Cleaning Up Bad Citations

Do you ever have to do a ‘clean-up’ in your genealogy database? Whether you do or not, I know I do. I recently figured out that some of my citations did not ‘convert’ well when I moved my data from The Master Genealogist to Roots Magic. Thus, I have some ‘bad’ citations to clean up.

Even though I knew these bad citations existed in my database, I had no clue how to go about finding all of them. Thus, I posted a query in the RootsMagic Users Group on Facebook.

Although, it isn’t possible to create a report listing these citations, a kind user posted some steps to try and locate those hints.

You could enter the Source template a source is made from in the Master source Comments section. Enter the source template name or part of the source template name in Find everywhere as a search criteria. This report will give you the Master sources. It will not give you the people or facts the Master source is linked to.

Save the Find everywhere report. It saves as a .hmt file. Open the .hmt in a browser. Copy the file into the Windows clipboard and paste it into a text file.

The Source list report prints all Master sources or a selected Master source. The report doesn’t print the source template the Master source uses. If you check Citation details, the report prints the person’s name and where the Master Source is linked.

Create a Group of the people that have Master sources made from a Source template that is entered in the Master source comments.

Any fact, source, comment contains,

or Source (General), comment contains

or Source (Family), comment contains.

You can put the main view on Timeline and select each person in turn in the Group in the Sidebar. Click on the check mark in source column to open the Citation Manager for a Person, Spouse, or fact.

You can also click on the source icon above Spouses, Parents in the upper left of the main screen to see where a person has linked sources. Click on an item in the list to open that Citation manager.

I changed my Master source names to add the source type to the beginning of the name and standardize the way I entered the rest of the source name. It makes it easier to find a Master source of a certain type or create a Group. It took me awhile to finish it, but it was worth doing.

Birth – AR – Sebastian – 1877-1963 – Birth and Death – FamilySearch

Birth – CA – 1905-1995 – Birth Index – Ancestry

Birth – CA – 1905-1995 – Birth Index – FamilySearch

Funeral home – OK – Oklahoma – Oklahoma City – Bill Eisenhour Funeral Home, Web

Funeral home – TX – McLennan – Fall and Puckett Funeral Home

Marriage – IL – All – 1763-1900 – Statewide Marriage Index – Web

I divided elements of rhe source name with – to make it easier for me to read.

Where and how you enter information in RootsMagic determines what RootsMagic feature you can use to get that information back out of Rootsmagic.


Unfortunately, my bad citations are not based on one or two (or even a few number of) master sources, but individual sources. Thus, I can’t retrieve all of the erroneous citations without knowing who they are attached to.

So, I’m experimenting. I’ve identified two source templates with bad citations. One of those is _TMG_E-Mail Message. Using the hint above, I edited the source template to add the word ‘CITATION’ to the footnote template.

I then pulled down the SEARCH menu and selected FIND EVERYWHERE.

I put the word, ‘CITATION’ in the top line of the FIND EVERYWHERE box and clicked OK.

The resulting report shows the people and events with citations using this Source Template

This search identifies the sources and should help me find the people.
I tried creating a ‘marked group’ for anyone with a source footnote containing the word ‘CITATION’. That pulled up the sources using the _TMG_Ship Passenger Lists but NOT those sources using the _TMG_E-mail message template.

After some more help via Facebook, I modified my template to add TMG

I then used the mark group feature to ‘Select people by data fields’ and followed the suggestions received via FB.

Any fact – source – footnote contains – TMG

and any fact – source footnote contains – e-mail

That search produced a list of individuals that should have these badly formatted citations. Now, I can work thru this list of people and correct the citations.

As a work-around until I can get all of these citations corrected, I modified the Source Template. The original _TMG_E-Mail Message template used the following format:

[Author], TMG e-mail message from [AuthorE-Mail] ([Address]) to [Recipient]<, [Date]><, [CD]>.

