kari Waterbury are materially informative, but do not provide a legible image of the inscribed data.

Is it referring to the burial place, the grave marker, or can it be used for any other bit of information (such as birth and death dates, especially if complete dates are given in the text and not on the marker). I think the confusion comes when the comment is made about the photographs being illegible. If we are citing the cemetery (i.e. burial site), what is the relevance of the legibility of the marker? EE 5.16 refers to Grave Marker Images, yet the above citations states that we are “citing Aztalan Cemetery.”

It’s also probably worth noting that I am not planning on using the citations in a narrative format, but trying to conform them to genealogy software (FTM). So perhaps I’m coming at this with the wrong mindset. I’m thinking more of a line item citation (burial place, tombstone photo, etc…).

Mike, you ask: "Is it referring to the burial place, the grave marker, or can it be used for any other bit of information ..."   Before I can answer your question, I need to make sure I understand what your word "it" refers to. I'm assuming, from your comment about software fields, that you mean the field in which there appears the phrase "citing Aztalan Cemetery, Milford, Jefferson County, Wisconsin."

Because different software constructs templates in different ways, EE doesn't offer advice on what to put in a certain field in specific software.  However, the phrase "citing ...." represents a citation element that we call "credit line"—that is, the place where we give credit to whatever our source identifies as its source. (See, for example, the QuickCheck Model on p. 211, at the start of the cemetery chapter, where each element typical to various types of cemetery citations is labeled).

The readability issue is significant because it speaks to the reliability of the source we are citing. In the example at EE 5.16 we have a totally readable image of a stone and we are taking our own information from that image itself. In the Find A Grave example, we have a picture of the stone on which nothing at all is readable. We are taking our information, instead, from the memorial page that the Waterburys created. While the Waterburys may have, indeed, correctly interpreted every bit of carving on the stone, we—as researchers—can't attest that accuracy without viewing the stone itself. Until and unless that happens, we cite the memorial page and then use the "credit" field to say what our source gives as its own source.


Submitted byEEon Sun, 06/24/2012 - 20:00

Hiztorybuff, that link and its identification could be added on to the citation in a statement similar to the one that is added onto Steve's example.

The basic principle here is this: Once we have captured the essential data for a citation, we are free to add anything else that would better explain our source or further our research.

While I certainly can't disagree with the Editor on this one, I wonder what the purpose of the citation actually is. In the end, we are telling a story, either in report form or analysis, and the reference should be to point out where we found the information, not to tell the entire story. So I would suggest that if it is important, the information deserves to be in the body, not the footnote.

Also, while there are links to relatives contained on ome memorial pages, I would click on the link and develop a reference for the resulting page (and individual). I have been confused in my own writing when I tried to combine pages. Seems like each one deserves their own recognition.

Submitted bygenealogyladyon Mon, 11/12/2012 - 13:32

As I am new to EE, I am very thankful for this discussion. I have not been as diligent as I thought I was in sourcing my Find A Grave photographs.  Looks like I have a lot of work to redo. :)

Submitted bychmcgeeon Thu, 11/29/2012 - 21:22

For the last couple of years I have been using the Find A Grave citation given at footnoteMaven ( It seems that in 2009 a blog discussion, which included ESM, came up with the following "consensus" on the proper citation for a digital image at Find A Grave:

  1. Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image ( : accessed 21 October 2009), photograph, “gravestone for Mary Nancy McCaskill Massey (1881–1974), Memorial No. 15616487 [no commas], Records of the Llano Cemetery, Amarillo, Texas;” photograph © Walter Dunn.

Does this still hold true, or is it overly complicated? It does seem redundant to list Find A Grave as the author and title of the website, and I've always been a little confused by the use of the quotes in the body of the information. Furthermore, the citation already states it's a digital image, so why would it have to mention "photograph" shortly afterward? And, now that I look at it, is it really the "Records" of the Llano Cemetery?

I've been using this citation almost as a reflex to a Find A Grave record. The website makes a very good argument for the citation, but now I'm reconsidering.

Submitted byEEon Fri, 11/30/2012 - 09:50


The first sentence of the first paragraph of EE's "Fundamentals of Citation" chapter is this: Citation is an art, not a science. That principle applies in this case—and every case. FootnoteMaven's suggested format is her interpretation of our discussion and, by nature, it reflects the way her own thoughts lean. EE respects that.

You, now, are analyzing her model in light of your own experiences and evaluating its adaptability to other Find A Grave pages you are using. That is good. As you can see from comparing EE's response to Steve above, with EE's models in the "Cemetery Records" chapter, individual situations present their own peculiar circumstances that call for adaptations and explanations.

In answer to your specific questions:

Redundancy? With the digital copy of EE at hand, running a search for the word "redundant" will yield a variety of examples that will help you to clarify the point personally. (EE 14.21 is particularly applicable.)

Quotation marks? Yes, these should go around words we are quoting. If a string of words do not represent a quote, we don't use quotation marks as a rule. (Yes, there's the so-called sense in which quote marks are used; but that's a different issue.)

Photograph vs. image? EE does recommend the use of the descriptor "photograph" when it is applicable (as with EE's QuickCheck Model on p. 215), for clarity. When dealing with cemetery records, an "image" collection could offer images of maps, card files, or other items.



Submitted bychmcgeeon Mon, 12/03/2012 - 17:21

Thank you for the wealth of information (as usual). I love the search capability of the .pdf version of EE. And, it's become clear I need to re-read the book to gain a deeper understanding of its more subtle nuances.

