Citing FamilySearch images

The second edition of EE gives several examples for citing FamilySearch images, see pages, 53, 469, 500-01 and 598-99. It seems that FamilySearch has finally settled on the name FamilySearch. In the examples on 500-01 the phrase "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" was added before the title of the website. The example on p 598-99 omits the above phrase. I am curious as to the reasoning behind adding the "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints".

The current site says, "a service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints". When citing, the company name isn't included in the citation ( Operations, Inc.) Is it necessary to include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the citation?

I am working on citations from the Minnesota, County Marriages, 1860-1949 database and images. When you enter a name to search you receive several "links" to images. Two are for the groom and bride indexes and one is to the book the marriage is recorded in. When you click on the links some basic information is given including the FHL microfilm no. Since I want to cite the record and not the index which is a different microfilm no, (note the index pages use the "marriage" date as 7 November 1896 which is actually a license date), this is what I have come up with:

"Minnesota, County Marriages, 1860-1949," database & digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 December 2011), entry for Hubert Dreissen & Catherine Born, married 10 November 1896, Carver County marriages vol. H, p. 195. no. 1946; citing FHL microfilm 1,434,898

The page number is available on the image. The volume number is available on the index pages or from looking up the film number. FamilySearch seems to be grouping images by film number in this case the film is a continuation from a previous film. Is it necessary to include where the volume no. came from? Does the word citing need to be included as the images are a digital reproduction of the microfilm?


Thank you,

Ann Gilchest

Submitted byEEon Tue, 06/05/2012 - 19:07

Ann, your eagle eye has caught an omission on p. 598. Thank you. It is now flagged for correction at the next printing.
As a rule, as with all types of publications, the author/creator of a website should be identified. However, many websites are eponymous or self-identifying. The title of the website is the name of the author/creator. EE 6.48 (p. 298) addresses the situation this way:
"If the name of the website's creator is different from the website's name, the creator should be identified. In the IPUMS example, two sets of creators have to be cited: one for the database and one for the website. In the GeoStat example, the database creator is the agency itself and the agency's name is replicated in the website name; it would be superflous to cite that agency again as the creator."
Specifically, with regard to, the corporate name, the website name, and the URL are all the same. To repeat the name in all three fields would indeed be redundant.

I went back and looked at the images again and noticed that FamilySearch has added their own "Source citation" at the bottom of the page before you go to the image.

"Minnesota, County Marriages, 1860-1949," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 June 2012), Hubert Dreissen, 1896

I know somewhere in EE there is a discussion about archives and their suggested citations. Which I can't seem to find again! Since FamilySearch is leaving out the website creator would it be appropriate to add the website creator?



The subject is treated under EE 3.2, "Archival Style Guides."

Because staffers who create citations for archives and corporate websites are trained (or not) in many different fields, each of which followed its own traditions, the suggestions at one site can differ radically from those at the next. That means we have to make a choice: (1) Do we use each site's suggestions for its own materials and end up with our own body of citations being a confusing mishmash; or (2) should we choose one style that fills all our needs as historical researchers and use that style consistently? 

And when the website creator's name differs from the website name yet is not immediately apparent?

As examples,, formerly known as, was created by but is now owned by, GenealogyBank is a resource of NewsBank, HeritageQuest is a product line of ProQuest, etc., etc.

Do each of these corporate owners need to be identified?



Leon, to answer your question with a question: Isn't it standard practice to identify authors and creators for all information we use? Given that a website is a publication--sometimes a single-topic publication like a book; sometimes a multi-offering publication like a journal or a book that has individual chapter authors--why would we not cite the entity responsible for the content of the website?

That's not the question.

My query has to do with layers of corporate, or perhaps editorial responsibility.

To carry on with the example of a book, or chapter in a book with multiple authors (let's leave websites aside for the moment), if we are citing a chapter in a book published by Routledge, which is owned by Taylor & Francis, after citing the author and title of the particular article or chapter and the publisher Routledge, is it necessary to also cite Taylor & Francis, or would citing Routledge suffice?

Returning to websites and your published examples of the IPUMS and GeoStat websites, there is a difference between these two in which content is produced by multiple entities, and your comment regarding You wrote "Specifically, with regard to, the corporate name, the website name, and the URL are all the same. To repeat the name in all three fields would indeed be redundant."

Where a citation in our source lists for "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS] FamilySearch. http://www.familysearch.orgis expected and ", Inc." is deemed redundant, is ", Inc. Fold3." expected, particularly when Ancestry's website does not include Fold3 in its list of properties?

Understand that the question isn't about Fold3 or LDS or Ancestry, I'm just looking for clarity on a question that is more than a little bit complex.








Leon, in answer to the question in your second paragraph, when we cite a publisher we do not have to identify holding companies that own the publisher.

With regard to the inclusion of "Inc." in a publisher or corporate author's name, EE 12.1 explains the practice standard across all style guides:

"PUBLISHER: Names of commercial firms are usually spelled out, except for the word Company, which may be abbreviated as Co. Suffixes that denote the kind of company, such as Inc. and Ltd., are commonly dropped. University, when it appears in the name of a publisher, is frequently abbreviated as Univ."

