Pennsylvania Land Warrant Loose Papers

I am struggling with identifying the original source for Pennsylvania land warrant loose papers that are available on FamilySearch, microfilmed in Harrisburg, PA, in 1975.

The notes for "Application for warrants, 1734-1865" from the Pennsylvania Land Office indicate these images are a "microreproduction of original ms." No reference to the Pennsylvania State Archives record group is provided. The microfilms do include a title card showing "PENN - 00009 Roll No. [various numbers]" and another showing "Applications for Warrants[,] Loose Papers Plastic Covered Copy."

The Pennsylvania State Archives preferred citations should include "item, series title, series number, Record or Manuscript Group title, RG or MG number, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg," none of which is available on FamilySearch. I believe I have identified the original source information on the Pennsylvania State Archives website. I am unsure how to confirm this using the limited info from the microfilm. 

The description for "Applications for Warrants, 1734-1952" states that this series includes laminated, original loose applications, which is consistent with the FamilySearch microfilm series. When I drill down and view specific cartons within this series, the notes do include a microfilm reference. For example, Carton 2, item # A1000970, for the time period 9 August 1750-29 December 1753 is available on microfilm LO 7.5-20: 28-101.

Am I spinning my wheels? Is there a better way to confirm I have the correct original source?

Submitted byEEon Wed, 02/01/2023 - 11:02

Kristina, cases like this—where we cannot identify the original source for ourselves— are why we use a "citing ..." layer to report what our provider says about its source. Sometime, from the images themselves, we can fully identify the original.  If that's possible, we do it. Many times, we cannot. In those cases, we use the "citing ..." layer to report whatever details our provider gives us that will help us locate the original record set, if and when needed.

Remember the basic rule: We cite what we use.  If we did not use the original record set in the archive that holds it, then using online catalogs to create a citation to an archive and its organizational scheme is risky and can mislead both us and those who read our citation. Archives regularly have record sets that are very similar in their labels and time frames. We may find an online description of one and decide "it seems right" without knowing that another similarly titled record set also exists.

In this case, you're using a set of loose papers that carry an identification on the film that introduces them.  That's what you cite: what you see. Specifically:

Layer 1. Create a citation to the loose papers in standard form for that type of record, using the identification that you see within the film itself;

Layer 2. Cite: FamilySearch (URL : date) > digital film no. ___ > image no. ____.

Layer 3. Add:  citing .... [whatever additional details you glean from the Family Search catalog description that you feel are helpful]. 

Thank you. That was how I created my initial citation to the record. Trying to find the original source has sent me down a four-hour rabbit hole for a single document. This is what I have been able to determine:

Layer 1: Michael Clever's warrant, 10 May 1751; Pennsylvania Applications for Warrants, loose papers, Bureau of Land Records, Dauphin County

Layer 2: images, FamilySearch ( accessed 2 February 2023); DGS 8694718, image 76 of 560

Layer 3: citing Pennsylvania States Archives, Harrisburg

Submitted byEEon Wed, 02/01/2023 - 18:55

Kristina, three key suggestions:

1. Semi-colons are the punctuation that separate layers. Your Layer 1 has an internal semicolon, thereby creating four layers of which the details for the original item, which should be in Layer 1, are subdivided into two separate layers.

2. Almost all citation forms begin with the creator of the material we are citing. In this case, the creator of the record set (as presented on this film's target) seems to be Pennsylvania Bureau of Land Records. After citing the creator, we identify what that creator created, then we identify where the essential information is, then we identify what that information is that we're looking for at that spot.  (Compare this to a standard book citation, short form: Creator, Title of Book, page, specific item on the page.)

3. Because FamilySearch has digitized film created by the archive that holds the records, and the FamilySearch images identify that prior film, we should include that identification in our "Citing" layer.

All things consolidated, the three layers (which I've colored differently below) would be this:

Pennsylvania Bureau of Land Records, Dauphin County Applications for Warrants, 1751–, loose papers, chronologically arranged, Michael Clever warrant, 10 May 1751; imaged, FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 February 2023) > digital film 008694718 > image 76 of 450; citing "Penn-0009, Roll No. 4," Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg.

