1841 England Census and "the art" of working with my program

Hello! I am a brand new EE3 owner...had it about a week. Read Ch. 1-2 and will do so again but decided to have a look at a source I was currently using...the 1841 England Census via FindMyPast. And to be clear, I view the actual digital images, I do not use the provided "transcription."

The following is the draft of what I came up with in studying Ch. 6 and applying it to what I was using:

1841 census of England, Yorkshire, Harwood Dale, p. 1 (stamped), lines 19-23, Harwood-dale Mill, John Hunter household; image, "1841 England, Wales & Scotland Census", FindMyPast (www.findmypast.com : accessed 05 November 2015); citing [The National Archives of the UK], HO 107, piece 1265, book 4, folio 3.

So, first question...am I on the right track?

Now, step 2 is getting these citations into my genealogy program (RootsMagic). I do *NOT* use the built-in templates! (Sadly, they do not export to gedcom well at all.) So my question is NOT about filling out any of the templates or which template to use.

I can enter the draft above as a free-form source. The issue is that I would essentially have a "Master Source" for each household and I would have a huge bibliography/source list (if used) because RM does not remove duplicate identical biblio entries. So ideally, I want to set things up where I can have one "Master Source" per County.

In reading section 6.2, it says: "in many data-management programs, data entry is more efficient if the identities of the individual and household are placed at the end of the citation." 

So, can I take that to mean that some leniency is allowed (art rather than science!) in how we arrange items to work around the shortcomings of our software programs?

For example, here is my result based on the input shown in a picture linked below:

1841 census of England, Yorkshire; image, "1841 England, Wales & Scotland Census", FindMyPast (www.findmypast.com : accessed 06 November 2015); citing [The National Archives of the UK] HO 107/1265/4, folio 3, Harwood Dale, p. 1 (stamped), lines 19-23, Harwood-dale Mill, John Hunter household.

Picture showing my input:  http://i.imgur.com/lzsNUb0.jpg

(I do realize that FindMyPast should be in italics. I would need to add the html code around them and verify how it exports/imports via gedcom to another program.)

This approach gives me the behavior I desire in my program...one "Master Source" per county so that my bibliography does not exponentially increase.  But is it appropriate? The transposition of some of the elements? In terms of working with or working around a software program, is this acceptable?

Sorry for the length. I hope I am mainly on the right track.

Submitted byEEon Thu, 11/12/2015 - 13:25

niteowl1851, following 2.46–52, you can put as much or as little into your “master source” as you wish. You can arrange your "labels" so that they alphabetize by locale, by subject, by authors or titles, etc.  This section does not illustrate arranging source list items by date because that would be problematic in most cases. However, doing so for common censuses does seem ‘natural’ and no one would fault you for putting the date first so that your software automatically arranges your censuses by date rather than place.

When our software insists upon making each census citation a “master source,” it’s often easier to cite the census database in Layer 1, then cite the original image in Layer 2.  To quote from the new QuickStart Guide in EE3: “Layered citations are mix-and-match. For example: If we need to feature the website, rather than the document, we can reverse the layers.”


Submitted byniteowl1851on Fri, 11/13/2015 - 11:28

Thank you. I will revisit those sections along with 2.33 (Citation layers).  I think I tend to lead my citation/footnote with "1841 Census" because that is also how I like to name my master sources in RM. However, I do actually have the "Bibliography"/Source List for this example leading off as "England, Yorkshire. 1841 Census." followed by the collection title.

In terms of the actual citation/reference note:

1841 census of England, Yorkshire; image, "1841 England, Wales & Scotland Census", FindMyPast (www.findmypast.com : accessed 06 November 2015); citing [The National Archives of the UK] HO 107/1265/4, folio 3, Harwood Dale, p. 1 (stamped), lines 19-23, Harwood-dale Mill, John Hunter household.

I did not follow 6.51 exactly. In your Findmypast examples, you refer to the generic "Census, Land & Substitutes" category. I actually almost never use that "category" and instead I always go to the "A to Z record set" listing and choose the "1841 England, Wales & Scotland Census" resource. I like to restrict my search as much as possible to preclude unwanted results.

I used the "First Reference Note" on page 305 as my primary example, but changing the "collection title" and order of elements based on working with my program.

In evaluating the citation/reference note as I have it above, you would say I have the database citation first and the original census second, right?

Thanks for your help!

Submitted byEEon Sun, 11/15/2015 - 14:52


Many census citations do begin with the year and the locale—including quite a few EE examples. Some may question whether it is necessary to cite the census generically first, then given the database title that also begins "1841 England ... Census." If you were writing for a journal or another publisher, the redundancy would definitely be addressed. But, if your software insists that your first few words of your citation must match the wording of your master source, then your approach above is an effective workaround.

