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Working with sources in Genbox

Imagine you ran a narrative report on a person in your genealogy database and you got this as a result:

Basilius Franciscus Gilliet, son of Benedictus (Benoit) and Françoise Ferdinande (Springael) Gilliet, was born on 20 December 1818 in the rue des Ecuries in Gent. Witnesses to the birth declaration were Basil Van Loo and Joseph Verschaffel. Basilius married Maria Ludovica Massaux before 1848. Basilius had a daughter before 1848. He had a son Julien Gilliet abt 1848. Basilius had a daughter Octavia Gilliet on 10 August 1850 in Gent. Basilius was employed as a lithograph in December 1850. He witnessed the birth of Marcellus Gilliet on 12 December 1850 in Gent. Basilius had a son Petrus Constantinus Gilliet there on 28 June 1862. Basilius died in Gent on 23 December 1890. Witnesses to the death were Petrus and Isidorus Campens.

Pretty good, right? Well, no. Not really.

In fact, pretty much all of this information is almost useless if you don't know where it came from. You need to be able to check the data, and you need to know how reliable it is.

You may very well have different versions of the same story: a death certificate that says someone was born about 1812 and a marriage certificate that says the same person was born about 1807. How do you handle this? Easy—just enter all you discover in Genbox, and add source information for each thing you enter.

Let's take a typical example. I'm looking for information about Basilius Gilliet and I have a copy of a birth certificate of a Marcellus Gilliet:


The certificate is dated 12 December 1850 and Basilius is mentioned as a witness. The certificate says that he's thirty-two years old ("Basilius Gilliet, oud twee en dertig jaren"), so we can conclude he was probably born about 1818.

Here's how we enter this information in Genbox (we'll pretend we're not interested in Marcellus Gilliet and only in Basilius for now).

Create a new person

Assuming Basilius Gilliet was not present in the database, add a new person. Click the Individual form or select View | Individual in the menu, then hit CTRL-N to add a new individual and fill in what you now about Basilius (his name, sex, and birth date—about 1818):

Generate an idividual report for this person (Reports | Individual | Basic > Make Report) and you'll get this, short and to the point:

Basilius Gilliet was born abt 1818.

Next we'll flesh this out.

Documenting the event

Double click the "Birth" event. You'll be taken to the "Events" tab for Basilius Gilliet:

There's a great number of things we can enter here, amongst others:

  1. the birth date
  2. the birthplace (and a local place, like a hospital or a street in a town)
  3. the child's father
  4. the child's mother
  5. any number of witnesses to the birth

Next to each of the data items you can enter you'll find a button—plus one extra button (circled) next to the name of the event:

You can choose to individually document everything, or you can choose to add sources to the entire event. Or you can choose a mixture of the two.

Create a source record

We've got a source that tells us when the person was born and nothing else, so we're just going to add a source to the birth date. Click the button next to the date field; this will take you to a form where you can select the source from a list or create a new one:

The source is where you got the information. In this case we got the information (Basilius' birth circa 1818) from birth certificate ("geboorteakte") #3600, which is part of the Gent birth records for 1850, which are part of the civil records of the city of Gent.

There are many ways you could enter this information (see defining sources for more information); we'll show you one way to do it.

First we'll enter the name of the source:

Click "add new" and Genbox will open two new windows—a Citation form and a Source form:

We'll first flesh out the source and then turn to the citation.

The source type is a Birth Certificate (City Level); the rest is a matter of filling in the blanks and making sure you have enough information to be able to locate the actual source (microfilm, photocopy, book, ...) if you ever needed to. And if you have an image of the source—as we have—you can add it to the source record (see working with media) too:

If you want to go the extra mile, you can move on to the Evidence tab and add a transcript of the document:

That's it for now. We'll close the source window and turn our attention to the Citation window.


The citation window is where the source we created is connected to Basilius' birth date.

The Assertion tab holds information about the thing you're documenting. Note that you can have more than one citation for a given assertion. In that case you'll have more than one source listed on the Assertion tab, like so:

In our example, there's just the one source for the date of the birth event for the individual Basilius Gilliet:

Double click the source on the Assertion tab to go to the Cited Sources tab:

This is where you see how the source (Marcellus' birth certificate) relates to the assertion.

In our case the source is quite specific: just one birth certificate, identified by year and number, so you don't need to fill in the "where in source" field. Some alternatives ways to go about things (see also defining sources):

if you've defined the source as... enter this in "where in source"
Gent Civil Records Birth Records 1850, #3600
Gent Birth Records 1850, #3600
Gent Birth Records 1850 #3600

As for the other fields on the form:

  • Lead text is where you can optionally put a short introduction to the citation.
  • Annotation: is where you can optionally put another short text which will appear at the end of the citation. Use it to put an appreciation of the source, or any other, well, annotations.
  • Support level for assertion indicates how well the source supports the assertion, ranging from Primary and Direct Support (indicating the source was an eye witness, or that the source specifically talks about the event) to Direct Conflict (indicating the source says something completely different than the assertion). Do not leave the support level set to "Undetermined"!
  • Credibility: how much you think the source should be believed.
  • the box under the Credibility drop-down: a new field since 3.1.11, named "Rationale". This is to store text that briefly explains why you believe the cited source is relevant to the current assertion. It is for your own personal research purposes, and does not normally appear on output reports. You can store here the reasons why you assigned a low/high support level or low/high credibility, or the facts extracted from the source that you think make your case, or personal reminders of work yet to be performed.