Submitted byKristinaCleveron Thu, 02/02/2023 - 08:03
As I continue to review research I did in my baby genealogist days, I see things I didn't pay attention to. Growth is great! This gives me new food for thought. The original warrants were held in Dauphin County, but the warrants included several different counties. Later loose files were arranged alphabetically, but the 1751 records are arranged by date issued. I have made a habit of including both the URL and the digital film number but had not used waypoints. Yay, for learning better ways to format citations. FamilySearch notes the digitized microfilms as "Image Group Number (DGS)." Is using "digital film" the usual standard?

Kristina, yes, for the time period you are working, the batch is chronological. The essential point here is this: When a batch of items are not numbered, or a bound book is not paginated, we need to specify how the record is located.

Re digital film 8695718 versus  DGS 8695718 versus  Image Group Number (DGS) 8694718:

All are used in various literature by FamilySearch. Above each image on the film you've cited, you'll note that the term used by FamilySearch is a fourth option Film # 008694718. (See SnagIt below). Several considerations exist here:

  • If we use just DGS 8694718 then we're using an acronym that most readers will not understand without the full explanation.
  • Using the full explanation plus DGS plus the number is wordy. The same issue existed when the material we used was FHL microfilm. As EE notes at 2.57, when citing FHL microfilm in a piece of writing (research report, bio, case study etc.), we would at first usage use the full library name with the acronym in parentheses; thereafter, we could use simply the acronym in that piece of writing. With "FHL" this posed few problems because the acronym had been in use for so long that it was familiar to almost all history researchers. Now, if we use just DGS 8694718, most researchers will not know what it means.
  • Using Image Group Number (DGS) is even more confusing because the acronym (DGS) does not match the explanation whose initials are IGN.

At this point in time, the clearest way to cite the two types of images that FamilySearch offers would be

  • digital film 8694718 
  • microfilm 1234567

As an alternative, digital group 8694718 would also be a clear identification.

Submitted byKristinaCleveron Thu, 02/02/2023 - 10:35

Elizabeth, thank you so much for walking me through the process. This now poses a new question.

The Family History Library has now been renamed FamilySearch Library. The Family History Centers have now been renamed FamilySearch Centers ( What do you recommend for the new acronym?

Kristina, I have reservations about using an acronym until the world gets used to it being renamed. FamilySearch Library is short enough to not need an acronym. If we're citing digital or microfilm, then we don't have to include Library. We can simply say FamilySearch digital film 12345678.

Submitted bycwhermann28on Sun, 02/05/2023 - 21:12

I am seeking guidance/clarification on a couple of points.

  • when should the microfilm number should be include in the reference note?
  • waypoints vs full links directly to the image

Toward the end of the thread in a previous post, Citing FamilySearch image only available by browsing film, EE suggested the following citation.

Latah County, Idaho, Deed Book 12, p. 351, Carry and Wm N Gibb to George Clewly, 1 August 1892; imaged at FamilySearch (https:/ : accessed 7 September 2020) > digital film 8578270 > image 258 of 835; imaged from Family History Library film 1535276.

Ignoring the possibility of updating the last layer to imaged from microfilm 1535276, in this thread, I noticed the use of both the full link directly to the image and the use of waypoints.  I thought the waypoints were to provide a path to the image from a landing page where the path begins. If the link goes directly to the image, are the waypoints necessary?  Or if we used waypoints wouldn't the link be to the web page where a person would begin enter the way points?

I also noticed in the suggestions in this thread, the microfilm number is not referenced.

I looked up digital film 8694718 Kristina cited and confirmed it is imaged from microfilm number 984127.  In this case it appears the digital film is of the entire microfilm, so referencing either one in the waypoint path would get to the same set of images, but often digital film numbers will be images from a portion of a given microfilm number.  For example, microfilm 123456, item 3 may be on one digital film number and items 1, 2 and 4 of the same microfilm number may be on one or more different digital film number(s).  Of course adding the microfilm number would add an additional layer to the reference note.

Using an example in QuickLesson 25 as a guide, one could create the waypoints as: > digital film 8578270 (microfilm 1535276, item X) > image 258 of 835 and thus avoiding the need for an additional layer.

Not knowing where the technology (or website design for FamilySearch) will take us, I think it is important to provide both the digital film number and the microfilm number.

I prefer to include the direct URL as well the waypoints (digit film # > image # of #) for two reasons. (1) Having the direct URL is quick and convenient if I want to look at the record again in the future. (2) I have sometimes copied and pasted the URL incorrectly, so having a way to get back to the correct image can be helpful.