Submitted byjbjacobyon Sun, 01/06/2013 - 15:50

steved, I played around with the lighting and sharpness of the grave marker in PhotoShop, and I believe it says this:

CLAUDIA Esselstyn Died Sep. 20 1862 aged 11 mo. & 9 ds. Lovely babe [illegible word(s); sentence possibly continuing onto a line below]

Happy hunting! Jenny

Submitted byjbjacobyon Sun, 01/06/2013 - 15:57

P.S.  It removed my hard returns in the inscription.  :(  There should be a 2 hard returns after "Claudia", one after "Esselstyn", one after "Died Sep. 20",  one after "1862 aged 11", and two after " mo. & 9 ds."  Sorry about that!

Submitted bystevedon Mon, 01/07/2013 - 09:36


A quick note of thanks for your efforts on this stone. Your comments agree with other records that I have found concerning Claudia. Best wishes,

Steve Dahlstrom

Submitted byEEon Tue, 01/29/2013 - 10:02

Jason, EE doesn't get into the weeds of specific software, but let us ask you a question back: Why do you have doubts about the citation you've constructed?

Submitted byStoatmonsteron Tue, 03/05/2013 - 02:11

Hi: I've been following this thread with interest. Please review the citation below:

Innes Hutchison, “Col Samuel George Carter,” database and images, Find A Grave ( : created 21 October 2012), memorial page for Colonel Samuel George Carter (1826–1887), Find A Grave Memorial no. 99341157, citing Row 25, Saint Saviour's Churchyard, St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands; Hutchison’s accompanying photographs of the grave and churchyard are materially informative, but do not provide a legible image of the inscribed data.

Because your QuickSheet [for] Citing Online Historical Resources states that online sources "have the same core elements as printed publications" and that "websites that offer multiple items ... are the online equivalent of books with independent chapters by different authors," one should inter alia, the item's author/creator, the item's name, as well as the associated publication data.

In the real life example, cited above, I have included Innes Hutchison as the creator and “Col Samuel George Carter” as the item/page's name. In the publication section, I have included the page's creation date.

This format is different from the version being discussed in this thread but seems to comply with EE's format for citing online resources. Please advise whether I am on the right track and whether I am using an appropriate citation format for this Find a Grave record.

Many thanks,


Jeremy, the arrangement of elements in your citation would tell your reader (and yourself at a later date), that Innes Hutchison created a database and images called "Col Samuel George Carter," which is found at an umbrella website called Find A Grave. With all due respect to Innes Hutchison, Find A Grave is likely to dispute any claim that he created their database and all the images attached to that database.  

The web page titled "Col Samuel George Carter" is not a database. It's only an "entry" within that database. The database is constructed so that each entry appears on a separate page, but it's still only one wee item out of many offered in the Find A Grave database. The place to cite the page and its creator—so that no one will be confused—is in the "specific item" field, consecutive with the item number, as illustrated in this thread's Message no. 2, above.

Submitted byJan_Son Mon, 06/24/2013 - 23:06

I am trying to understand how to source correctly. I bought EE and am trying to understand how to apply the information. I use Family Tree Maker for my database.

If I could get at least one entry correct, I think I would have more confidence.

My question will refer to Find A Grave. I have many pieces of information from this source.

If I understand correctly, Find A Grave is a source. The generic entry for this source is: Find A Grave. 

*Should a date be included in this source entry? I will probably be using this source over a period of years.

This source will be used on numerous occasions. If I understand correctly, each reference note will then contain the specifics for a different memorial. I customized the reference note in Family Tree Maker using information given on this website. The reference note looks like this:


Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 23 June 2013), memorial page for William F. Bailey (1876-1977), Find A Grave Memorial no. 69676153, citing Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, Monroe County, NY; accompanying photograph by Jay C.

Please let me know if I understand this correctly. I am about to throw up my hands - feeling inadequate to this task. It's taken me hours to try to understand how to enter a single source and reference note.




Submitted bystevedon Tue, 06/25/2013 - 09:01

Jan S.

  While I do not consider myself an expert on all things EE, I know exactly what you are talking about with FTM, since I also use that software. You are correct, can be set up as the Source Title in FTM. I've not had much luck "configuring" FTM to accept these in any automatic way, but I have developed a method that works pretty well for me.

  I have a template document set up in word:

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed [date]), photograph by [name], memorial page for [name] ([birth year] – [death year]), Find A Grave Memorial no. [memorial no.], citing [name of cemetery], [location of cemetery].

  Were I have enclosed information in brackets, I have created a form field in Word. Then, I protect the document, fill in the blanks, unprotect the document, then paste the result into the Citation Detail blank in the Source Citation Information. Finally, I delete the words "Find A" and italicize the first word. This may sound complicated, but it only takes a few seconds.

  The result is a nicely formatted reference, that can be attached to whichever ancestor this applies to. I have attached a copy of the screen from my copy of FTM. I have not upgraded and am using FTM 2010.

  Let me know if this helps.

Steve Dahlstrom

Submitted byJere Beckeron Tue, 07/09/2013 - 20:21


I am new to Evidence Explained and new to this forum, but I would like this discussion to return to Jeremy’s point about the creator of the memorial being the equivalent of the author of a book.  I had reached this conclusion myself after using many Find A Grave memorials in my research; it matters WHO created the memorial because Find A Grave’s database has been created by many, many, people with different motivations & purposes & degrees of diligence.  It matters who made the memorial the same way it matters who wrote a scholarly book; the better the scholar the better the book.

Generally, databases are created by a single administrative source; Find A Grave, on the other hand, is a conglomeration of burial information gathered from headstones, sexton information, family members, newspaper reports, books, cemetery inventories, etc..  Some of the creators will let you know exactly where they got the information if you contact them directly, and this can lead to further discoveries; some have no idea or are inputting family legend.  It is best to know what you are dealing with.

This is how I have been doing it (although after looking at some of your examples I believe that I may need to revise how I have been doing my Find A Grave citations, & I would welcome your suggestions):

Find A Grave memorial created by Cheryl Ayres (#46935923), for Susan A McCormick Angelo # 75769237; accessed 2012 by Jere McCormick Becker.