An example:

If you've entered a transcript of the source, you can optionally move on to the third tab (Excerpts). You'll see the transcript you entered before:

Locate the bit in the text that supports the assertion, select it and click the "Mark" button. The relevant part of the transcript will be highlighted:

One last thing: go back to the Assertion tab, and decide with all you've just entered about the source in the back of your mind just how sure you are of the assertion. We're going for "probable conclusion":

Note that if there's more than one source you have to take into account the combination of all the sources.

Now, to put it all together, take a look at the Formatting tab to see what the citation will look like in a report:

...or to see what it will look like in the contect of a "real" report, click the preview button on Basilius' birth event:

If we do the same for all the different assertions in the statement, we can get something like this:

Basilius Franciscus Gilliet[1], zoon van Benedictus (Benoit) en Françoise Ferdinande (Springael) Gilliet , werd op 20 december 1818 geboren in Gent[2]. Hij trouwde met Maria Ludovica Massaux[3]. Basilius kreeg een dochter Gilliet . Basilius kreeg abt 1848 een zoon Julien Gilliet[4]. Basilius kreeg op 10 augustus 1850 in Gent een dochter Octavia Gilliet . Getuige: Joachim Benedictus Gilliet[5]. Basilius was in december 1850 steendrukker[6]. Hij was getuige bij de geboorte van Marcellus Gilliet op 12 december 1850 in Gent[7]. Basilius kreeg daar op 28 juni 1862 een zoon Petrus Constantinus Gilliet[8]. Basilius overleed daar op 23 december 1890. Getuigen: Petrus Constantinus Gilliet en Isidorus Campens[9].

1. Burgerlijke Stand Ledeberg, BS/G 789746 Petrus Constantinus Gilliet.

2. Burgerlijke Stand Gent, Tienjarige tabel geboorten 1811-1820; Rijksarchief, Beveren; "Basil François Gilliet, né avant hier à huit heures du matin" geboorteakte Basil François Gilliet, BS/G Gent, 22 december 1818, nr. 354, Rijksarchief, Beveren.

3. "Basilius Franciscus Gilliet... Maria Ludovica Massaux... zijne huisvrouw" geboorteakte Petrus Constantinus Gilliet, BS/G Ledeberg, 30 juni 1862, Rijksarchief, Beveren.

4. Huwelijksakte Petrus Constatinus Gilliet & Juliana Joanna Vandenbossche, BS/H Gent, 1 mei 1897, Rijksarchief, Beveren.

5. Geboorteakte Octavia Gilliet, BS/G Gent, 12 augustus 1850, nr. 2388, Rijksarchief, Beveren.

6. Geboorteakte Marcellus Gilliet, BS/G Gent, 12 december 1850, nr. 3600, Rijksarchief, Beveren.

7. Ibid.

8. Burgerlijke Stand Geboorten Ledeberg: geboortes Ledeberg 30 juni 1862.

9. Ibid; Burgelijke Stand Huwelijken Gent: huwelijk Petrus Constatinus Gilliet & Juliana Joanna Vandenbossche, 1 mei 1897, Rijksarchief, Beveren; Geboortakte Basil François Gilliet: geboortes Gent 22 december 1818; Overlijdensakte, Burgerlijke Stand Overlijdens Gent, 1890, nr. 3918, Rijksarchief, Beveren.

Nice, what?

Posted by Michel Vuijlsteke on July 10, 2004 at 01:24 PM in Sources | Permalink


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Thank you for this step by step guide - it was so helpful. I was beginning to think I would never understand citations, now the fog is starting to lift!!

Posted by: Debbie | Sep 23, 2005 10:48:24 AM

This site is very helpful. Sources and citations have been very difficult for me to follow. It is good to have it all explained step by step. Thank you.
Evelyn Hendricks

Posted by: Evelyn Hendricks | Apr 14, 2006 10:30:48 PM

I'm a beginning and NON-serious genealogist. I just wanted to get a list of my relatives and ancestors and make a big family tree. I haven't been very interested in sources and citations at all.
I found GenBox by looking for a program that would print a chart of everyone in my (GedCom) database, which I keep in PAF so far.
But I like the trial version of GenBox so well just for making the tree that I'm seriously thinking of buying it. (That's a big decision on a poor, retired person's budget!)
So I found all this information amazing. Not only how to do it, but the huge amount of capability the program has.

Thanks so much for the tutorial!


Posted by: DougVL | Oct 16, 2010 10:51:06 PM