The ability to customize almost anything is one of The Master Genealogist's (TMG) most powerful features - and one of its most frustrating. The amazing detail in Evidence Explained makes it a treasure for genealogists - but makes it difficult to synthesize principles. Put the two together and you get chaos - or a wonderful way to cite your sources consistently and professionally.

The Tri-Valley TMG User Group is associated with the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society (L-AGS), and we meet in Pleasanton, California. Information on our meetings - location, date, time, and topic - is always available on the home page of the L-AGS web site. Our three-hour meetings are actually hands-on workshops in which up to fifteen computers are connected to a digital projector allowing customized personal assistance to attendees. In the past, the group has systematically studied Lee Hoffman's Getting the Most out of The Master Genealogist and Terry Reigel's A Primer for The Master Genealogist. In February 2010 we embarked on our most ambitious project to date, a study of Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained.

If you would like to participate in the Tri-Valley TMG User Group's adventures as we attempt to create TMG source templates that approximate Evidence Explained's principles, please feel free to comment and share your ideas.

If you would like to download and use our source type templates in your personal database, we would appreciate it if you retain our acronym (TVTMG) in the template name. Societies, if you would like to use these templates in your group activities, please contact the TV-TMG chair at:

Please note that these are our attempts
and they have not been approved by Mills! In other words, please don't blame her incredible book for our mistakes. Unless otherwise stated, all references are to the 2007 edition of Evidence Explained.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Citing State-level Death Certificates

Death Certificates (State-issued) (This template replicates Mills, EE, QuickCheck model, p. 430, and 9.41.)  Note that this can be used for state-issued birth certificates, as well.  Marriage certificates require an extra citation detail field.
  • Bibliography (Source List Entry):

West Virginia. State Department of Health. Death Certificates. Division of Vital Statistics, Charleston.
  • Full footnote (First Reference Note):
<[JURISDICTION] ><[AGENCY], ><[SERIES]>< no. [CD2] ><([CD3])><, [CD1]><; [REPOSITORY],>< [REPOSITORY LOCATION]><; [CM]>.

West Virginia State Department of Health, death certificate no. 7184 (1946), Robert Moore Baldwin; Division of Vital Statistics, Charleston<; [CM]>.
  • Short footnote (Subsequent Note):
<[JURISDICTION] ><[SERIES]>< no. [CD2] ><([CD3])><, [CD1]><; [CM]>.

West Virginia death certificate no. 7184 (1946), Robert Moore Baldwin<; [CM]>.

Explanation of variations from Mills:
  1. Ta-daa!!  I don't see any.
TMG notes:
  1. If TMG let us specify an individual field in the Repository Address, we wouldn't need to create a separate source element for a repository location that required only a city because the state was already named elsewhere in the citation.
  2. [RECORD TYPE] and [SERIES] specify essentially the same information, but the required capitalization and number differ in the output.  Capitalization might be handled using the [CAP:] formatting, but this is just as easy and allows for those instances when the state's name for the series differs from a simple "death certificate."
New source elements in this template:
  1. Repository Location (in Publisher Location).

1 comment:

  1. There are lots of alternatives for this template, and I use one of them.

    1. Given the fact that this template is specific for state-level certificates, I use [STATE] instead of [JURISDICTION]. It's easier for me to remember. Although I love TMG's reminder feature, I don't like having to use it each time I enter a source. Using [STATE] instead of [JURISDICTION] also allows me to create a template for a local-level certificate easily.

    I refuse to give up my specific definition of [CD3], the date I viewed any record. Also, there are instances when it's necessary to specify the date of a certificate, not just the year. If that's the case, the date is set off by commas, not parentheses. I use [CD1] for the subject's name and [CD2] for the certificate number and date or year. One disadvantage of my practice: What will I do if Mills writes a third edition that radically changes punctuation and content in the [CD2] field?

    2. One could also consider converting "death certificate" to a word constant and creating separate templates for birth certificates. The equivalent information in the Bibliography, though, should remain a variable, since a state may use a different name for their certificate series.