Source titles in GEDCOM and on FamilySearch

When I create a source on Ancestry, or in Gramps, which is my main program, its title may be something like the name of a church book, or a census, or the civil registry of a particular town. And this source can then be shared by different citations, and even different sorts of events, like in a churc book that has baptisms, marriages, and burials. And this works quite well, when I stick to these programs.

When I want to share information in the FamilySearch Tree however, none of these programs work, so I rely on RootsMagic to transfer data to FamilySearch. And that works quite well for persons and relations, but not for sources, because FamilySearch expects each source title to be unique, and can’t work well when the baptism and marriage of a person come from the same church book.

Now, when I look at the master and detail source data in RootsMagic, it appears when a standard GEDCOM source is imported, source title goes to the master source, and that title also goes to FamilySearch as the source title, so that it is very hard to get the unique source title that they want in their single level source model.

And moreover, when I look at the footnotes, I also see that they are derived from the master source, so they never include things like a date and or volume, page, or record number that I normally use in a citation.

Is there a way to change this? When I read a publication, I’m used to seeing footnotes that include the source title and the page number, sometimes in an abbreviated form, and to have the source titles in the bibliography. This makes the footnotes unique, and the same could be used to generate the source titles that are sent to FamilySearch.

The reason that I use Gramps is that RootsMagic doesn’t speak my language, which is Dutch.

There is something wrong with this picture. RM definitely does support things like data or volume, page, or record number in footnotes. When working from within RM, all of its source templates place data like volume, page, or record number into Source Details and the footnote sentence takes data from both the Master Source and the Source Details so the data you need is in the footnote sentence.

However, that does not negate your main concern. And there may well be something about the Gramps GEDCOM that causes everything to go into the Master Source in RM. I wonder if maybe you could post a sample of the way just one of your sources looks in the GEDCOM produced by Gramps and then how just that source looks in the RM8 user interface after RM8 has imported the GEDCOM.

Also, I don’t know if you have access to RM7 or not, but I would be curious to know if RM7 has the same problem. If you don’t have access to RM7, I would volunteer to import a very small GEDCOM - like one person - from your Gramps into both RM7 and RM8 to see how each version of RM handles the GEDCOM.

I made a mistake about the footnotes, so you are right about those. I only looked at the master part, and now see that the preview pane shows source title and page numbers.

This means that the only problem left is that for a person who’s birth and marriage come from the same civil registry, only the source title is presented in the FamilySearch source synchronization tab, like this:

Note that ‘bs’ is an abbreviation for “Burgerlijke Stand”, which is Dutch for Civil Registry.

What I’d wish to see here is that for FamilySearch, which has no master and detail, the page number is added to the title, to make it unique.

I hope that somebody who understands this issue better than me will speak to it. But my sense of it is that FamilySearch (and Ancestry, for that matter) have a different data model for sources than do typical desktop software such as Gramps or RM or their competitors. So that and the following are where I need to be corrected if I am wrong.

As you say, FamilySearch (and I think also Ancestry) seem to have only a “source” which is not split into master source and source detail. The “source” in FamilySearch (and I think also Ancestry) is also linked to an image. This provides great simplicity for FamilySearch and Ancestry users because all they have to do is to link an image to a person or to a fact and a “source” magically comes into being and they are done with tht source. It’s way easier for the user than all of the Evidence Explained stuff and source template stuff and master-source-and-source-stuff that seems so typical of desktop software.

To tell you the truth, I really wish that all genealogy software could handle “sources” and images more like the way FamilySearch and Ancestry does it. I would like to be able just to link an image to a fact and be done with it. But then, when I create a printed report or post my data online, where will the footnote and endnote sentences come from?

In any case, I really think you are kind of caught between two different data models for “source” data, and I’m not really sure how best to reconcile the two data models. And I really hope other users will post better explanations and better solutions.

To tell you the truth, I am really pleased that all genealogy software does not handle “sources” and images more like the way FamilySearch and Ancestry does it.

I do not want my database to have links to images on Ancestry thank you very much, I very much prefer to have all my images (which come from many places other than Ancestry) on my own computer. I do not have an Ancestry tree which probably makes a difference to my preferences.

You are right in the sense that the data model is the culprit here, but I need to correct you about Ancestry, because it has the same data model as most desktop software, so the only software that is different (in this context) is FamilySearch.

To illustrate this, I have a source that I just found on Ancestry for a late cousin in California:

In this source, you can see all levels that we know in GEDCOM, meaning Repository, Source, and Citation, where the latter two are called Master and Detail in RM. And when I download my tree from Ancestry into RM, I see that same information, so that part is OK.

The problem starts when I want to synchronize sources with FamilySearch

because in this window, on the left, I only see the source title as stored in the master part. And that is not enough to create the unique titles that you see on the right, where you often see that FamilySearch has something like subject in collection. A title like that is unique when the subject is unique enough, and the one generated by RM is not unique, because all details are missing. In other words, when I continue to upload sources like these to FamilySearch, my source box may quickly grow full of sources named after the same census, or church book, when I use local Dutch sources from before 1812.

Note that this is primarily a problem with titles. When I check the sources on the FamilySearch site, I can see that the citation field has all the necessary details, exactly as they appear in the footnote field in RM.

In this case, the issue concentrates on a single census entry, but when a church book has entries for more than one event, like birth, marriage, and death, which all appear on different pages, I see no way to send those as different sources to FamilySearch, because they’re all grouped under a single church book entry. So IMO, that’s the main problem.