Source Naming Conventions & Making source names orderly

I imported part (a great deal) of my tree from a family member who used mostly free form source templates without much uniform convention for naming. Frankly, the source names I used are not that much better either. Yet.

Since RM8 makes it easy to change names of sources without effecting the source type, details, and footnotes, I am considering editing mine so that they line up in an easy to read manner. I suppose I figure it will make it easier to not duplicate in error.

I noticed on the YouTube webinar for Sources that the file Bruce Buzbee uses for demonstration has some source names with prefixes like “Cem” for cemetery or “Book” or “Researcher”. Not all of the source names are organized like this. I realize it is just a demo file, but here is my question:

Do you think it useful to force alphabetical order on Source names? Is it worthwhile to go through my list in this manner?

Since I plan to verify the sources I received, a big job to be sure, it it better to adopt a naming convention as I proceed? How would you go about it?

It helped me to develop a short list of source titles to group similar sources together. These are broad terms like death, degrees, birth, legal, military. A small number of source categories lets me spot duplicates and overlaps easier.

Also, create a name convention for Media and Citation’s
For media, I use the “RMID-Name_type_#.jpg” ie: 1-Slatter_census_1940.jpg

Here is my source list, I am sure there are better ways!

Birth Certificates - California
Birth Index - California
California Great Registers, 1850-1920
Census - 1850 United States Federal Census
Census - 1860 United States Federal Census
Census - 1870 United States Federal Census
Census - 1880 United States Federal Census
Census - 1890 United States Federal Census
Census - 1900 United States Federal Census
Census - 1910 United States Federal Census
Census - 1920 United States Federal Census
Census - 1930 United States Federal Census
Census - 1940 United States Federal Census
Census - 1950 United States Federal Census
Census - Canada - 1851
Census - Canada - 1861
Census - Canada - 1871
Census - Canada - 1881
Census - Canada - 1891
Census - Canada - 1901
Census - Canada - 1910
Census - Canada - 1911
Census - Canada - 1921
Census - State - Kansas- 1895
Church Records - England, Devon, All Counties not listed (FS)
Church Records - England, Devonshire, St Andrew
Church Records - England, Devonshire, St Andrew
Church Records - England, Non-Conformist
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, All Counties not listed
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Ambrosden
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Baldon Marsh
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Baldon Toot
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Bladon
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Bladon
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Goring
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Hethe
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Merton
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Oxford All Saints
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Oxford, St Cross (Holywell), 1652 -1812
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Oxford, St Cross (Holywell), 1652 -1930
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Oxford, St Cross (Holywell), 1813 - 1915
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Oxford, St Mary Magdalen
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Oxford, St Mary the Virgin
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Oxford, St Peter in the East, 1559 - 1812
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Sandford on Thames
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Tetsworth
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Witney St Mary 1754-1930
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Woodstock
Church Records - England, Oxfordshire, Yarnton
Church Records - England, Warwickshire, Wellesbourne-Hastings
Church Records - England, Warwickshire, Leamington Priors, All Saints
Church Records - England, Warwickshire, Wellesbourne,
Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915, England & Wales
Death
Directory - City and Business Directories
Directory - City and Business Directories - Canada
Directory - City and Business Directories - Los Angeles - 1902
Directory - City and Business Directories - Los Angeles - 1903
Directory - City and Business Directories - Los Angeles - 1904
Directory - City and Business Directories - Omaha 1874 - 1883
Directory - City and Business Directories - Omaha 1874 - 1883
Draft Registration - 1918 - California
Grave Marker -Find a Grave
Marriage Certificate - AncestryLibrary Online
Marriage Certificate - FamilySearch Online
Marriage Certificate - Hard Copy
Marriage Records - Bound (online)
Weblinks - Ancestry - Oxfordshire, England

2 Likes

I like this! Thanks!

Confirms others do what I am considering. Thanks!

I’ve organised my sources slightly differently to Rooty and dcslatter. I live remotely and am not able to visit repositories and the like so most of my research is (very unfortunately) limited to online. So the naming convention I’ve adopted is: prefix is the site that hosts the database (such as Ancestry, FMP, FS etc), with the database category etc following.

image

For items found offline (such as books, journals and interviews and correspondence etc), I group these under those broad headings.

