Confusion on Subsequent Notes

I'm starting to create subsequent notes for many of my full references. There's something I'm not clear on while reading the examples for many of the different records. When creating a subsequent note for lets say an online baptism found on ancestry, are you putting in the subsequent note where the original record can be found? or are you simply just restating what the record is for from the first reference? 

This is my working citation:

Full reference note:

"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," image, familysearch  ( : accessed 1 October 2020), baptism entry for James, 27 June 1827, Leigh, Lancashire; citing Lancashire Record Office, Preston.

Subsequent Note:

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” image baptism entry for James Partington, 27 June 1827, Leigh, Lancashire.

I was confused because of the example given on page 476, for England records founds online. In the full reference it cites Surry, County to where the original record is held. The subsequent note given for it lists Surry County.

If that is the case would my second note then be:

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” image baptism entry for James Partington, Preston,1827.


Another example I followed was for a U.K census, based on the quick sheet example:

“1841 Census of England,” Lancashire, Winwick, enumeration district 12, p. 5, occupation entry for David Partington laborer, and Mary Partington silk weaver; image, Ancestry ( : accessed 1 October 2020); citing The National Archives of the United Kingdom, HO 107, piece 524, folio 6, page 5, book 5.

“1841 Census of England,” Lancashire, Winwick, p. 5, David Partington laborer and Mary Partington, silk weaver.


I hope I make sense in my questioning, it can be tricky with all the different examples, exactly how your suppose to format the subsequent note. 

Submitted byEEon Wed, 05/12/2021 - 09:54

Good morning, Tower19.

To clarify things, let’s start with the EE example you cite, from p. 476. You state:

“I was confused because … in the full reference it cites Surry, County to where the original record is held. The subsequent note given for it lists Surry County.”

This is the text you are referencing:

In both cases, the example cites “Surrey County.” I’m not seeing the difference that you are seeing.

Beyond this, you are asking whether you should cite “Leigh” or “Preston” as the place name for the baptism.  I am handicapped in answering you because, using your citation details, I have found the database entry for James Partington’s baptism but not the image that you reference. The image should enable us to see exactly what is written in the register and on the cover. From the database entry, we can only cite what is put into the database.

To go back to basics: three things need to be considered in the Full Reference Note.

  1. We need to identify the location of the baptism.
  2. We need to identify whatever path or search terms used by the database, because that’s how we locate the record within the database.
  3. We need to identify the location of the original—if the database provides that information.

Our Subsequent Note would normally identity point 1. (Exceptions can always exist, but I won’t confuse the issue here and now.)

In this case, I began by searching for the collection title at FamilySearch’s main search screen. The collection was easily found. It gave me another search screen into which I put the details in your first “working citation.”  That screen did not call for place of baptism; rather it called for “birthplace.” I entered “Leigh.”  This is the result:


I tried again, using “Preston” for the birthplace and got this result:



Inexplicably (at least going by this results page alone), even though I used “Preston” for the birthplace in the query box, the result does not include Preston at all. It cites the “location” as “Leigh, Lancashire, England.” What this tells us is that, if our citation relies on using the query box, then we must cite both Preston and Leigh.

The results yielded by our search for “Preston” does include an icon offering a link to the image.  However, when I click that, I do not get the image. I get only the database entry with the extraction made by FamilySearch:


We now have another database entry—i.e., another page of extracted data. Two things are notable here:

  • "Preston" is not identified in this extraction, even though that locale was needed in order to locate the record through the query box for that collection title.
  • The image is blurred out. When we click it, we are given a whole roll of film to search frame by frame to find the record we seek.  (No, I did not proceed to do that. 😊)

That leads us to another consideration: If we are citing the image, we want our citation to lead to the document—not to a 431-image collection with no idea what image is the relevant one. If our query leads to a page such as this, it is the equivalent of citing a book for a specific fact but not saying where in that 431-page unindexed book the specific fact can be found; instead, we are asking the user of our citation to read the whole 431-page book to find the information for themselves.

This issue leads us to a different problem:  Different websites use a different organizational scheme, or framework, or process that we have to use to find a document. More complicated website providers, such as FamilySearch and Ancestry, may have several different organizational schemes, depending upon the complexity of the records or the format in which the record set came to them.  For example:

  • Sometimes (as in EE's p. 476 examples that you point to) we may be able to get to the document by using the homepage URL, the exact collection name, and the search terms. In that case, those details belong in our citation.
  • Sometimes, especially when a collection is not indexed but can be browsed, we get to the document by using the collection name and the path that takes us to the document. In that case, our citation needs to cite the URL of the collection and the waypoins along the path to go from that URL to the document.
  • Sometimes, the document has an ARK or a PAL citation that is supposed to be “permanent” and our citation can use that full URL to take the citation's user directly to the exact document.

Yes, this is a frustration for researchers. We want to spend our time gathering new information, not analyzing the website of the provider to determine what details we have to cite in order to find the record again. It would be wonderful if all references to UK births or baptisms could be adequately cited by using one simple format. But the wonderful blessings we enjoy, when we can access records digitally at our desktop instead of traveling to the archives, are offset by the complications of that delivery process. Until digital document delivery systems standardize themselves into one simple system, we are forced to think through all these issues. A citation formation for a generic type of record delivered by one provider may not work when that generic type of record is delivered by a different provider.

