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Why do I have so many ancestors without sources?

Since "genealogy without documentation is mythology", or hearsay, why then do I have so many ancestors without sources?

I admit, when I was brand new in researching my ancestors, I was excited to find anything. I did not really care where it came from, nor did I record the citations. There's probably just a few of you that can relate. :)

It is simple to know when I have not recorded a source for a person. In Legacy Family Tree's Family View (see image below), just take a look at the Source icon. If it is black and white, there are no sources recorded for that person. If it is colorful, then you have added the source.


Legacy's Missing Sources tool makes it even easier for you to locate persons for whom you have not recorded the source. Access this tool by going to Search > Find > Missing Sources tab. Below is what the screen looks like (click to enlarge). In this example, I selected:

  • Name
  • Birth Date and Place
  • Death Date and Place
  • Burial Date and Place
  • Marriage Date and Place
  • and the option that "ALL of the selected fields must be missing sources for a match"

In other words, this will show me a list of persons where I am missing a source for each of these events.

After clicking on the Create List button, Legacy displayed a list of names that met these criteria. I then took a couple of anti-depressant pills.

Some of the people in the resulting Search List were my 13th cousins, five times removed. While I'm sure they were good people, I really wanted to see a list of my direct ancestors who did not have sources. To do this requires a couple of steps.

1) First create a list of your direct ancestors (great grandparents, great-great grandparents, etc.)

  • Click on the Miscellaneous tab (just to the left of the Missing Sources tab) and click on the "View / Select Focus Group" button.
  • Click on "Add an Individual and Ancestors", make sure that you are the selected person, and click OK. Click OK again.
  • Click on the "Create List" button.

2) Now that you have filtered your list, let's just search these names for those without sources.

  • With the Search List still open, click on the Search button, and click on Find.
  • On the Missing Sources tab, make your selections.
  • Before clicking on the Create List button, in the lower left, select "Only search the Search List".

The resulting Search list displays a list of your direct ancestors with no sources. Yikes! Hopefully you do not have too many in this list. If you do, you now know what you will be working on for the next few months. At any time this list can be printed, or better yet, you can "tag" everyone in this list for quick reference later on. (Watch a video on tagging here.)

Thankfully, none of my "Brown" family showed up in the list....


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Thanks, I was sure that you would have this capability but never could find it on my own.

I relate entirely. I spent five years gathering information and 35 years trying to figure out and document the sources. One advantage of going back to old sources is the additional information that appears since I now know relationships, affiliated families, and am more focused on looking for clues leading to the next source. Legacy's citation feature makes documentation so much easier than the old index card method.

The search method you described works well for all but sources recorded as unspecified. It reported as unsourced all the people with multiple census citations, land purchase records, ship log records, and those I autosourced when importing records from another tree. Legacy should add a check box for unspecified sources and include those found there in the search when "everything" is checked.

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