News from around the web.
Go to Source
As an addendum to our
earlier blog post on resources to help you cite your genealogy sources, I wanted
to link to some other posts on the topic from genealogy bloggers.
Most researchers agree it’s important to cite sources, but the hows, whens and wheres
have caused a bit of a stir. Genealogy blog readers may notice what my mom and dad
used to call a “discussion” over the importance of adhering to the finer points of
source citation style (which might be intimidating to newbie or casual researchers)
versus just getting the source information down.
Another component to the issue (and something else that can make source citation look
complicated) is evaluating a source’s reliability:
Is the information likely to be correct because the source—say, a birth certificate—was
created when the birth, marriage or other event happened? Or is the source less reliable
because it’s a transcription of a digitized book written years later by someone who
read a newspaper article about the grandson of the person whose neighbor was actually
there? Do several less-reliable sources that provide consistent information equal
a reliable source? Can you ever really prove when certain events happened in your
ancestor’s life? What does it all mean??
These folks weigh in with their opinions and encouragement:
In his Citation
blog category, the Ancestry Insider writes in depth about source citation principles
and the quality of source information given on genealogy records sites such as Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
Citations in Genealogy: Church or Cult on the Clue Wagon blog encapsulates the
above-mentioned discussion. The comments here include 10 commandments of source citation
from Evidence Explained author Elizabeth Shown Mills.
Source Citation posts describe sourcing in genealogy software and online family
trees, review presentations on citing sources, link to others’ posts on the topic
his Planting the Seeds blog, Michael Hait explains why the way you format source
citations is important.
Tanner on Genealogy’s Star writes here about genealogical evidence as opposed
to proof. Dear
Myrtle links to several of his related posts here.
Luxegen Genealogy and Family History, Joan Miller writes about how to educate
new researchers regarding citations, and her Good/Better/Best citation philosophy.
Posts in the GeneaBloggers
Source Citation category link to the site’s quick reference citation guide and
a discussion of blogs’ reliability as sources.
Source citation doesn’t have to be scary. The key is to note every bit of information
available about the record, website, book, newspaper, person or other source you used,
and make sure it doesn’t get separated from the information the source provided. Whenever
possible, get the original record rather than stopping when you find an index or a
Use your knowledge as a researcher to decide whether the information in the source
makes sense, and how far you can trust that source. If you have any doubts, don’t
add the information to your tree, but use it to form a hypothesis you can keep researching.
Tree Magazine free, downloadable Source Citation Cheat Sheet
Documentation 101: How to Cite Genealogy Sources Accurately and Effectively Family
Tree University course
Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown
Mills, available in ShopFamilyTree.com