So … given the thoughts we’ve worked through above, can you reframe your citation so that it leads us to the exact image you’ve used?  Once that’s done—once those exact elements are determined—then we can discuss what’s essential for the shortened citation.

Submitted byTower19on Wed, 05/12/2021 - 16:59

Sorry for any misunderstandings, when you're trying to think out loud online things don’t always come across as you would like! 

I think my confusion on the Surrey citation was that I thought that part of the layer was telling you where the ORIGINAL is held and how to access it? That is why I wasn’t sure when you're creating a subsequent note if you're stating where the original record is. 

This is the image I’m citing of James’s baptism.

It's interesting that you could not find James in the database, although I see in the birthplace search you only had Leigh, when I put Leigh, Lancashire, he comes up(second down from top). When I do just Lancashire, he also comes up in the search, but not when you just put Leigh.

I wonder then how I have to write my citation so that someone knows the difference. What's confusing more is why familysearch is not recognizing just Leigh. This is why I simply just stated what collection he can be found in on the website. 


I’m not sure why Preston would come up, I’m citing Preston as to the place where the original is found according to Familysearch. When you bring up the image, and click on information on the bottom, it says it part of the Bishop Collection, and that its held at Lancashire Record Office

I’ll have to mull this one over and rework my citation, as much as its a pain, I find this is a good thing that I've potentially discovered that I may have been doing my citations wrong (I'm still very new at this).


Submitted byEEon Wed, 05/12/2021 - 21:08

Tower19, thanks for the additional data. It's late here, so I'll make a quick response now and then wait for your revised citation tomorrow. You wrote:

"I think my confusion on the Surrey citation was that I thought that part of the layer was telling you where the ORIGINAL is held and how to access it? That is why I wasn’t sure when you're creating a subsequent note if you're stating where the original record is. .

When we're using an online database or images, we have not gone to an archive to use those records. We did not order them from the archives. We usually know nothing about the archival situation. After using an online database or images, all we know about the location of the record is whatever the image provider says (which, unfortunately, does sometime err). That is why our citations to digital images have an additional layer, beginning with the word "citing ...." that records whatever the provider tells us about the origin or location of the original.

QuickLessons 25 and 26, here at this website, have more on the subject—using both Ancestry and FamilySearch—in case you have not discovered those already.

Submitted byTower19on Thu, 05/13/2021 - 12:02

So after thinking about it for awhile and reading QuickLesson 25 and 26 (which I have before but it doesn't hurt to read things over again) I have put together a couple of alternative citations. I'm thinking since searching by Leigh is not pointing someone to James in the database, if I change it to Lancashire it does. I also included the link to the actual image so that there's no misunderstanding what image I'm citing.

The one issue I see is, there's another James Partington with the same year of baptism that is different from my James, so would adding who is parents are clear things up? I was thinking you didn't have to add that kind of information if its stated in your writing. Someone who's reading my book is going to know who James's parents are so that is why I'm assuming (I'm finding out I can't assume! ) they would know which James there looking at. 

England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database with images, familysearch  ( : accessed 1 October 2020), James Partington 27 June 1827, birth location Lancashire County; citing Lancashire Record Office, Preston.

second option could be:

England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database with images, familysearch  ( : accessed 1 October 2020), James Partington, birth location Lancashire County, 1827, son of David and Mary Partington; citing Lancashire Record Office, Preston.

If either approach is acceptable then the shorten note would be:

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” James Partington 27 June 1827, Lancashire County.

Submitted byEEon Thu, 05/13/2021 - 14:21

Great job, Tower19.

Regarding whether you should include the names of parents, the issue there would be whether both James Partingtons were in the same county, same year. If so, then some further distinction has to be made in your citation. For example:

  • If both were in the same county but from different parishes/towns, then the more-specific location might be cited.
  • If both in the same county and same parish/town, then it would be logical to cite the date of the event as the distinguishing factor.

The Subsequent Note would then include the element added to make the distinction between the two.

Submitted byTower19on Fri, 05/14/2021 - 15:27

I do have one more question that came to mind about subsequent notes, I have a feeling I know the answer but wanted clarification. I use the 1851 England census a lot in my book for the same family, so everything about the census citation is the same with the exception of the subject of interest. 

In one paragraph I might state a person is a coal miner, so I cite that census. In another paragraph I might use another person's year or birth, all from the same family census, ect.

Am I treating each citation without a subsequent note because even though I'm using the same census the information is different or am I allowed to use the same shorten note but with a different interest? If I understand correctly you only use subsequent notes if you are using the same exact citation again in your reference notes. 

Submitted byEEon Sat, 05/15/2021 - 07:54

Tower19, when you say "all from the same family census," I'm assuming you mean the same household entry that you've already cited. Once you cite that household, then a subsequent reference to that household's census data for that same year and place, will be a shortened citation. It does not matter whether you are citing the occupation shown for the father, literacy data for a child, an age for the mother, or whatever. Those pieces of data all come from that same household entry that you've already cited in full; therefore you can use a shortened form for the Subsequent Note.

Look at it this way: If you were citing a book about World War I, and you first reference something the author wrote about the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, then later you discuss something the author wrote about the Battle of Liège, would you feel it necessary to do a full citation to the book the second time because you are citing different data?  No. You cite the book once and, from that point on, for whatever information you take from that book, you would use a shortened citation.