Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Deeper Look at Sources in the FamilySearch Family Tree

Please note the comments to this post for additional clarification on the International Genealogical Index. 

Since the introduction of the Family Tree, adding sources has been a prominent issue. Presently, there are several types of "sources" that are showing up in the Source section of various individuals on the Family Tree. The first and most common categorization of the sources is the differentiation between sources originating in the website and those coming from outside the website. The source entries on an individual's Details page show two different icons reflecting the origin of the source information. Here is a screenshot show the FamilySearch icons that look like trees (sort-of) and the world icon meaning the source originates in another third-party website.
Hmm. You might notice the fact that sources added from the Family Tree are noted as having the "Title Unavailable." That is another one of the program errors. These were validly attached sources from FamilySearch, but for some reason they are no longer linked in a way to insert the title to the collection. My guess is that the titles will return sometime in the future.

The next category of sources is called "Legacy NFS Source." Here is a screenshot:
You can see that is considered to be an "outside" source. Here is a expanded view of one of these Legacy Sources:

This particular source brings up a number of questions. The information in this entry came from a "user-supplied" source citation. But this entry also points out an important fact about the sources being added to the Family Tree. Not all of these sources are, in reality, sources. In this case the information came from another user-supplied source: The One World Tree. Incidentally, the information is inaccurate. San Bernardino County did not exist in 1852, so Henry Martin Tanner was actually born in Los Angeles County. An online user-contributed family tree is not a source.

Another type of source that is showing up in the Family Tree is the "Extracted IGI Record." Again, this is not a real source, but merely a FamilySearch mechanism to notify users of several issues with the data. I wrote about this situation in my last blog post and there are some helpful comments about these IGI records. Here is what an IGI extracted record looks like. Again, the title of the record is missing due to some FamilySearch issue.

 There is another icon that appears when there is a supporting media image.

The idea here is provide adequate supportive links to documents or records that provide information about your ancestor. Every source record should be examined and evaluated for the reliability of its content and then entries added to the person's details reflecting the information in the source.


  1. Regarding your comment, "Another type of source that is showing up in the Family Tree is the "Extracted IGI Record." Again, this is not a real source, but merely a FamilySearch mechanism to notify users of several issues with the data," I still have to disagree with this statement. Once again my view is too long to put here and you will have to read it here:


    Most of the time these attached IGI sources are just sources. The only data problem they sometimes point out, is to reveal that an incorrect merge took place in either New Family Search or Family Tree. If there were no bad merges, there are no problems.

    1. I guess where we differ is in whether or not you consider an index to be a source. I think that the IGI, is still derived from the source. None of this is clear from the long explanation given by FamilySearch in the link from the record.

  2. Just to add to this a little, the Memories added as artifacts to a person either through the Family Tree or Memories side, and attached and tagged, are also considered sources by users. I different type, to be sure, but still evidence. And sometimes these are added into the source field on a person page as a file or url, if the user knows how to do this.

    1. Good point. But without a direct link from the person's source listing, these documents will be seldom used.

  3. A few days ago I merged two individuals who appeared to be the same. I then decided I did not have enough evidence to support my conclusion and separated them. However, the IGI marriage source and other sources that were originally attached to one of them remained on the wrong person. I copied them to my source box and reattached them to the right person. Just want you to be aware that these sources can be moved to different people!!

    1. I think we will keep finding new and interesting details about how the Family Tree program actually works (or doesn't work) as we get deeper into sources, duplicates and wrongfully combined or merged individuals.