4 Tips for Organizing Your FamilySearch.org Source Box

If you’re like me, you enjoy having access to millions of free genealogy records on FamilySearch.org, and you may even find yourself having déjà vu as you conduct record searches. When I first started using FamilySearch.org, I didn’t really use its Source Box tool, but I’ve come to find this tool essential in my research.

The Source Box allows you to save records you find in searches.

Adding a Source

You can save records you find on FamilySearch.org to your Source Box

Use these four tips to better organize the items in your FamilySearch.org Source Box.

Source Box info

You can change the Source Title, file it in a certain folder, or add Notes when saving a record to your Source Box.

1. Adjust the title, if necessary, when saving a record.

FamilySearch.org automatically puts in a Source Title for your record based on the collection it was found in and the name you were searching for at that time. For example, one of their titles may read something like: Caroline Hachman in entry for Ferdinand Schmitt and Catherine Geber, “Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934.”

If this won’t help you find the record again later, change the title when you initially save it. Perhaps you could change it to say “Caroline Hachman in Marriage Record for Ferdinand Schmitt and Catherine Geber.” You could add the specific record date or location, too.

Remember to be consistent in how you label each record you save to your Source Box. Just like when you save file to your computer, it’s easiest to find them later if you use a consistent file-naming structure.

2. Use the Notes field.

When saving a record to your Source Box, there’s a field for Notes. Input any information you think will be helpful, such as what search terms you used to find the record, why there’s a difference in the name spelling on the record and the name you use for your ancestors (such as Susan in the record, if Susanna was your ancestor’s name), or other family members included on the record.

3. Create folders.

The default is to put all the records you save in one long list of sources. If you alternate between the families you’re researching, you’ll get a mix of records and families in this list. To help you find sources saved when you return to the site later, create folders in your Source Box.

For example, create a Source Box folder for each family surname you’re researching, or create folders for each record type, such as Censuses or Vital Records. When you save a record to your Source Box, you’ll see a drop-down menu of all your folders, and can choose to save it in the appropriate folder. You also can move previously saved sources into your new folders.

In addition, you may want to create a folder where you can save records that need more investigating to determine if the record is actually a match for an ancestor in your family. For example, you could create a folder called Needs Investigating. Once you finish digging into those records further, you can delete the source, move it to the appropriate folder, and/or attach it to your FamilySearch Family Tree.

4. Attach the source to your family tree.

If you didn’t attach the source to your family tree prior to saving it to you Source Box, no worries! You can attach a source in your Source Box to your family tree by clicking on the record in the Source Box.

A box will pop up, and then you can simply click on the record link. From the record page, click the Attach to Family Tree button and click the Attach or Add links to add the record to the appropriate people in the tree.


Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services and author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

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Posted in Genealogy/Family History
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