~  Jere

P.S.  While I do think of the creator as the equivalent of an author, I put Find A Grave first, mostly for alphabetization purposes, but also because I think it makes it easier for a person reviewing the citation to quickly grasp the nature of the source.

Submitted byEEon Wed, 07/10/2013 - 12:50

In reply to by Jere Becker


You began by saying that you were new to using Evidence Explained, so we'll make a couple of suggestions based on the citation you've proffered:

Find A Grave memorial created by Cheryl Ayres (#46935923), for Susan A McCormick Angelo # 75769237; accessed 2012 by Jere McCormick Becker.

EE 2.38:

This section covers the structure of reference notes. Note particularly: "All elements that describe the source are linked together, sentence style. A period appears at the end of each source’s citation. No period appears in the middle of elements that describe a source (aside from an occasionally abbreviated word)." If, in a reference note, we put a part of a citation in one sentence and a part of a citation in another sentence, we are implying that these are two separate sources.

EE 2.33

Here, you'll find a structure for citing online works—one that follows the same structure we use for ordinary book citations: Author/Creator, Title, identifier or delimeters (Publication place : date), specific data.

A book citation that follows this pattern would produce something like this.

Englebert Humperdinckle, A History of Music, 3 vols. (New York : 1969), 1:23.

This same pattern for a website (specifically the one you broach) would produce this:

Jim Tipton et al., FindAGrave, database and images ( : accessed 10 July 2013), memorial page for Susan A. McCormick Angelo, #75769237, created by Cheryl Ayres.

We might well debate the appropriateness of including Mr. Tipton in the citation. To give the credit he deserves, as its founder, he would be included. As a matter of practice, most users don't take the trouble to study the website to identify the creator—and, in a source list or bibliography, few individuals would look for Find A Grave under Mr. Tipton's surname.

EE 2.37

The discussion here focuses on essential data for citing a website: specifically the access date. There are good reasons for citing the exact date on which we access a web page. The identity of the person who accessed the site is not something normally included. (If we cite ourselves for accessing a website, why would we not cite ourselves for accessing a book?)

EE 2.22

Here, at "Citing Titles, Basic Rules," note that titles of books, websites, etc., are italicized. There are all sorts of logical reasons for this as well. Most of them are covered in EE.


Submitted byEEon Wed, 07/10/2013 - 12:23


Do you also get the daily tips at EE's Facebook page? In yesterday's "Tuesday's Test," we asked: What's the Velcro Principle of source citation? The answer was: Don't separate what ought to be stuck together!

From this perspective, let's look at the suggested citation. It begins with "Find a Grave." It ends with Find a Grave's URL. Logic would dictate that a citation's identification of the source should be grouped in one place, rather than widely separating the parts.(Remember that a source is a container. Information is the goodies inside the container. In your suggested format, we are first given part of the container, then the goodies inside the container, then the rest of the container.)

Your citation clearly recognizes two important points:

  1. The source needs to be identified first to 'make it easier for a person reviewing the citation to quickly grasp the nature of the source.'
  2. A major collection or source such as Find a Grave needs to be alphabetized under that source, rather than an individual item within.

As you have time to study EE, particularly the first two chapters where fundamentals are laid out, you'll see how these two points are honored by certain long-standing conventions about the arrangement of elements within a citation.

Your recognition of Point 1, above, also gets to the heart of the problem you raise in your very first sentence: the reason why we cannot treat the contributor to Find A Grave as an author to a book. In source lists (bibliographies), books are alphabetized by the name of the author. But the website Find A Grave has tens of thousands of contributors. If you use that website extensively, and you construct each citation in a book format, then you could have hundreds of citations to Find A Grave. You've obviously recognized that problem and have tried to deal with it by sticking "Find A Grave" at the start of the citation before the contributor's name—but doing so then created a problem: your ripped-apart identification of the website.

If we follow the pattern suggested in Message 2, above, we address these problems and end up with a significantly shorter citation:

FindAGrave, database and images ( : accessed 10 July 2013), memorial page for Susan A. McCormick Angelo, #75769237, created by Cheryl Ayres.

In a separate post, we'll comment on a couple of other points.

Submitted bystevedon Sat, 07/13/2013 - 18:49

Your response to #27 interests me when you give the following example:

"This same pattern for a website (specifically the one you broach) would produce this:

Jim Tipton et al., FindAGrave, database and images ( : accessed 10 July 2013), memorial page for Susan A. McCormick Angelo, #75769237, created by Cheryl Ayres.


While I understand the reason for crediting Mr. Timpton, it seems unnecessary in this example.

However, you have also dropped the citation information shown in your response to #2 (the cemetery) and credit for the photographer. While I would prefer to use your latest example because it does lead me to the information, I am interested in knowing why you might now suggest this more abbreviated approach. Thank for your response.


Submitted byEEon Sun, 07/14/2013 - 09:03

Steve, the response to Message 27 analyzed the data and the arguments posed by the author of that message.

Our purpose here is not to supply rigid formats that researchers can routinely use for every situation. Instead, we try to help them think through the issues that are niggling at them. The other issues had been addressed already in this thread.

Submitted bynewonashon Sat, 11/09/2013 - 13:16

I have read this thread several times and I'm still unclear how a reference note for Find A Grave should look.  I would appreciate input for my several questions below.

As a starting point, I have used Steve's selection, as revised by me.  I have gone with jbjacoby's post to assume that the grave marker is legible for purposes of my post, such that different information is available from the text on the memorial page and from the inscription on the gravestone. I have some words in pointy brackets as items that I'm not sure whether they should be included.

