How to Add Sources

March 10, 2017  - by 
How to Add Sources

Since Family Tree is a collaborative tree and we all share the same ancestors, it’s important to verify the information you enter and provide sources to show others where your information came from. On FamilySearch’s Family Tree, now it’s easy to attach actual images of the sources. Here are the most common scenarios and some tips to help:

A) Adding sources to individuals from the Person screen.

Perhaps the most basic way to add a source is by attaching one you already have to an individual on the Tree. For example, I have a scanned copy of the birth certificate of my great-great-great-grandfather, Edmond Harris, that I would like to attach to him.

Here’s how:

  1. On the Person screen, scroll down the page to find the Sources section. Here you can scan sources already attached to your ancestor. Edmond’s birth record is not listed, so I select Add Source. A box like this one to the right pops up.
  2. Fill in the source information as thoroughly as possible. Give it a simple title, and then enter the full citation. For Edmond’s record, I could write: Church of England. Parish Church of Wingrave Buckinghamshire. “Parish Records for Wingrave, 1550-1956.” FHL microfilm #1966920.
  3. Attach or link to the source. If your source is online (as a FamilySearch document or somewhere elsewhere), you can paste in the url. If it’s a scanned document or photo on your computer, click Add a Memory. From here, you can upload your source or attach one from your Memories Gallery. (The Memories Gallery is a great place to store documents, family stories, photos, audio clips, and more.) I upload and attach Edmond’s scanned birth record from my computer.
  4. Select the events in your source. This will attach it to these pieces of information. Since I selected Birth and Christening, Edmond’s birth source will also show up with this information at the top of the screen.

B) Adding sources from a record search.

Another common way to attach sources found in FamilySearch’s record collections is from the source itself. Perhaps you just did a search and located your ancestor in a historical record (for help doing this see: How to Search). Or maybe you saw a Record Hint icon prompting you to check out a certain source (see section C for an example of this). No matter how you located your source, FamilySearch makes it easy to attach it directly to that person on the Tree. For this example, I want to attach a World War I draft registration card to my great-grandfather, Earl Albrecht.

This is how it works:

  1. After doing your search, click on the record of interest to get a screen like the one above. This draft registration card transcription looks like a match to me, so I choose Attach to Family Tree.
  2. Match the record to your ancestor. You will get a screen with the details from the record (in this case the draft registration card) on the left. On the right, you select which ancestor from your tree the information matches. Keep in mind that the name of the correct ancestor doesn’t necessarily appear on its own. I had to start typing Earl’s name in the search box before he was listed as an option.
  3. Compare the two columns. After selecting the ancestor from the Tree, you’ll see a comparison screen.
    Since the record information matched my information about Earl Albrecht, I scroll down to enter the reason I’m attaching the source, and then I select Attach.

C) Attaching a record to more than one person.

Earl Albrecht was the only person in my family who was included in the draft registration card. However, many records, such as census or marriage records, have names of several ancestors in them. FamilySearch makes it possible to attach the source to all your ancestors at one time. Just follow these steps:

  1. Find the record of interest to you. In this case, I clicked on a Record Hint for a marriage record that appeared to the right on Leslie Vincent Huber’s Person page. Since the record summary fits my ancestor, I click Review and Attach.
  2. Compare possible matches one at a time. The resulting match page this time pulled out a number of names from the record on the left side. Similar people from my tree are put on the right side. I start with the person I searched for—Leslie Vincent Huber. After confirming this is the same person and adding a reason, I click Attach.
  3. Follow the same process with other potential matches. The next match for me is Anna Friedman, Leslie Vincent Huber’s wife. Remember that if there is new information on the record, you can add it to the person. You can even add new people to your tree in this process.

If you’re feeling bogged down in the details, remember that FamilySearch provides prompts along the way. The best way to learn is to dive in and give it a try!

Leslie Albrecht Huber

Leslie Albrecht Huber has written for dozens of magazines and journals on genealogy and other topics. She currently does communications consulting and contract work for nonprofit organizations. Leslie received a bachelor's degree in history from Brigham Young University and a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked as a professional genealogist, helpingothers trace their families, and has spoken on genealogy and history topics to groups across the United States.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. This is a useful article. However, it is absolutely necessary when adding an item you have scanned or copied that you ensure you are not breaking copyright. Many sites and books/booklets allow you to copy for personal use only; not to add to a website. This needs to be checked BEFORE uploading to FamilySearch.

    1. i work with legal books and a text book company. We have whole books on copyright etc. If you are documenting your source you are save (credit for another’s words) and if you are not selling it you are safe. Most of what I see posted and used as sources would not need a copyright check.