With RM7 I found it much easier to have the sources sorted for quick reference and ease of use. This is because the search in RM7 was comparatively limited. Searching for “anc” would identify the first source that commenced with “anc”, but not locate those that say ended in “anc”.

But in RM8, a search for “anc” will identify all sources that contain this string of characters, no matter where in the source name the string is located. So it will identify “ancestry” and also “Lancashire”.

Given the search function in RM8 is so robust it might not be so imperative to proceed with a large renaming project (and particularly if you’re eager to get into other things!).

But if you’ve inherited the tree and the sources, going through them one by one, reviewing, correcting and renaming, is a good way of becoming familiar with what you’ve been gifted! :slight_smile:

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Many thanks. I feel certain you are right about the benefit of going through it all one by one. I will be much happier with the organization and the knowledge gained is always a plus.

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There are so many approaches to this subject and they all work for different individuals. When I started this pursuit some thirty-five years ago I visited with several people who were using PAF to see how they organized their sources. As can be expected, some would do it by the individual or family involved, some would do it by repository, like JillV, and many other systems. However, the gentleman that I found to have the best organization, and very impressively so, told me it’s just like real estate, “Location, location, location.” He grouped his documents by the location of the event.

Hey, I was a rookie, but his system made a lot of sense to me. I went on to quickly develop my own version of his system for source documents for events. In order to do this it more or less forced me to become a rather extreme splitter, for which many of my contemporaries held contempt! “Have you got any idea how long your source list is going to be?” My response, “It really doesn’t matter to me. That is why I’m using a computer to manage this!” In general terms I had a one to one relationship between documents and Sources in my computer program. My naming convention told me when and where the event took place, the type of event, the source of the document, and the individual(s) involved. So my Source List looks like this:

image

For example, the fifth item on the list decoded is a [U] United States, [NY] New York State, [NEW] New York County (Manhattan), [Chu] Church record of a [C] Christening (Baptism) on [1836-12-16] 16 Dec 1836 for [Oliver Martin]. Once you know this pattern you can easily identify the other items in the list. I have been using this system for over thirty years and have not found a reason to change it. However, everyone is different, and no one is right or wrong.

I must add that I have evolved for other types of sources and generally find that for me a Source falls into one of three or four categories.

  1. It is a location based document, as above, and is named in this manor.

       U-OH-MOR-CivM-1835-04-09 Watson Harris–Nancy Work
    
  2. It is an Authored item that has been Published (a book), AP

       AP   Futhey, J. Smith and Gilbert Cope, "History of Chester County, Pennsylvania"
    
  3. It is an Authored item that has not been published, i.e., Unpublished (letters, mss, etc.), AU

       AU   Harris, Franklin Work - 1937-02-10 letter to Joseph Hastings Harris
    
  4. It is an Artifact

       Haven't gotten here yet!
    

Sorry about the long post.

Best,

Paul

Thanks so much for posting Paul and sharing your thoughts and the system that you’ve implemented – very impressed! I love hearing about all the different approaches that people have adopted to organise their genealogy.

I love encouraging others to pursue this hobby and the more thoughts and ideas that can be shared with those just starting out, so they can find the approach that works best for them, the better. I’ve taken to keeping a record of all the ideas and tips from this forum so I can do just that.

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This is great information, thanks for publishing your styles on how you name your sources and media. Here’s mine:

Media:
Typical media name: 838c_JONES_David_gravemarker.jpg
838 is the person’s reference number (RM ID number).
C is the item identifier (use alphabet a-z, let “a” be the person’s main picture).
JONES is the person’s last name (surname), use upper case. (uses maiden name for women)
David is the person’s first name.
Gravemarker is the media content identifier.
(use buried and maiden name for women for gravemarker and obituary facts.
Template: 36i_JONES_Alice_[Murphy]_gravemarker)

Source Name:
Typical source name: *Census: 1930 US Federal_838d_JONES, David
*Census is the source’s type.
1930 US Federal is the source’s name.
838 is the person’s reference number (RM ID number).
d is the source identifier, usually coincides with the media item identifier.
(this ties in both the person, media, and sources used)
JONES is the person’s last name, use upper case.
David is the person’s first name.

John F