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 14 March 2011), memorial page <for Claudia J. Esselstyn,> #7,487,109, created by Cemetery Walker; <citing> <Aztalan Cemetery, Milford, Jefferson County, Wisconsin>; database entry <for,> and photograph of gravestone <of, Claudia J. Esseltyn <(1861-1862)>>; undocumented.

I have eliminated (1861-1862) after the first appearance of Claudia J. Essestyn's name as unnecessary due to the memorial number.  I have eliminated "Find A Grave Memorial" before the memorial number as repetitive and unnecessary.

I'm not sure whether giving the name on the memorial page is necessary as the memorial number, if correct, would be a way of finding the memorial page, although it seems a little antiseptic.  It also seem duplicative if the name is used again as part of the description of the photograph of the gravestone.  Or to reverse the question, if the name is included as part of the memorial page description, should the name be repeated as part of the photograph description?

If we do include the name as part of the description of the photograph, is it necessary or a good idea to include the dates of birth and death?  They are included in EE 5.16 as a part of identifying the gravestone for a non-digital image reference note, but wouldn't be necessary because of the memorial page number for the digital image.  If the dates are included, is it customary to only include the years as in EE 5.16, or should whatever is on the gravestone be used, such as "(Dec 1861 - Sep 20, 1862)"?

Citing the cemetery makes no sense to me.  A citation should be to a source, not to a location.  Perhaps in this case the information for Claudia J. Esselstyn came from the cemetery records, but the memorial page doesn't say that; it simply indicates where she was buried.  I have seen plenty of other Find A Grave memorial pages where the information appears to have been from an uncited book, uncited obituary, or probably from the creator's personal knowledge.  That is why I have added the word "undocumented" and eliminated the word "citing".

That leaves the question of whether the name and place of the cemetery should be included or not, even if they are not being used as part of a citation.  If digital images were not involved and we were talking about the researcher's personal visit to the cemetery, clearly the name and place of the cemetery would be necessary as a means of someone else locating the gravestone.  But with a digital image, as with the person's name, this information is unnecessary given the memorial number, yet again seems antiseptic.

My final questions have to do with how the reference note should change, if at all, given the particular information involved.  Assume for the moment that no age was on the gravestone such that it didn't give any clue as to the date of birth. The text in the memorial page states that Claudia J. Esselstyn was born Dec., 1861.  Wouldn't the reference note above have to change, depending on whether we were giving a citation for the date of birth or the date of death?  That is, wouldn't the reference note for the date of birth have to delete the mention of the photograph? Would it also mean that the beginning of the reference note be changed to just "database" rather than "database and images"? (I'm not clear as to whether "database and images" in a reference note simply is a generic description of the website as a whole or whether it means that information from the database AND and from the images was found for this particular person.)

Thanks for your help in helping me ponder through all these questions.







Submitted byEEon Sun, 11/10/2013 - 11:19

Your thoughtful questions well reflect the kind of evaluation each of us should do whenever we use a source. At Find A Grave and other sites, physical as well as virtual, we repeatedly ask ourselves whether it is "necessary or a good idea to include" this-or-that piece of information. We ask whether our basic format for a reference note should change as a result of variances between sources or between pieces of information in the same source. Each time we ask those questiosn, the answer itself will likely vary according to the circumstances at hand.

Typically, the first answer to our questions will be two other questions:

  • What do I have to include in order for this citation (and the strengths and weaknesses of my source) to be clear to someone who hasn't used this source?
  • Does it really matter whether I use "this" wording or "that" wording, or is this one of those situations that boil down to personal preference?

EE's first two chapters lay down ground rules for all these considerations. The other twelve "subject-area" chapters raise considerations relevant to specific types of sources. The discussion above explores varying situations found at one particular website. It's natural when we are confronted with many possibilities for a single source, or source type, to wish that everything could be stripped down to a one-size-fits-all formula, using an undeviating set of words. That would make life a lot simpler. That would (some folks think!) make sure that everyone who reads our citation has to accept the fact that "we got it right."  But, of course, that's not reality in the research world. The reality is that after we pose those perceptive questions you're now posing, we have to make our own decisions based upon (a) our understanding of the core principles of citation; and (b) the circumstances we're actually eyeballing.


Submitted byEEon Sun, 05/17/2015 - 17:45

Foodclub, it's the legion of issues like this that prompts one to say "Citation is an art, not a science."


Submitted bynewonashon Sat, 05/30/2015 - 10:19

Taking to heart that "[c]itation is an art, not a science," EE 2.1, I continue to mull over how to create citations to Find A Grave.  One of many questions that I have is:  What should the citation be if the information that I am relying on comes from an online photograph/digital image of a grave marker?

I will use Find A Grave memorial no. 12213344 (Adson M. Hickok) as an example.

If no website was involved, my citation, relying on EE 5.11, would be:

Rose Creek Enterprise Cemetery (Varco, Minnesota), Adson M. Hickok marker (1900-1984); photographed by Janet Huseby Stephenson.

My thought is that citing to the photograph/digital image is citing to the original -- "albeit in surrogate form" -- just as citing to an image of a record or a book, as in EE 9.6 or the QuickCheck Model IMAGE COPIES ONLINE PUBLICATION, so I would append the website information:

Rose Creek Enterprise Cemetery (Varco, Minnesota), Adson M. Hickok marker (1900-1984); photographed by Janet Huseby Stephenson; Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 30 May 2015), memorial no. 12213344.

Or, alternatively,

Rose Creek Enterprise Cemetery (Varco, Minnesota), Adson M. Hickok marker (1900-1984); digital image (provided by Janet Huseby Stephenson), Find A Grave ( : accessed 30 May 2015), memorial no. 12213344.

My order is the reverse of what you indicated:  "To create the whole, we string these items together in the order above: the website, the specific page, the specific item on the page."  Yet my order seems consistent with the other parts of EE that I referenced.