EE's primary concern is that the identifying details for the actual census is split between Layers 1 and 3 in your citation. Yorkshire is in Layer 1 while Harwood-dale Mill is in Layer 3. A basic rule for citing sources is that elements that naturally go together should stay together. If your citation were to be picked up by someone who used your work, and they decided to eliminate redundancy between Layers 1 and 2 by dropping the generic Layer 1, then part of the essential locale data would likely be dropped with it.

As for "following exactly," EE 2.1 says: "Citation is an art, not a science."  We do need to study the art to learn the essential principles, but then we recombine those essentials as necessary for each quirky source.

Submitted byniteowl1851on Tue, 11/17/2015 - 06:10

OK, I do see what you mean about the layers and the split places. I think I have come up with an appropriate citation now. I even have a custom template in RM that formats it as I desire. However, if I export to gedcom, I end up with some wrong and/or extra punctuation...but that is an RootsMagic issue.

Here is my hopefully final draft. I've also attempted to elimate the title duplication by simply starting with the database title. So here is the full footnote/citation:

"1841 England, Wales & Scotland Census," database with images, FindMyPast (http://www.findmypast.com : accessed 06 November 2015), entry for John Hunter [household], Harwood Dale, Yorkshire; citing [The National Archives of the UK] HO107/1265/4, folio 3, pg. 1 (stamped).

I did remove "Harwood Dale Mill" and "lines 19-23" from the citation. The place/address of "Harwood Dale Mill" will be in my transcription notes. And I considered leaving the line numbers in, but this is the only John Hunter family in Harwood Dale let alone on pg. 1.

As for the bibliography/source list, I currently have it formatted like this:

"1841 England, Wales & Scotland Census." Database with images. FindMyPast. http://www.findmypast.com : 2015.

I do hope I am finally on the right track. I have made a copy of my database and removed all sources from the copy with the intent of "doing it right!"

Submitted byEEon Tue, 11/17/2015 - 08:42

Niteowl, you've done a great job of thinking this through.  EE would recommend keeping the line number in. Even when there is just one person by that name in a locale, the line number is there for other reasons. For example, we often cite a census page on which we read a name correctly, because we well know the person, but to someone else the name might appear to be something different.  Also, by citing line numbers as well as page numbers, our citation gives some indication of proximity and distance between the various households we are citing from that census—thereby providing indirect evidence of  associations and kinship.

Submitted byniteowl1851on Tue, 11/17/2015 - 11:20

Thank you! Hopefully having had to work through this one and revise it a few times will help me with all the others to come!  At least the subsequent censuses in England will be very very similar!

I will reconsider re: line numbers. I am assuming I would keep them with the layer of the original source, ie. TNAUK...p. 1 (stamped), lines 19-23.

Yes, niteowl, when our citation details come from the original source (or its valid image), we keep all those details together in the layer for that original source. When our citation details come from the provider of the source, then those details go into a layer in which we say that the provider is "citing thus-and-such." 

Submitted byJadeon Wed, 11/18/2015 - 16:40

Regarding the line numbers: EE is quite right to refer to handwriting interpretation and location documentation.

Also if the script is not spectacularly clear and readable, if I were following up on your footnote I would be very grateful to be able to go right to your cited item.  Sometimes it appears to me that published writers forget to take readers' efforts into consideration.

Best wishes,


Submitted byniteowl1851on Fri, 11/20/2015 - 22:52

Just a very small update. I do have a custom template in RootsMagic I am using for the "1841 England, Wales & Scotland Census" title from FindMyPast and I do have it outputting the citation just as I wrote it above on the 17th (but with the line numbers added). So that is well.

The only tiny "gotcha" is that if the citation is exported to gedcom and then imported by another program, the punctuation changes slightly.  Instead of

(http://www.findmypast.com : viewed 06 Nov 2015), entry for xyz

it bcomes

(http://www.findmypast.com, viewed 06 Nov 2015); entry for xyz

(And it case it is hard to see, the colon between the url and viewed becomes a comma and the comma after the date) becomes a semi-colon.

I have decided to live with that possibility. Hopefully I will be on RootsMagic for a while! The only way to eliminate those changes to solely use free-form entries. The drawback to that is that the bibliography/source list would become useless because I would have multiple identical biblio entries and RM doesn't currently remove identical entries when generating the biblio, so it would be huge when generated.

Anyway, onward I go!

Submitted byEEon Mon, 11/23/2015 - 20:26

Yes, Niteowl, there are some punctuation differences in the "interpretation" done by each of the software that use EE citations.  We give advice when asked; but their own personnel construct their templates.