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Legacy Tip - How to Cite an Online Death Certificate

I get lots of emails asking which SourceWriter template I would use to cite certain kinds of documents. Today I received one asking about citing an online death certificate. Since I have a few minutes before the end of my "official" work day, I thought I'd add my response to a new blog post here.

After locating Carrie Brown's death certificate in the Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 database at Ancestry, I downloaded the image, moved it to the appropriate folder on my hard drive, and renamed it. Here's what the folder looks like now:


Next, I set up Legacy's Source Clipboard with 1) the master source and 2) the source details.

To get started, I opened the Source Clipboard, clicked on the link for "Step 1", searched the Master Source List to see if I've previously created the master source for this collection, and then clicked on the Add button. Below is the specific source template I selected.


Then I filled in the fields as follows:


After clicking Save, I filled in the source details as follows:


And then I gazed at the Output Preview on the right and felt so happy that my citations were automatically crafted for me by Legacy AND that they adhere to the standards as set in Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained.


I then analyzed the data on the certificate and pasted the citation from the clipboard to the relevant pieces of data.

Of course, there's much more to the research process than just adding data and citations. But for the purposes of answering the question of which SourceWriter template would I use for an online death certificate, I hope this will lead you in the right direction.

If you want to see the research and data entry in action, check out my two webinar recordings:

Or if you want the research process and data entry in print, check out Legacy Family Tree - Unlocked!


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Excellent !! As always.... Thanks Geoff.

I also include the volume and page number where the record is found. Using the template in the example, I would put the information after the date of the certificate so it would print as (1933, Volume n, page n)

This information would be useful to someone who wishes to order a copy of the certificate from the source rather than print it from the website.

I use the Pennsylvania death certificate images on Ancestry fairly often and have been wondering where to put this information about them in the citation: "Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania." (This is quoted from Ancestry's description of the records.)

I infer that the PHMC is the custodian of the records and that its contract with Ancestry has an "end date," so I want to be able to find them after that. Suggestions?

Marian - I'm assuming you're using the SourceWriter template for Death Records > Death Certificate > All countries... > Created a state level > Online image. In this template there is not a "citing..." or Credit Line field. Rather, you could use the Overrides tab to add the "citing..." plus your additional information if you'd like.

Responding to Marian.
I sometimes enter that info under the repository tab.

Nice example. I haven't had to cite the Pennsylvania records, but Indiana death certificates were added in June and I have been using those! I do not use sourcewriter...I freeform everything, but my citation came out fairly similar. Slight differences. The main difference is that I also refer to the archives holding the records. Here is my example:

Indiana State Board of Health, Death Certificate no. 254, Simon Kixmiller, 23 October 1904; consulted as "Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011," digital images, Ancestry ( : viewed 17 June 2016); citing Death Certificates, 1900-2011, Indiana State Board of Health, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis.

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