I would appreciate very much your feedback.



Any time a source comes to us as part of something else, one of our first decisions is What do we want to emphasize?  (EE 2.47-2.54) For example: do we want to emphasize the document or the collection? Do we want to emphasize the imaged document or the database in which we find it?  As you've noted, throughout EE you will find examples of citing one vs. the other (11.11 or 11.30 being a quick example).

A second consideration, when citing an image at a database is whether all the information we are citing appears in that image or whether part of the data comes from the accompanying database entry.

In the case at hand, the name and the dates of the deceased are very clearly evident on the tombstone. However, without the database, where would you get the information about the cemetery and its location? Did you already know that information and go to the burial site yourself to verify that his remains are marked there?  Or did you discover that information by entering his name into the search box at Find A Grave.

Let us say that you did visit the cemetery some years ago, personally confirmed that the marker is there, and you transcribed the data but did not take a photograph. Now you’ve found a photo online. It would be perfectly logical in this case for your citation to lead with Cemetery name (location), Marker name (dates) and then, in a second layer, cite Find A Grave for the photo of the stone. The only difference between your second suggestion and ours is that EE would not put Stephenson’s name before the name of the website, in the field usually reserved for the creator of the website. EE would suggest tagging it onto the end, after the memorial page on which it appears, as “undated photo by Janet Huseby Stephenson.”

Submitted bynewonashon Sun, 05/31/2015 - 19:53

Thank you.  While my thought was to emphasize the photograph, your great point about the photograph not having the information about the cemetery had made me reconsider.

Submitted byrshedenhelmon Thu, 06/11/2015 - 14:51


  Starting to work with the wonderful EE ed. 3 has brought up a question regarding Find A Grave.  Is not the corporate owner

Thanks much,


Submitted byEEon Fri, 06/12/2015 - 17:11


Thanks for applying the adjective wonderful in fron of EE3. :)

With regard to your question, I'm assuming that your reason for raising it has to do with who should be cited as the owner/creator of the website Find A Grave. Corporate buyouts and mergers present endless dilemmas for anyone who cites a commercial website. (Do I cite it under this name? Do I cite it under that name? Do I have to go back and "correct" my citations every time there's a new acquisition? Or: Can I even be sure that the last merger I heard about is actually the last one?)

We've addressed this before in other threads such as   EE's QuickCheckModel on p. 216 addresses this from another perspective. We might also ask ourselves: What is really essential? Does a major site such as Find A Grave, which has now entered the corporate arena, need to have a corporate owner identified in order to (a) locate the site; and (b) understand the quality of the information at the site?

Another issue is also at play. Did the corporate buyout or merger affect the structure, management, or identity of the site? A site may have a new corporate owner but continue to operate under the same identity. Here, we typically take our cue from the site's "about" or "terms of use" page. For Find A Grave, the current page tells us (first paragraph):

Please review the following terms of service ("Terms"), which define your rights, responsibilities and benefits as a user of the websites at,,,, and and any other website or mobile application (collectively "Websites") that directly links to these Terms and is operated by Find A Grave, Inc, Delaware file number: 3168328, located at 360 W 4800 N, Provo, UT 84604, United States ("Find A Grave", "us", "our", or "we"). Find A Grave's email address for contact purposes is

While the page later tells us that Find A Grave (the corporation)and Find A Grave (the website) are part of the "Ancestry Community," the operative identity is in the paragraph above. That's what is used in EE3's QuickCheck Model on p. 216.

Submitted bydsliesseon Fri, 06/12/2015 - 18:14

In reply to by EE

In other words, "does it matter" who the corporate owner is?

I see this as a parallel to other ownership issues.  Do we care which corporate conglomerate owns a particular publishing house?  Or do we care which publishing overlord owns a particular newspaper?  Generally, no; all we need to cite is the particular publisher (Bantam Books, for example) rather than its owner (Random House, in this case).  Similarly, we would cite USA Today instead of Gannett Publishing.

This isn't exactly the same, of course, but I know that when I'm looking for a website all I care about is the primary domain.  If the URL was "" then I'd credit it to Ancestry (as findagrave is then a subdomain).  Since it's "," though, I'd credit it to

On the right track?


PS - not directly relevant, but be sure you're using the photo within the limits of the licensing agreement.  I'm as much a zealot for intellectual property rights/rules/laws as Judy Russell is.

Submitted byrshedenhelmon Fri, 06/12/2015 - 19:23

In reply to by EE

Thanks so much!  What you say makes good sense and can be remembered as a principle for future cases.

Spending many hours this week with the wonderful EE to format my next genealogical book...

Very best,




Submitted byrworthingtonon Fri, 06/12/2015 - 20:41

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the clarification.

I actually will end up with 2 Citations for a Find-A-Grave Memorial. If I get a hint from Ancestry and See the Find-A-Grave Index collection, I will Cite That and where I got it from ( Reason, it's quick and simple but it gives me the Memorial Number.

I generally capture MORE Claims from the Find-A-Grave Memorial itself, like relationships, images, and information that the contributor might have included. 

From what I have seen, in many cases there is Different Information on the Ancestry Index, than the Memorial Itself? Why capture the Index? Time. BUT I add a ToDo item to go get the data from the Find-A-Grave memorial.

But, that's just me.


Submitted byeevandeon Thu, 09/15/2016 - 03:27


Usernames on Find A Grave are not usernames as we know them in the computer world. We don't use them to log in. They are simply public identifiers and can be changed at any time. We log in with our email addresses, but those aren't constant, either. We can also change those at any time. What is constant is the user's ID - a unique identifier (e.g., 12345123). Anytime I refer to a user, whether as a creator or maintainer of a memorial, or as a photo contributor, it seems that I should include that unique identifier in my citation. Technically, putting a "username" in quotation marks seems logical, but it is a lot of clutter and unnecessary redundancy since we really don't know whether a username is a pseudonym or not.

