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In general, a source is a person or thing (such as a document) from which information is obtained. Genealogical sources almost always provide evidence for events with their associated dates, such as a birth, wedding, or death, making them vital in proving that one person is related to another - a fundamental principle in genealogy.

For ordinary persons doing their own family history, sources provide a trail of evidence for which others viewing your family history can understand and form their own opinion of its validity, examining the source itself if they feel so led.

TNG defines a source as "any form of evidence cited to prove or substantiate any part of your data." This inclusive definition allows the creator of a TNG website to follow their own understanding of what is meaningful evidence.

Why Provide Sources

  • It is not sensible or honest to claim someone as an ancestor or descendant without providing some sort of evidence that others can consult;
  • It saves you (and others) the need to constantly go back to the beginning and duplicate time consuming basic research;
  • It saves you the frustration of trying to remember why you recorded something as true.

Help with Creating and Maintaining TNG Sources

From the Administration' page select Sources, then select Help for this area. The extensive help screen will guide you in creating new sources and in searching for, editing, deleting, or merging existing sources.

Source Based Genealogy

As the Internet blossomed so did the number of Family Trees posted online; unfortunately it soon became evident that a substantial number of these were based on uncritical guesswork. Since those original heady days there has been an increased call for source based genealogy. At a minimum this means every fact provided, including names, be accompanied by some form of evidence - a source. These sources may vary in their reliability, but they leave a trail which others can follow to confirm or contest the validity of those facts.

TNG Sequence

TNG expects you to follow a sequence before actually citing evidence for some genealogical event:

  • create a Repository;
  • create a Source;
  • Cite the source as often as required.


In TNG, a citation is a reference to an already defined source. The same source may have many citations. More details

TNG Cautions

When using TNG, almost everything you enter into a source definition is displayed to everyone - including casual non registered viewers ("Guests"). Be very careful that you don't enter any private information, such as the name, gender, age, address, or email of any living persons without their express permission. This includes information you enter in the titles, author, publisher, page, and 'actual text'.

Over-Zealous Constrictions

Some well-meaning persons restrict the definition of "source" to exclude everything but the "original". For example, they will say a birth certificate is not a source, it's a citation from a government register; the real source is the government register. It's clear that this interpretation leads to an endless, recursive cycle of citation-ism. Was the government register the original source, or just a copy of some older document? Was the parent the source? If so, when you refer to a birth certificate, are you citing a citation of a citation of a source?

Nonsense! Any sensible person understands that birth certificates are "a" source, and a reference to one of them is "a" citation. If a person viewing your family history wants to know more about a particular birth certificate, they can obtain one for themselves from the citation and source information you provide.

Related Links



Evidence Analysis in FAQ on Board for Certification of Genealogist web site