FamilySearch deed records


Can you please tell me if I am on the right track with these citations?  I'm working off EE pages 500-501.  This is a multi-volume series.  One county, with books covering different ranges of years.  Pretty typical.  I do a ton of land deed research and I am trying to streamline my citations so I can quickly enter data into RootsMagic.  I had to edit a template, and if this works I should be on easy street.  Hopefully you can quickly find the record I am pointing to in the footnote entry.  I wasn't sure if I needed to add a "citing..." line to this entry or not.  As in:  "citing original records at the Houston County courthouse in Perry, Georgia.  Thanks!


Footnote: Houston County, Georgia, Deeds v. I 1846-1850, pp. 160-161, John F. McLeod to Priscilla Nixon, 22 January 1846; database with images, "Deeds, 1822-1901; index, 1823-1943," FamilySearch, ( : accessed 29 November 2022).

Short footnote: Houston County, Georgia, Deeds v. I 1846-1850: pp. 160-161.

Bibliography: Georgia. Houston County. "Deeds, 1822-1901; index, 1823-1943". FamilySearch,

Submitted byEEon Tue, 11/29/2022 - 19:46

Hello, spcchap. Thanks for citing the model you’re working from.  You’ve captured the basics for citing the original register; but the switch from citing microfilm to citing online images is a bit more involved.  First I’ll edit your reference note and then discuss each point:

Houston County, Georgia, Deeds v.I 1846-1850 Deed Record I[1846-–1850], pp. 160–61, John F. McLeod to Priscilla Nixon, 22 January 1846; database with images, "Deeds, 1822-1901; index, 1823-1943," imaged, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 November 2022) > digital film 7897153 > image 113.

Identification of the volume:
When we use an imaged courthouse register, we should identify that register exactly as it appears on its cover or spine. The wording you use to identify the book is copied from the Family History Library’s catalog entry used at the FamilySearch website—generic wording that FHL has created for its own internal use. EE 2.27 applies here: “Be aware ... that the FHL catalog description frequently uses a generic label to describe the contents of an entire roll. The actual title of a specific register or file may not appear in the cataloging entry.”

The volume you are using was created by the Houston County ordinary's office and it was named by the Houston County ordinary's office. That's how it has to be identified. If someone in Houston County were to go to the courthouse and seek that register, they might or might not be able to find it from the wording used by the catalog entry. If they were at the Georgia State Archives using the microfilm, they might or might not have a problem locating the exact volume.  In this specific case, the difference in wording is slight; but many courthouses have multiple series with closely similar wording. To ensure that the right register is located when someone uses our citation, we copy the wording exactly as it appears on the cover or spine of the courthouse register. (Image 6 of the film you are using.)

Regarding the dates, you’ll notice from the imaged cover that no dates appear on the spine. If we add the dates, then we should put those dates in square editorial brackets. 

As a totally different issue: you may have noticed one other alteration in the identification of the register's title.  When we are using a sans-serif font, the capital letter I is often misread as a 1.  To avoid this problem, we might (as I've done above) use a serif font for that one volume number.

“Database with images, …”

The microfilm you are using is imaged by FamilySearch but it is not in a FamilySearch database.  Again, the phrase that you put into quotation marks (“Deeds, 1822-1901; index, 1823-1943”) is FHL cataloging data for that one roll of microfilm. If you go to > Search > Records,  then scroll down to “Find a Collection,” and type in that set of words, you will get no hits because no such collection or database has been created by FamilySearch. (From another standpoint, we can also tell that “Deeds, 1822-1901; index, 1823-1943” would not be a collection/database title because it is far too generic. There’s no location information to tell us where in the world those deeds would be.)

URL & Path

For a mammoth site such as FamilySearch, if we use just the root URL, most users of our citation would not know how to get from there to the actual record. A full URL is needed. In the specific item field of the second layer, where the website is cited, we should also identify the film number and image number.

The final results, cleaned up, would be this:

Houston County, Georgia, Deed Record I[1846–1850], pp. 160–61, John F. McLeod to Priscilla Nixon, 22 January 1846; imaged, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 November 2022) > digital film 7897153 > image 113.

Shortened Reference Note:

Your format is correct but, again, use the exact title of the volume, not the FHL cataloging data.

Source List Entry:

As you’ve probably figured out by now, your Source List Entry also has a problem because, again, you are identifying a courthouse record with wording created by FHL’s cataloging staff.

The exact wording of your Source List Entry will depend upon the exact records that you use from that courthouse. If you use just one deed register, then you would cite that deed register exactly. If you use multiple volumes of the Houston County deeds, then you would cite the deed series generically and state the time frame.  To adapt the “microfilm” citation from EE 10.6 (p. 500), the result for citing one volume would be this:

Georgia. Houston County, Deed Record I, 1846–1850. Imaged. FamilySearch. Digital film 7897153. 2022.

However, if we use multiple registers we have a problem citing FamilySearch online images because there could be dozens of films to cite for a range of years and at FamilySearch a range of film will often not have consecutive numbers that could be cited as simply xxxxxxx–xxxxxxy.  In the example I’m using below, there would be twenty-one or so digital film. The simplest way to present them would be to generically cite the range of volumes and the range of years; then, for the FamilySearch portion of the citation, cite the URL to the cataloging page where all of the volumes are itemized.

Georgia. Houston County. Deed Records A–Z, 1822–1895. Imaged. FamilySearch. 2022.





Submitted byspcchapon Wed, 11/30/2022 - 05:38

Thank you so much!  A few clarifying questions, if I may:


1.  I believe a light finally went off in my head around "images" versus "database with images".  What I am sourcing here is simply a photocopy duplication of a deed book.  There's nothing "searchable" about it - hence no database.  On the other hand, if I was referencing a probate record on Ancestry, it would be a database with images because there is a database (i.e., "Georgia, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992") which would allow me to search for a specific record.  Is that correct?


2.  As for the ARK address above, I see you pointed to the very first page of the deed volume itself (image 7), and NOT the first page of the image set (image 1).  I assume that was by design, and something I should replicate on all ARK addresses in similar circumstances as these deed books?


3.  Speaking of ARK addresses, the address I see for the same image is:


It's the same as yours up to (but not including) the question mark.  Is that how I reference all ARK addresses?  Up to but not including the question mark?  My longer address takes me to the same image, but I imagine the additional characters are somehow extraneous?


4.  If I do not include the years covered by the deed volume in my first reference (because they are not on the spine of the original book), it appears that I still need to include them in the Source List entry?  I noticed yours did not include the brackets.  


Thanks again!

Submitted byEEon Wed, 11/30/2022 - 09:04

Spcchap, that's what we're here for: to turn on the light.

1. Yes.

2-3. Yes, for image 113, it should be

3. Yes, in most cases we can drop the question mark and everything after it. Once done, it's best to test it in a different browser to see it if brings up the desired page. (Pasting it in the same browser, of course would bring up the cached page.)

4. A Source List Entry is almost always generic. We cite a book, but not the specific page. We cite a collection, but not each specific document. Etc. Therefore, for a courthouse series, we cite the series, the range of volumes we've used, and/or the time frame. (EE 2.49–2.51)