Additionally, I propose the date the memorial was added and the date a photo was added to the memorial could be included in the citation. But I am not sure. One would think that the accessed date would cover whether or not the photos are the ones I am referring to (there could be multiple photos added by different users on different dates, or the same dates by the same user, etc.). Each photo does also have a unique identifying number that, while not shown on the screen, is in its URL on its photograph page (e.g., It would be a nicety if that ID were on the photo page. My point in this paragraph is that if I am going to be specific, I need to be specific enough to state which photo(s) I am citing. There is really only one way to do that - with that number - but I dread thinking of using it, if you know what I mean.

So here is one example with dates instead of unique numbers for the photos.

1. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 15 September 2016), memorial page for Caroline Judge Hughes, #36274204, added and maintained by Kathy Price Leonard, #46504572; citing South Grove Cemetery, Mills County, Iowa; accompanying photos by Marty & Harley, #47240226, added 29 August 2012. The first name of Caroline, the name of her husband, and her age at death are partially overgrown by grass in these two photos.

I am considering putting the IDs for the users in parentheses, which would look like this:

2. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 15 September 2016), memorial page for Caroline Judge Hughes, #36274204, added and maintained by Kathy Price Leonard (#46504572); citing South Grove Cemetery, Mills County, Iowa; accompanying photos by Marty & Harley (#47240226), added 29 August 2012. The first name of Caroline, the name of her husband, and her age at death are partially overgrown by grass in these two photos.

Finally, on the example in message #2, above, it seems that the cemetery is a separate layer, and if it is, why is it not separated by a semicolon before the word "citing" instead of a comma?

Thanks in advance.

Submitted byEEon Sun, 09/18/2016 - 14:12

eevande, to cover your several points:

  • your distinction about user names at FindAGrave is correct, of course.
  • Whether we call a pseudonym a "user name" or a "unique identifier," the longstanding practice for citations is to put the pseudonym in quotation marks to alert the reader (or remind ourselves at a later date after our recollection has gone cold) that this is not an actual name—or the partial name of a source that has previously been identified in full.
  • If we wish to include the date a photograph or memorial was added to an individual page, we are free to do that.
  • Citing a long URL has its pros and cons (which EE addresses at 2.37, 6.28, 6.31  and elsewhere). However, most long URLs are not stable URLs and the one you cite does not carry a PAL, ARK, SORD, or similar indication that it is a permanent address on the web. Again, we are free to cite that long URL if we choose; but unless a long URL carries some indication that it is a permanent address, many users will find another way to cite the individual page.

Bottom line: As researchers, we may add anything to our citations that we feel will help us as we proceed with the project—recognizing that the citations may be trimmed at publication time.

Thanks for giving our fellow researchers more issues to consider.

Cool. Thanks. So my last question, which I think you missed (unless I missed your answer), is something that has probably been hashed out dozens of times, but let me ask it dozens plus one.

In message #48, I asked: "Finally, on the example in message #2, above, it seems that the cemetery is a separate layer, and if it is, why is it not separated by a semicolon before the word "citing" instead of a comma?"

Submitted byrworthingtonon Sun, 09/18/2016 - 20:47

Dear Editor,

Hope it's OK for a follow up post on this Find A Grave question. This process has worked for me for a while and, to me, it's been successful.

First, I am looking to to find the person of interest, based on what I have in my Ancestry Member Tree and in my genealogy database. When I see a Hint, pointing to Find A Grave, I am the 2nd set of eyes looking at the hint. The computers being the first. I do my evaluation of the Index Hint, which is what provides and IF it is my person of interest I record the information provided with this Reference Note:, "U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current", database, ( : accessed 23 Jun 2016) entry for William H Ort; Death Date: 21 Oct 1907, buried in the Union Cemetery.

The information provided is a link to the Find A Grave Memorial. Generally, I do not go there right then, but will work through other records like this. This index is just the pointer, for me, on where to get the details. Again, I am letting the search facilities on Ancestry to find my person, but I must evaluate the index to see of it's my person, and the data provided is generally enough.

Later I will go to the Find A Grave website and re-evaluate that this really is my person, as there may be other relationships and dates on the Find A Grave website, as it is not an index. The Reference Note looks like this:

Donna Unknown, "Find A Grave", database, Find A Grave ( : accessed 03 Jul 2016) William H Ort (1840 - 1907) - Find A Grave Memorial# 17540122.

In this case, the creator of the Memorial only had her first name, so I have a number of "unknown" contributors in my database. I know who created the memorial and the memorial number. The Find A Grave website has a way to search for a memorial number, so the bread crumb will le me, or anyone else go back a find it.

In this case, how to handle any images on the Find A Grave website. In this specific case, I have a photograph of the headstone that I took so it is in my genealogy database.

Russ Worthington photograph; privately held by Russ Worthington, Hackettstown, New Jersey 07840, 2016.  Headstone Photograph for William Henry Ort in the Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Churchyard, Pleasant Grove, Morris County, New Jersey

For other headstone photographs, I cite them like the Memorial creator. Many times the person creating the memorial may not be the photographer. I may have those images in my file, but are marked Private, so that they will NOT be included in the online tree. I do not have permission to use them, so I will not publish them. I want to look at them for my own use, and they are cited.

One question that I might have here. In the 3rd Reference Note, Should the Date the Photograph was taken, be included in the Reference Note? It is in my database, but am not including it.

I might point out that my software may be limiting part of what is in the Reference Note.


