Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cite Your Sources!

We have all done it. We are rushing to leave the courthouse or library before the doors lock and we quickly make a copy of that last record, thinking " I will remember later where I got this." 

BUT WE DON'T REMEMBER! Then later, maybe years later, we pull that piece of paper out of our files and wonder, "Where did I get that??"

Recently, I have been helping a lady who is applying for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution -DAR. She has been researching her family for years! So why does she need my help? She is trying to retrace her research because she didn't cite her sources! So now she brings us a piece of paper and asks "Where did I get this?" Mostly, we have been able to find the copy in the library's resources. But now always. I am sure some of her research came from elsewhere.

So, when we relocate her original source, we put the citation on the back of the copy, in pencil.  So what information goes into a genealogy source citation? The minimum information should be:
  • The name of the resource. Its title. What it is called. Iinclude page number, volumes, publisher, & publication date. Examples:
    • Tombstone Inscriptions from the Cemeteries of Medina County, Medina County Genealogical Society. 1983.
    • Marriage Records of Medina County 1818-1965 (microfilm), include the volume and page number. If the film is numbered, you include that information.
  • The repository where you found the item. Examples:
    • Medina County District Library
    • (online database)
    • Medina County Court House
  • The url of any online resource.
  • The date you found the item.
So save yourself some headaches and put the citation on any item as soon as you discover it.

Sources for more information:

  • Cite Your Sources by Richard S. Lackey. 1980. This is the primer that emphasized source citation. Too old now to be useful now (no Internet back then), it still needs to be acknowledged.
  • Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Her first book on genealogy citations was published in 1997. It does not include the comprehensive listings for online resources that her later book does. At 124 pages, it is also less intimidating.
  • Evidence Explained Citing Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace By Elizabeth Shown Mills is THE book on how to city any genealogy source you might use for your genealogy research. It is now on its 3rd edition and at over 800 pages, can seem intimidating. But if you want to know how to cite your Great Aunt Martha's wedding dress that has been passed down to you, this is the book!
  • Cyndi's List from the Grande Dame of online genealogy, she includes multiple links to online information for citing your genealogical resources. 
  • Dear Myrtle and if you want an alternative to Evidence Explained, or if you like stirring up controversy, this popular blogger has links to other citation styles.
These books are available for use inside the Franklin Sylvester Room
at the Medina Library

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