Document categories questions

Sorry this is so long. After reading thru some of the QuickLesson's and searching the forum, I realize I may be doing some of my citations incorrectly.

Census - I have been citing the census year, state, county, page, person(s), repository as FamilySearch. From my reading I should also be citing the database at FamilySearch not just them as a repository? The same for other documents (i.e. marriage record, wills, deeds, etc) obtained from FamilySearch?

Also, I am not sure how to handle original documents that are in my/our possession. I am referring here to things like my and my husbands birth certificates, marriage certificate, etc.

My birth certificate is a photocopy of form a filed in by hand from the state of SC with a stamp stating that it a certified copy of the original certificate on file in the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the SC State Board of Health. Since this came from the state, it would be a state issued document if I'm reading things right. Is repository the state of SC or personal files? At some point not too long after my parents used it to get my SS # and card, they let me have it and I kept it various places over the years. If personal files is OK, do I need date of transfer to my custody?

My (decorative) "Certificate of Birth" issued by the hospital where I was born would be handled as an artifact?

A similar question with my husbands birth certificate. The difference is that his mother obtained it from the local County Health Dept. (KY). The form was filled out on a typewriter and on the back is a note signed by the "Special Agent US Public Health Service, County Health Dept., "I [name] certify that this is true copy of a copy on file in the Harrison County Health Department" but with no date. My husband's mother kept this with her papers for a number of years and at some point (unremembered) gave it to my husband. Since this was obtained at the local county level it would be cited as a local government document and not a state document even though it has "Commonwealth of Kentucky" on the form? Do I need info about it passing from mother to son, etc? Repository county? state? personal files?

More recently, my husband obtained a new birth certificate (different format of course) directly from the state of KY; this would be handled as a state level document. State as repository? Anything else required?

The marriage certificate we received a few weeks after our marriage. It is a form with blanks filled in (dot matrix printer it looks like) with with names and dates taken from the License and what the minister sent to the County Clerk and notes the book and page this information can be found and states it is "a true and accurate record of the marriage license as recorded...". Since this is not the license itself (which has much more information) is it treated as an artifact? County level document? Certified extract of a county level document by a county official?

The "Certificate of Person Performing Marriage Ceremony" that the minister gave us would be an artifact?

Genealogy programs that use EE principles for templates to help you cite sources seem to have somewhat different ways of breaking them down into categories.

Submitted byEEon Fri, 10/01/2021 - 13:04

AnnaR, there are a lot of issues to unpack above. We could end up with 10-15 pages of discussion here.  Let me begin by asking which edition of EE you have. That way I can direct you to the relevant EE passages you may not have seen yet.

After you've read the foundational instruction that EE provides, we can discuss any basics that might be unclear or any out-of-the-ordinary situations you might have. 

If you're working solely from templates in your software, without EE itself, then your questions would be best addressed in a forum for your particular software. Numerous software developers have created templates based on their interpretation of EE and each have their own modifications.

EE (the book) provides a solid foundation for the principles of citation and evidence analysis. It offers more than a thousand examples of different record types, along with instruction on how to identify critical elements needed to  relocate those sources and to evaluate the reliability of each source.  EE (the website) offers thousands of pages of supplemental instruction.  But I cannot answer questions about the templates within specific software or how the developers intended them to be used.


Submitted byAnnaR.on Sun, 10/03/2021 - 06:45

I don't have the book; just what is available on the website and in the forums.

On census's etc, I had been listing FamilySearch as a repository; apparently I need to go back and add the database the items came from.

I have a couple of programs but am testing trial versions of others to check out their features; that's how I know they handle the citation categories differently which just adds to the confusion.


Submitted byEEon Sun, 10/03/2021 - 10:28

AnnaR, if EE is not affordable for you right now (the Kindle version, incidentally, is priced at half the cost of the hardback), have you checked with a local library to see if its copy of EE can be checked out?

You really need the basic instruction provided within the QuickStart Guide and the first two chapters: "Fundamentals of Evidence Analysis" and "Fundamentals of Citation."  Otherwise,  you're flying blind when using templates in the various software.

Those 100 pages cover much of what you're asking. The material here at the website is supplemental. It's meant to be "continuing education" that builds upon the basics users get from EE.  It does offer, under "Sample Pages," images of almost 200 pages from the first edition (2007) of EE, including about 20 pages of basics from Chapters 1 and 2.

With regard to your specific question about using FamilySearch materials and whether it and similar websites are repositories:

  • EE 2.24 through 2.31 provides basic instruction for using FamilySearch materials, regardless of the type.  
  • EE 2.32 through 2.37 provides basic instruction for using online materials, regardless of type.  

As specific help for this one question, I'll paste in here EE 2.32, which appears on pp. 57 and 58, but please scroll through to the end of this message.


I also need to be candid here, AnnaR. There are not enough hours in the day or days in the week for one lone person answering queries in this forum (yours truly), to teach the basics, individually, to every new researcher.

I do try to make the time in this forum to answer questions from EE users who don't understand a point or have a quirky situation that even the 992 pages of EE does not cover. But the reason that EE was created in the first place was because it was humanly impossible to respond to all the questions that came into each day's e-mail from decades of past-and-current students and other researchers. The years of work that went into EE was meant to provide, to anyone and everyone, at any time, what I cannot personally provide.

Best wishes,


Submitted byAnnaR.on Sun, 10/03/2021 - 12:50

I thank you for the time and those 2 pages; they clear up quite a few things about citing FamilySearch (or other online databases).

Looking at the software trials, etc. I have gotten, it looks like some give no templates at all. Legacy may have the easiest categories with drop down menu breakdowns (at least for me) while Roots Magic has the most definitions of each item and even references EE quite often.

I'll see what I can do about obtaining some version of at least the first chapters you mention.

Thank you again.