Submitted byEEon Mon, 09/19/2016 - 10:48

Russ, thanks for sharing your observations and experiences. In answer to your question, if the contributor of the data identifies the date the stone was photographed, certainly that's a valuable piece of information to record.

Submitted byrworthingtonon Mon, 09/19/2016 - 12:52

Dear Editor,

Great, Thank you.


Submitted byrworthingtonon Mon, 09/19/2016 - 21:11

Dear Editor,

To complete my part of this conversation, I updated the photograph Reference Note:

Russ Worthington photograph; privately held by Russ Worthington, Hackettstown, New Jersey 07840, 2016.  Headstone Photograph for William Henry Ort in the Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Churchyard, Pleasant Grove, Morris County, New Jersey. Photograph taken 16 Jun 2011.



Submitted byeevandeon Mon, 09/19/2016 - 22:39

In reply to by rworthington

Russ, for photos in my own collection, I also specify when and by whom the photograph was taken, as well as when and by whom it was transcribed, and whether it was transcribed in person or from the photograph.

Submitted byrworthingtonon Mon, 09/19/2016 - 22:55


Can you tell who took the photo and when, in message #54 ?

The Contributor is the person who transcribed any information on the Find A Grave website. I think that my 2nd Reference Note in Message #51 contains that information. The contributor is the only one who can Edit the information on the Find A Grave website, right ?

Some, like me, will ONLY transcribe from the Photograph that I took and posted on the website. 

I record what is on the Website, but look for other records to prove or disprove the information on the Find A Grave website.


Submitted byeevandeon Mon, 09/19/2016 - 23:55

In reply to by rworthington

I was thinking in terms of a photograph in my own collection - one that I own the rights to and am using as a source (because that's what I thought you were talking about in message #54, taking FindAGrave out of the picture for a minute for simplification).

I can tell who took the photo (you) and when (the date) in that message #54. What I don't know is whether you transcribed it, and where/when it was transcribed in person at the graveyard or from the photograph later.

To be able to judge the quality of your source, I would really need to know all of that information.

For example, on a trip to several cemeteries in 1986, my uncle took the photographs, and I transcribed them from the actual stones at the time he was photographing them. My source citations show him as the photographer and when, and me as the transcriber and when and where.

(I also include this information in a photo note when I post it on a Find A Grave memorial.)

Example with different photographer and transcriber, transcribed in person:

1. Harlan Cemetery (Hancock County, Indiana), Marion Coon marker, photographed by James W. Wilson, 3 July 1986, and transcribed in person by Elizabeth Wilson Ballard, 3 July 1986.

If the transcriber and photographer are the same and transcription is made in person:

2. Harlan Cemetery (Hancock County, Indiana), Marion Coon marker, photographed and transcribed in person by James W. Wilson, 3 July 1986.

Transcribed from photograph by different people:

3. Harlan Cemetery (Hancock County, Indiana), Marion Coon marker, photographed by James W. Wilson, 3 July 1986, transcribed from photo by Elizabeth Wilson Ballard.

And so on...

Submitted byrworthingtonon Tue, 09/20/2016 - 00:47


But, you don't know what Facts or Events the citations are linked to. ALL the reference note is linked to is the Photograph, and the Facts or Events that are documented in that photograph.

The Reference Note is only part of the story. The Citation, as least mine, are linked to the details you are looking for. If you were to look at my research, you aren't going to look at the source matrial first, I think you are going to be looking at the information in the research, then look at the documentation. Right?

So, for example, the Name, Death Year, Birth Year, and Cemetery involved would each have a Reference Note from the two earlier messages. You would see a citation on the name of at least the Find A Grave Index, the Memorial Page on the Find A Grave website, and the Photograph taken at that cemetery. 

Isn't then that you would evaluate my research? I hope not on a single Reference Note without knowing the information it is documenting.


Submitted byeevandeon Tue, 09/20/2016 - 01:56

Ah... I see. I had misunderstood the context of the reference note (I was concerned that I had done that).

So in your message #59, paragraph 3, yep. I agree and I would not evaluate your research on reference notes (definitely not just one!) alone.

Thank you for the clarification.


Submitted byeevandeon Mon, 03/13/2017 - 22:22

Hello, in this thread, have we covered how to cite the cemetery in a Find A Grave source citation if there is no cemetery attached to that memorial?

I'm stumped on this one and tried finding it in this thread but had no luck.

Submitted byEEon Tue, 03/14/2017 - 10:20

eevande, if there's no cemetery identified, how could we cite it?  We cite what we use. We can add to that the data that our source gives for its source. But if our source does not give us a source, we have nothing to cite except our source.  Is this an instance in which someone has created a memorial page, without tombstone photographs or other evidence of the burial?


Submitted byeevandeon Thu, 03/16/2017 - 17:58

Sorry for the delay. Thank you for the reply.

There are a few situations that I can think of in which a "cemetery" may not exist. Here I am using some wording of the options from Find A Grave. For all of these citations, I have simply removed the semi-colon and the cemetery cited (or more accurately, didn't put them to begin with), and after the maintainer of the memorial, placed another comma followed by the category used on the memorial for the disposition of the remains. Obviously, I have left out any analytical comments just for the examples.


Cremation (ashes scattered, location unknown, etc.)

17. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 15 September 2016), memorial 125203443, James Joseph Wilson, maintained by "Elizabeth (Wilson) Ballard" (47892738), cremation.

Body lost or destroyed (with or without specifics)

18. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 15 September 2016), memorial 155561682, John Judge, maintained by "Elizabeth (Wilson) Ballard" (47892738), body lost or destroyed.

Non-cemetery burial

19. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 15 September 2016), memorial 50794371, Cattron Van Meter Blue, maintained by "Sue McDuffe:)" (47122067), non-cemetery burial.


(This is for a non-existent memorial because I couldn't find one with disposition unknown, although there are plenty.)

20. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 15 September 2016), memorial 91000000000000, John Jay Doe, maintained by "Joe Smith" (9100000000), disposition unknown.


Submitted byEEon Fri, 03/17/2017 - 09:24

Very useful examples, eevande. There's one thing more that could be added to assist with evaluation of data:  a notation regarding the evidence provided in these situations in which no tombstone exists for imaging as proof.

Cremation (ashes scattered, location unknown, etc.)

       17. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 15 September 2016), memorial 125203443, James Joseph Wilson, maintained by Elizabeth (Wilson) Ballard (contributor 47892738), who reports a cremation but provides no details or evidence.

Body lost or destroyed (with or without specifics)

18. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 15 September 2016), memorial 155561682, John Judge, maintained by Elizabeth (Wilson) Ballard (contributor 47892738), who reports "body lost or destroyed.," but does not state the evidence for her conclusion.

Non-cemetery burial

19. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 15 September 2016), memorial 50794371, Cattron Van Meter Blue, maintained by Sue McDuffe (contributor 47122067), who reports a "non-cemetery burial," but provides no details or evidence.

You will notice two other wee tweaks.

  • One, I removed the quotation marks around the names of the contributors. Under the circumstances (the use of a standard name), there's no need. If the contributor was identified at the site only as, say "eevande," then quotation marks would be appropriate to say "I'm quoting the name exactly as it appeared." 
  • Because there are two sets of numbers in each citation, it's best to say what each set of numbers represents.

This leaves us now with one issue: In each case, you use the phrase "maintained by ..."  Did each of those maintenance-people also contribute the data?

Who provided the information, of course, is the most critical point of an analysis; but often, with Find A Grave, the person who created the page and posted the data, is not the person now maintaining the page. We would like to think that if the creator had posted erroneous information, then the person who took over the page and maintained it would correct the information; but too often, that's not done. Ergo, it's wise to be specific as to the creator as well as the maintenance person.

Submitted byeevandeon Sun, 03/19/2017 - 01:20


The issues we brought up:

1) "[Include] notation regarding the evidence provided in these situations in which no tombstone exists for imaging as proof." Agreed.

2) Add the word “contributor” in the parentheses before the contributor number. Great idea.

3) Remove the quotation marks around names but not obvious pseudonyms. Ehhh… still don’t agree with that one. I’m going to keep using my quotation marks unless I discover the actual name of the contributor. What I would do in that location to satisfy both your desire and mine is as we discussed in the “Citing Correspondence through 23andMe” topic, reply #7 (

If I have since learned the real name of the person, do this:
    created and maintained by “eevande” [Elizabeth Ballard] (contributor 47892738)
and if I have not, do this:
    created and maintained by “eevande” (contributor 47892738)

What you are saying is if it looks like a name, it’s a name. I guess I’m just more on the cautionary or literal side.

4) I should not have left out “created.” You caught me. Good eye. And if the creator and maintainer were two separate contributors, I would specify that.

Thank you, as always, for your thoroughness and care.

“eevande” (just kidding)

Submitted byHistory Hunteron Sun, 04/30/2017 - 20:36

Dear Editor;

I read through this series of posts with great interest. I'm very happy to see that someone was kind enough to summarize the citation discussion in a concise manner. In the course of an intellectual discussion, we all tend to explore (and should explore) ideas that may not prove useful as an answer to the original question. The summary helps to highlight the answer in a form which is easier to consult. Well done.

If I may add just one more thought that ocurred to me in reading the discussion...

It is an observation about some of the information one finds on the textual pages of cemetery-related sites such as Findagrave. Maybe it's something that we should all keep in mind when choosing to cite information from such cemetery-related sites.

I'm beginning to wonder if citing the textual portion of a cemetery site record is wise, unless the text clearly states the origin of the information or a provides legible photo from which the information was transcribed. I've seen more than a a few instances in which some of the textual info is not drawn from the attached photo, or there is no supporting photo, and/or the text contains additional information for which the origin is not stated. While this is not so much a citation issue as one of the quality of the evidence cited, it does raise a cautionary flag about evaluating sources prior to citing them.



Submitted byEEon Mon, 05/01/2017 - 09:45

History Hunter,  you raise a thought-provoking question: Is it wise to cite "the textual portion of a cemetery site record" if the site does not source its data or provide a "legible photo from which the information was transcribed." 

The core of the question, of course, is source-quality: should we cite undocumented sources? It's an issue faced by active researchers every day with all kinds of records. The more-central question is: Should we take data from undocumented sources?

Almost all researchers do, but better researchers do so with very clear caveats. Any kind of source can err and the fact that someone cites a source for their assertion does not make the assertion correct. It simply means that we now know where to go to attempt to verify that assertion. Even when an assertion has no source attached at all, it may be a valuable clue. Passing it up simply because no supporting evidence is cited (what some call "source snobbery") is often self-defeating.

The compromise is to copy the pertinent piece of information, identify the source from which we took it, and then add a notation to say that no supporting evidence is offered for this assertion and that evidence must be found and accuracy verified before the assertion can be accepted.


Submitted byeevandeon Mon, 05/01/2017 - 14:18

History Hunter,

I addressed this, as well as how I have developed my source formats, in an article I recently wrote.

Elizabeth Ballard

Submitted bynwaters1942on Fri, 07/31/2020 - 09:49

I am referencing FindaGrave memorials throughout a paper I'm writing. Do I need to reference the entire citation for every reference or can I truncate it with an hereinafter ... after the first citation? 

Thank you

Submitted byEEon Mon, 08/03/2020 - 09:22

nwaters, your situation is why the shorter Subsequent Reference Note exists in "humanities style" citations. EE's QuickCheck Model at p. 216 has a Find A Grave example of both the full citation and the short form.