Thus, it implied that all of these sources were based on an email message when they were actually county records. Therefore, I modified the template to the following:

<[Address]. ><[Cd].>

Below is an example of the resulting footnote:

Footnote: Leavenworth County Kansas. Vol. 33, page 633 (Curry.Notebook).

Even though this footnote is still incomplete, it is much better than how the template originally formatted it.

If it wasn’t for other users in the RootsMagic Users Group on Facebook, I wouldn’t have figured out how to begin resolving this citation issue.

Scroll, Click, Connect

Do you ever look at other trees on Ancestry? I know I do. I use them for hints. I also attach them as ‘sources’ so that I can get back to trees that match my ancestors.

However, I try not to add ‘new people’ from those trees to my tree. I also try to add additional sources to support the information in my tree. Some of those sources are obtained thru Ancestry and the hinting system.

However, some of my sources come from outside of Ancestry. Thus, when you search Ancestry’s Public Member Trees for someone in my tree, the number of sources attached to the individual will be shown.

When you go to the individual in the tree, the Ancestry sources will be shown first.

Only by scrolling down the page, will one find those ‘other sources’

Not only should one ‘SCROLL’ to find those ‘OTHER SOURCES’, one should also ‘CLICK’ on those sources.

Clicking, reveals the information from the source. When viewing the citation, please remember that the transcript on Ancestry does not have the paragraph returns and blank lines that were in the original transcription.

If you find these other sources and transcriptions helpful, be sure to use the MESSAGE button to connect with the tree owner. By working together, we can uncover more information about the people in our trees.

So —

  • Use Public Member Trees, 
  • Scroll thru and study the Sources, 
  • Click to View transcriptions and 
  • Message the tree owner to begin collaboration

FamilySearch Tree and Sources

What are your feelings regarding the FamilySearch tree? Do you dislike it because anyone can change anything? Or, do you like it because of the ability to collaborate?

Even though I get frustrated with unexplained changes that don’t fit my conclusions, I like the FamilySearch tree. I like it because it is the one of the places where collaboration happens. When someone else makes a change to one of my ancestors that doesn’t agree with my research, I see the opportunity to collaborate. When this happens, I will often add a discussion item either questioning the change or explaining my conclusion. I also use the messaging tool to contact the contributor and inquire about their sources and reasoning.

My first encounter with this was when someone changed the birthplace for James Crawford [M9X2-NWS] and added parents. I was ecstatic! Someone had found the parents of James Crawford. They even attached a source! However, when I started studying that source in relation to everything else we knew about James Crawford, I realized that the source was for a different James Crawford and not for my ancestor. I let my discussion post sit there for a while before removing the parents, the source and restoring James’ birth date and place.

Yesterday, I was reviewing changes to individuals I monitor on the FamilySearch tree and found where a sibling of my 2nd great grandmother, Emeline Minnick [K8K7-NHW], was removed from the family. It took me a while to figure out the changes, but Emeline’s brother was merged with another male of the same name and ended up in a different family.

As I was reviewing my data to see if I had Wilson J. Minnick [LV86-BFV] placed in the wrong family, I realized that I had more information about the family than was visible to others. I have sources in my RootsMagic data that aren’t on the FamilySearch tree. I’ve found that to be true of many people in my database: I have more sources than are on the FamilySearch tree.

 RootsMagic has the capability to transfer my sources to FamilySearch. So why aren’t those sources attached? For me, I have a

  • hesitancy to add source because I don’t know how to tag it (Name, Gender, Birth, Christening, Death, Burial). Many of my sources place a person in a particular place at a particular time and have nothing to do with their birth or death. 
  • hesitancy to add source because I don’t know what is expected in the ‘reason to attach source’ box
  • reluctance to spend the time. I would rather be researching than adding sources to the FamilySearch tree.

Because of my reluctance to upload my sources to the FamilySearch tree, I know have to figure out how to separate two families that have been merged.

Thus, I’m plan to not worry as much about whether my reason for attaching a source is good enough and to spend more time uploading sources.