With regard to citing the corporate creator of Fold3's content, we're in the same position as with many websites. Often, regarding of what type of site it is, we can't identify the creator from the page we are using and sometimes not from the home page, but most sites do have an "About" page where we can identify the person or agency responsible for the content. At Fold3's "About" page, we are told that it is now an Ancestry site. 

The last paragraph above turns the issue around from the direction in which you approached it. As researchers, we would not be expected to, say, leave the Fold3 website and go to an outside website of an alleged owner to see if it does indeed list Fold3 somewhere in its corporate data. Publishers and corporate authors of both print and digital materials go through many corporate changes. What we cite is the author or publisher identified on the book's title page—or on the site at the time we use it.

The complication that occurs specifically with Fold3 is demonstrated in QuickLesson 3. There, as you will note, some of the embedded images prominently display the logo, although the image today must be accessed at the Fold3 site. Situations such as that do require our citation to note the corporate change.

So, I think the answer might have changed since 2012. Now,, LLC, is a holding company. It owns,, and it even owns So because it's a holding company, when we cite, or, we don't have to mention, LLC in the citation..........right?



Ah, yes, Kati. Much has changed since 2012 in the world of online content—which is why EE went through another substantial revision in 2015, with over half of its pages revised.  And, true to form, in the three months that the new edition was in the final editing-and-printing stage, new changes kept right on occurring at Ancestry and elsewhere. EE3, as you will have noticed, continues to identify Ancestry's website by its longstanding name, However, while EE3 was being printed, the website's name was shortened to, simply, Ancestry.  (Fold3, of course, has always been just Fold3. The website name does not include .com.)

As for your explicit question: Yes. Your conclusion is correct. EE discusses the "principle of redundant identification" in several passages, including these four (to which I've added emphasis below):

"For the Source List Entry above, the company is cited as author/creator, in order to place the entry alphabetically in the Source List under the name of the company. In the First Reference Note, no author is cited because the creator’s identity is part of the publication title. Repetition there is unnecessary.

"The owner or creator of the original records will ordinarily be cited as the author/creator of the filmed records. If the title of the filmed collection contains the name of the congregation or diocese that is the creator and owner, then it is not necessary to create an author/creator field to repeat that identity."

"NARA’s website carries the agency name as the website name. You do not need to repeat it in the author field, although you may, if you wish."

"Above, nothing is entered in the field for the website’s creator-owner. The name of the society is identified as part of the [online] newsletter’s name. Citing it again as the creator of its own website would be redundant.

Playing devil's advocate. Unlike a book or a Journal when a website is sold the "creator" changes.  I am wondering if  there is a need to have different categories of websites. For example websites that are bought and sold verses ones that are not.


It's a puzzle, and that's why "Citation is an art, not a science."(1) :)

1. Mills, Elizabeth Shown. "Art vs. Science," Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. 2nd ed. (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing, 2009), 41.

Ann, practically speaking, how would a historical researcher determine any given website was "bought and sold"? Of the many millions of websites out there, the variety of ways in which they are owned go beyond anything that a historical researcher would want to deal with or should have to be concerned with.

Submitted byEEon Tue, 06/05/2012 - 19:43

Ann, you've picked an excellent example for demonstrating why citations to original records cause so many headaches. EE will address your issues individually:

Missing volume number:

In your working notes, yes, it would be a good idea to explain how you determined that the record book is Book H. As with most record books, it's not on the page image; and, as you point out, this record book is split over two rolls of film and one cannot identify the book by going back to the start of the film. If you need to retrace your steps at a later date, after your memory of this record has gone cold, you will be glad that you recorded those steps. At publication stage, however, you or your editor will likely omit that "working detail" from the final citation.
Database entry vs. citation:
You state (wisely) your intent "to cite the record and not the index." However, your proposed citation does not make clear that distinction. EE would add a bit here and there, as per the underlining below (which you would not reproduce, of course):
"Minnesota, County Marriages, 1860-1949," database and digital images, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 December 2011), image copy, marriage of Hubert Dreissen and Catherine Born, 10 November 1896, Carver County Marriages, Vol. H, p. 195, no. 1946; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,434,898. [Add your explanation of how you identified the volume.]

Use of "Citing...":

You are right, you would not say what FamilySearch is citing, unless you are copying its cataloging identification. If you are eyeballing an image of the original, you are creating your own identification. For clarity, to explain why the FHL film number is included, you might preface it with the words "imaged from ...".

I'm curious as to your use of the phrase "image copy" in the citation. I've seen various descriptives, such as "online image", "digital image", or just "image." Is there some important distinction between these??

Submitted byEEon Sun, 06/17/2012 - 11:28

Adescendant, there is not a significant difference. The critical issue is that we note whether we used an image of the original record or a database abstract. In the early days of digital citations, "online image" was used because many researchers did not recognize online citations as such. Today, it's unnecessary.