Genealogists have a love-hate relationship with sources. They are the key to documenting why we know what we know about a person, place or event. But, because there is so much minutiae involved in crafting the citation to any given source, this is a chore that often gets put off ’til later. As a result, sources seldom are documented correctly. WeRelate offers us a source database with more than a million sources already documented while providing a platform to build additional sources with minimal effort. Yes, it will take some time to become familiar with the system and how it works, but once you are comfortable using WeRelate’s source portals, you’ll find it an impressive tool for all your family research.
There are three main components in the WeRelate sourcing system:
Sources and MySources only differ by a matter of degree. A Source is of general interest to the WeRelate community while a MySource is much more limited. For example, the probate records for Chattooga County, Georgia from 1856 to 1924, would be a Source and the Last Will and Testament for John Thomas Barker of Chattooga County, Georgia, would be a MySource. As I see it, MySources are more likely to be privately held documents like wills, letters, journals, family Bibles and such.
Repositories are places where you will find the source’s information and you will find there are often multiple repositories for any given source. In my probate records example, you will likely find the original records at the county courthouse. There may also be transcriptions, microfilmed copies, digitized copies and even searchable databases containing those records. The Repository page is where each of these locations are listed.
Each Source, MySource and Repository gets its own page in WeRelate. Why? Because it gives us the opportunity to document so much more than just the citation information. A Repository page can include location, contacts, hours of operation, web site, costs and other useful information. Source pages can document issues related to the source like misspelled names or missing sections. MySources could include scanned copies of the original document and background related to the event or fact it supports. And, because you have the entire WeRelate community building these pages, the results are quite impressive. Take a look at the Repository page for the Allen County Public Library. On a much smaller scale, but still quite useful, is the page for the St. Augustine Historical Society. If you belong to a genealogy or historical society, check to see if your group has a repository page. If not, create one with the basic information. If there is one and you can provide additional information, go ahead and do that. Every little bit helps!
Creating Source and Repository Pages
Before you jump in to create a source, take a look to see if it isn’t already there. There’s a very good tutorial for Searching for Sources to help you get started.
Here, I’m looking for Robert Baker’s history of Chattooga County, Georgia, and I see that it’s already in the WeRelate Source collection. When I look at the Source page, I notice that the only repository listed is the Family History Library. I do know that there are copies in both public libraries in Chattooga County, so, after checking to see if there’s a page for the Chattooga County Public Library [there isn't], I’m going to create a Repository page for the library and then add it to this Source page.
Choose Repository from the Add menu, enter the name of the Repository you will be adding, then click the Add Page button.
After filling in the Repository information form, I used the text area to provide additional details about each branch. Once that’s done, I save the page. Now, I’m ready to go back to the Source page and add this repository to it.
Here is the Source form for Baker’s history. I noticed the issue date for the book was wrong, so I’ve changed that. Now, I just click on the Add Repository link at the bottom of the form to display the form information to be entered.
Notice that as I start typing the name of my Repository, WeRelate presents me with a list of existing repository pages – including my library page. I just select it, enter the URL to the WeRelate Repository page I just created and select the repository type from the drop-down selector. All that’s left is to save this Source page.
Now let’s look at creating a new Source page from scratch. First, choose the appropriate source type (Source or MySource) from the Add menu. The example below shows the first screen presented for a Source page.
Notice that this screen also gives you lots of helpful information for setting up your source. At the bottom left is discussion on the differences between a Source and MySource page. On the bottom right is information on the types of Source pages you can create. The fields in the Add Source form have instructional information too. Follow these instructions and you’re on your way. Click the Add Page button, double-check the presented search results to insure your source isn’t already there, then click Add Page again.
The data fields included in a Source page will differ depending on the source type. Compare the simple form for a newspaper shown here with the more complex form in the earlier book source. After completing the form and adding any repositories, all I need to do is save this source.
Yes, adding source and repository pages will take a bit of time, but let me give you some incentive. First, as more and more sources are added to WeRelate, it becomes the genealogical equivalent of WorldCat and the ultimate bibliography. I find it a lot easier to link to a Source page at WeRelate when blogging family stories. When a reader follows that link, not only will she find the citation information, but repositories where the original source document can be found and any notes or supplemental information about it. And, because it’s a lot easier to link to the Source page, I’m more likely to include source information with my stories. In my opinion, everybody wins!
What else can you do with WeRelate Sources? Have you digitized your personal collection of family records? Why not use MySources to index your collection – and possibly attach a copy of the digital document. I’ve created a MySource for my Barker Family Bible with surnames, locations, transcriptions and copies of the original. If that’s not a magnet for finding a research cousin, nothing is.
One final note. WeRelate pages are indexed every night. When you add new pages or update existing ones, those pages are visible immediately but the search engine won’t pick it up until the next index operation is completed. So, don’t expect any research cousins to come knocking right away – at least not until tomorrow.
Next week we’ll take on the family tree and importing GEDCOM records. See you then!