  2. 1.On the Person screen, scroll down the page to find the Sources section.

    I’m lost on the very first line. What “Sources section”? Where do I scroll down on the Person screen.

    1. Every individual record on FSFT has a Sources section (and a Notes section and a Discussions section and a Vital Information section, etc. etc.). I am at a loss as to how to explain it with any more success than what was written. Since the various sections can be re-ordered depending on the preference of the user you might not need to scroll down but it will be there somewhere.

    2. If you still can’t find the sources section, under the person’s name there’s some tabs: details, memories and ordinances. Details will automatically open when you’re on that person’s screen, and under that you’ll see vitals, other, family, sources, and a few more options, click on sources and it’ll take you straight to it.

  3. Leslie, it’s great to see a blog article about adding sources. It will help many people. May I also say that I cannot agree with your describing the baptism (christening) record in section A as a birth record. We find instances of christenings occurring several years after the child’s birth. The birth date ought not be assumed to be the same as the recorded christening date. I hope that patrons will not do that.

    In sections B and C it would have been helpful if you had explained HOW to write a reason for attaching the source. At present, it is rare to see a useful reason entered by a patron. People enter useless things such as ‘Same person’ or ‘It matches’ or ‘This is the marriage record’. They have never been informed about how to write a useful reason. Why not?

    A useful reason will enable other patrons to know exactly why the source is validly attached to the ancestor’s page (and many added sources are NOT applicable to the ancestor at all). Without a well stated reason, each patron who later looks at the source has to do a complete study of the source to ascertain whether it is a valid one.

    In addition, as the initial patron composes a good reason, he/she will be caused to think more analytically about the source being considered. Thus they will be less likely to add an invalid source.

    I’d love to explain here how to compose a useful reason (with examples) but it is not really my place to do so. Will someone at FSFT please provide such instruction in the Blog and thus help the total FSFT data to become more solid and reliable.

    1. I copy and paste the source. Example: Kentucky Marriage Records, 1830-1925 then add proves she was married in Kentucky.

  4. The Add to source box is saying “Attempt to add Source Failed.” It will no longer let me add sources to my source box. Do you know why?

  5. Lot’s of luck. Family search is a great tool with good access to source documents, but too many people can change correctly and well-sourced information to incorrect information with sources and this same with wiki-tree their info on Thomas Hardy’s relationship to Richard Hardy is bogus and the DeHardy’s information regarding Lydia is equally as bogus!

  6. After I attach a record,(and if all hints for that person have been attached) then the person disappears from my list and it looks like all went well…Later, it’s BACK ON MY LIST as a hint, and when I click on it I find a BLACK TRIANGLE on one or more of the people in the document. WHAT DOES THE BLACK TRIANGLE INDICATE? WHY DID MY HINT NOT ATTACH CORRECTLY?

    1. That means it is attached to another person in Family Tree. Check the person it is attached to and initiate a merge if necessary.

  7. How can I copy a record from one person’s source file to another person’s sources? For example I find a census record for a family in 1870 in one of the members sources and i want to copy that source to the other family members in the census.

  8. It looks like this article needs to be updated. The Sources field on a person’s Family Tree record was replaced a couple of months ago by the person’s Sources screen, which is accessed by clicking on the Sources tab in the person’s Family Tree record. The new screen is a great enhancement, by the way; thanks!

  9. I found a census record and on the record and indexing part, it has my great grandmother and her children. But when I try to attach the record, it only lets me attach it to her. I can’t add it to the children because they aren’t on the sourcelinker, even where it says ‘other persons on this record’.

    Any tips?

    1. On the person page if you go to sources you can see all the sources that are attached to that individual. Click on the source you would like to detach and there will be a button above the source url that says “detach”. Hope this helps!

  10. Can you explain what happens when I have a source attached to a person and I want to re-use that source for that person’s relationship record?
    If the source was added to the person in the distant past (more than a week), It’s unlikely that I will find it in my source box. So instead, I go to the existing source and copy it to my source box. Now I can add it to wherever I need it.
    The odd thing is that the source at the top of my source box now says “Copy of ….”
    I don’t get it.

  11. I have a question about how to add a record when the name doesn’t exactly match but I am reasonable sure it is the same person. My great grandfather’s name was Abelardo and his parents’ names were Manuel and Antonia. I have found a birth certificate for an Abelo born to Manuel and Antonia in the same city and the same dates. How can I attach this record to my great grandfather’s file?

  12. Excelentes ayudas para nuestra genealogía

    Translation from Spanish to English: Excellent helps for our genealogy