|Introduction to Genealogy|
When researching your family it is very important that you keep track of every piece of information. This is important both as a means of verifying or "proving" your data and also as a way for you or other researchers to go back to that source when future research leads to information which conflicts with your original assumption. Any statement of fact, whether it is a birth date or an ancestor's surname, must carry its own individual source. Source citations serve to:
- let others know on which records you based your facts (did the birth date you have for your great-grandmother come from a published family history, a tombstone or a birth certificate?)
- assist others in evaluating your research (if you find a complete genealogy of your grandfather on the Internet, wouldn't you want to know where the information came from?)
- provide a reference in cases where a newly found fact appears to conflict with previous assumptions
- help you to go easily go back to a previously used source when you realize you may have missed information or you have found new details which may lead to more information from that source
Most of us know how to cite material we have found in a reference book, but how do you cite facts found on tombstones or in family bibles? Here are some examples of how to properly cite many of the family sources we have discussed in this lesson. We will discuss the standards for citing official documents such as birth and marriage certificates in a later lesson.
Citations for information found in a family bible should always include the information on publication and its provenance (names and dates for people who have owned the bible)
1. Family data, Dempsey Owens Family Bible, The Holy Bible (American Bible Society, New York 1853); original owned in 2001 by William L. Owens (put mailing address here). The Dempsey Owens Family Bible passed from Dempsey to his son James Turner Owens, to his son Dempsey Raymond Owens, to his son William L. Owens.
Family Group Sheet
When you use data which has been received from others, you should always document the data as you receive it and not use the original sources cited by the other researcher. You haven't personally checked these resources, therefore they are not your source.
1. Jane Doe, "William M. Crisp - Lucy Cherry family group sheet," supplied 2 February 2001 by Doe (put mailing address here).
Be sure to document who you interviewed and when, as well as who is in possession of the interview records (transcripts, tape recordings, etc.)
1. Interview with Charles Bishop Koth (interviewees address here), by Kimberly Thomas Powell, 7 August 1999. Transcript held in 2001 by Powell (put mailing address here). [You can include an annotation or personal comment here.]
It is much more accurate to quote a specific letter as a source, rather than just citing the individual who wrote the letter as your source.
1. Letter from Patrick Owens (put mailing address here) to Kimberly Thomas Powell, 9 January 1998; held in 2001 by Powell (put mailing address here). [You can include an annotation or personal comment here.]
Newspaper Clipping (Marriage Announcement, Obituary, etc.)
Be sure to include the name of the newspaper, the place and date of publication, the page and column number.
1. Henry Charles Koth - Mary Elizabeth Ihly marriage announcement, Southern Baptist newspaper, Charleston, South Carolina, 16 June, 1860, page 8, column 1.
This would apply to information received from Internet databases as well as online transcriptions (i.e. if you find a cemetery transcription on the Internet, you would enter it as a Web site source. You would not include the cemetery as your source unless you had visited personally).
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