• I have this fact:


  • I have this source citation:


At the moment, the media is attached to the fact:


How do you decide when to link the media to the fact or the source citation? And are there any side effects as a result of linking to source citation instead of fact?

It should be noted that I also link my tree to Ancestry (I don't know if it is relevant).

3 Answers 3


I would suggest that it's very rare that a source provides evidence for just one fact, so the media needs to be ultimately accessible from all the relevant facts. You therefore don't want to add it individually to each of those facts because repetition is never good, especially if you need to adjust something and have all the repetitions to adjust. And then forget one.

This suggests that the media needs to go as far upstream from the facts as possible.

How far upstream depends on both your software and how you've set up your sources / master sources / whatever. For instance, the software that Jan and I use is Family Historian, which allows media to be attached to the Source Record (and I mean Source Record not Citation). Yours may not, I've no idea, in which case you would, I suggest, attach to the Citation.

But it also depends on what your Source Record/Master Source represents. If you're a "splitter", then the Source Record represents the single article and you can attach the article to that Source Record. If you "lump" stuff together, then your Source Record might represent the entire "Ambridge Chronicle" (say) and it would make no sense to attach media articles to the Source Record representing the entire newspaper - in which case you'd attach them to the Citations instead.

I'm not at all familiar with how Ancestry syncs - I'd be very wary of letting the Ancestry tail wag the desktop dog, though.

I'm also conscious that terminology is slightly different across all the software, never mind the usage. Hopefully I've made some sense.

  • 1
    Thanks. To be fair, 95% of the source / citation / media content in my tree has started life off from within Ancestry by accepting hints. It seems to me from both answers that I would link the media to both the facts and the source citations. I wish there were rules (Geneonology for Dummies). I may be a programmer but sources are complicated. :) Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 10:00
  • 1
    The complexity of sources is partly because there is no universally accepted definition of what level the source should be. Is the source the article in the newspaper? That edition of the newspaper? The entire print run of the paper? And is it a different source if we're comparing a microfilm to a digital version of the same article? Lots of people will give different answers and software is no exception.
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 12:24
  • I'm a programmer too, and yes, sources are complicated. "Evidence Explained" is a big help. The sources and citations generated by Ancestry.com are often, shall we say, non-standard (did you know that the 1880 census was co-authored by the LDS church and Ancestry.com? I didn't). Constructing proper citations for things like census records from the FTM side often produces unexpected results on the Ancestry side. It's possible to override Ancestry's citations with properly-crafted ones, but it's very tricky.
    – cleaverkin
    Commented Jan 4, 2021 at 19:27

I only use (an old copy of) Family Tree Maker as a viewer for GEDCOMs I download from my online trees at Ancestry, so I can't speak specifically to best practices for the new FTM. However, this is what I do in Family Historian.

To simply matters, I assume for now that I'm not using the Ancestral Sources add-on to aid in the data entry process.

  1. I create a multi-media object and attach the media to it.
  2. I create the source and associate the multimedia object to it.
  3. I turn on Family Historian's Auto-Source Citation feature.
  4. I fully extract all the data in it. By this I mean, I create people, facts, events, etc. and Family Historian automatically links these to the appropriate source.

Special case: if the item is a group photo, I use the feature in FamilyHistorian to frame each person's face and associate it with the proper individual.

Ideally I rarely add data first and then attach media later. Images which are categorized by Ancestry as "citation media" are associated with the source record they belong to. Photographs of people are associated with the people.

I could see where one might want to associate a photo with a fact, such as a photo of a house with a fact like a census or residence event. However, I don't want those photos synced with Ancestry, so if I were doing so in FTM, I would mark all those photos as private so (as I understand it) they wouldn't get uploaded as part of a sync.

You asked "And are there any side effects as a result of linking to source citation instead of fact?" but to me, the question should be the other way around.

I generally work on Ancestry's online tree system, and when I have access, I save items to people's profiles from fold3 and Newspapers.com. Those show up as Media items in the profiles of the people, so I don't know if those count as "Media linked to facts".

On her Ancestry Desktop Education series (the "Barefoot Genealogist" videos), Crista Cowan talks about best practices about photos on Ancestry. When time allows, I'll link to those videos here.

For more thoughts on this, see my answer to the related question How many sources/citations is too many?.

  • Hi Jan. You can usually go to the Source Citation in Ancestry and it will show you if media is associated with it. Similarly for a life story fact. They both have independent Media sections. Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 20:05
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    @AndrewTruckle I can't speak to what Ancestry does on the LifeStory since I don't use it. When they first announced it, I thought it would be interesting and useful, but once I saw the implementation, I hated it (ditto for Historical facts), At any rate, my answer was intended to show I try to avoid attaching media as an afterthought as much as possible.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 21:11

FTM 2019 uses (or attempts to use) Evidence Explained style source and citation templates. Using those templates, the source would be the newspaper (the entire run of the newspaper, not any specific issue), and the citation would be for the specific volume/issue, and page/column number. Since a citation can be linked to multiple facts, it would seem most appropriate to attach the image to the citation.

I do think it's worth pointing out that "Assault" is a custom fact type, not recognized by the GEDCOM standard, and possibly not handled correctly when imported by non-FTM desktop tools. I try to avoid the use of custom fact types, and would use an article like this simply as evidence of the subject's name and residence - the media shows up either way.

  • If that's what the source is, then, yes, that's where the image should be attached, in my view.
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Jan 4, 2021 at 19:39

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