Alternatives to Genealogy Software Source Citations

Genealogists have a common goal:
For others to be able to replicate their work

Everyone, from a professional genealogist publishing a study to a lone family historian who wants to share stories with other family members, needs to document his/her work so that others may confirm the research results.

How do you cite YOUR sources?

In the past, I’ve written about my difficulties navigating certain aspects of source citation templates found in several genealogy software programs and my frustration trying to use them properly.

I had pretty much settled on creating my own citations in the old-school bibliography style used in school papers and then pasting them into the Notes section in my software program.

I still use this method, but there is a faster way to create citations than by longhand.

Did you know that there are quite a few programs, mostly free, that have templates set up so that all the user needs to do is type in the fields?

How is this different than what is offered in a genealogy software program? The process is much simpler. There is no naming master sources and such, just the creation of a well crafted source citation.

There is one caveat before we begin. Most of the websites that generate bibliographic citations are geared towards university research, not genealogy research. Therefore, most don’t exactly fit citations in Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained format and will need to be tweaked. However, that is an easy workaround if you have her book Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace and can compare with the EE format.

What programs and websites are out there?

BibMe – It’s described as an online writing center and is a free site to create citations and save/store bibliographies. Geared towards students, it also allows them to check papers for grammar errors or plagiarism.

EasyBib – This site is very similar to BibMe, but offers a free plan plus two paid levels. To simply create source citations, EasyBib is free.

Citation Machine – This website looks just like BibMe and EasyBib and offers the same services as EasyBib.

Scribbr – an APA citation generator which will check a citation and allows citation editing

Zotero – This program was created for university use and is a “free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite and share your research sources.”

There is a companion book written by Donna Cox Baker, Zotero for Genealogy. If you choose to use Zotero and decide to purchase the book, I’d recommend the paper version, not Kindle, because it is much easier to flip through the pages to find the help you need. You will also need to tweak the citations to achieve EE format.

There are two websites for specific kinds of citations:

Ottobib – This free website will create a source citation for a book if you have the ISBN number. How cool is that?

RecordSeek – This site is also free and will create source citations for an individual website. Also cool!

The last website on this list is the one that offers the most for genealogists – Cite Builder. There is a free version, but genealogists will want to subscribe (about US$15.00 per year) as it allows access to many types of templates useful for genealogists AND one of the styles to create the citation is Evidence Explained. I wrote about my experiences using Cite Builder last year – I really like the simplicity of the program and I simply paste the citation into Notes in my software program. This program fits my needs the best.

Have I missed a good source citation program? Please leave a comment.






William Somes (c1573-1617), Buckinghamshire & Bedfordshire, England

I am always very thankful when someone publishes details about new research findings, particularly when ancestral towns in Europe are identified.

In 2012, Timothy M. Farr published an article “The English Origins of Morris Somes of Gloucester, Massachusetts: A Reconsideration” in The American Genealogist, volume 86:3, pages 161-169.

Because of Mr. Farr’s work, the parentage of Morris Somes was updated (from 1945 and 1977 work) to prove his ancestral home and provide the name of his father and siblings.

Thank you, Timothy M. Farr!

William Somes was born c1573, England and was buried 4 April 1617, Hardmead, Buckinghamshire, England. the name of his wife is unknown.


1. Elizabeth, named before her brothers in her father’s estate, so born c1598, if the eldest child; unmarried in 1617
2. William, likely the one baptized 5 October 1600, Astwood, Buckinghamshire, England, living in 1617
3. Morris Somes, baptized 21 September 1607, Hardmead, Buckinghamshire, England; died 13 January 1688/89, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; married (1) Marjorie Johnson, 4 June 1636, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England (2) Elizabeth Kendall, daughter of John, 26 June 1648, Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts
4. Richard, baptized 21 October 1610, Hardmead, Buckinghamshire, England; living in 1617

This post is short and to the point, but it extends Morris Somes’ ancestry back into England in the 1500s.

The article provides many further Somes’ church book entries, which may indicate further family relationships. It can be accessed on American Ancestors by subscription.


New GeneaGem: Mamie McCubbins Collection, Rowan Public Library, North Carolina

Do you have ancestors who lived in Rowan County, North Carolina? Rowan County was home to thousands of 18th century ancestors who migrated westward into Tennessee and Kentucky.

Many of those early residents were Scots-Irish or Germans who first settled in Pennsylvania and Maryland, so Rowan County is a vital link connecting early families with descendants who moved on.

My husband has several ancestral links who, at one time, lived in Rowan County, so I’ve spent a fair amount of time trudging through county records.

Rowan County was formed in 1753 from the northern portion of Anson County. However, it was much larger in area back then than it is today. All, or portions, of the present-day counties of Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Davidson, Davie, Guilford, Iredell, Lincoln, McDowell, Madison, Mitchell, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin, Yancey fell within its bounds at that time – which is most of western North Carolina!

Birth and death records weren’t kept until the 20th century, but Rowan County is nevertheless rich in early records as it has had only one courthouse fire in 1865, in which some records were lost.

Today’s GeneaGem is a terrific collection of records compiled by Mamie McCubbins and housed at the Rowan Public Library since 1954.

The best part of this collection is that not only has it been digitized and is accessible for free online, but family information has been organized with a Surname Index. It makes searching a simple task!

Some of the Rowan County names in my hubby’s family tree include Douthit, Thompson, Jarvis, Roland and Stoehr (Starr). I even have one tie to the South, through my Loyalist Dutch ancestor Philip Crouse, who can be placed in Rowan County in the 1770s.

Every one of those surnames has a folder in the McCubbin collection and has been save in PDF format.

Information varies from surname to surname. One might find correspondence with family information, handwritten index cards, typed abstracts of deeds and even war information.

The Lopp folder contained a list of Rowan County males who didn’t sign the Oath of Allegiance in 1778. Most of the images are quite legible, although my 1778 list shows faded ink.

However, my Philip “Crose” is easily read in the third column.

If you have ancestors who lived in, or even passed through Rowan County, North Carolina, the Mamie McCubbins Collection should be in your online genealogy toolbox!


Genealogy Tips & Family History