Monday, November 30, 2015

Source Citations Made Easy

This is an excellent article from FamilyTreeUniversity. It is actually a new course they are promoting, but taken directly from their newsletter is the following:

"Vanessa Wieland
Online Editor
Family Tree University

I had no idea how important source citations would be in my genealogy until I started working with my sister to find our family members. Trying to figure out where I found that information originally means I'm having to redo a lot of my research. But this time around, I know better and I'm making sure I cite every source properly.

Source citations can strike fear into the hearts of genealogists (as well as flashbacks to sophomore year English class), but it need not be all that difficult. Source citations are important to our research and for those who come after us. Once you learn the five elements of a source citation, they'll become something you incorporate naturally into your research and it will make your genealogy stronger.

Why Cite Sources?
As you write something for your family (a blog, a newsletter, or anything, to be honest with you) keep in mind that each time you state a fact that is not common knowledge, you will need to cite your source. Others who read your work will want to know where your information came from. How did you know Aunt Edna was married four times? Did you find it in her obit or did someone tell you? Did you see the marriage certificates? By citing a source, you are telling your readers that you've done the work and you can show them where you found that information.

In our course, Source Citations for Genealogists, you'll learn that there is nothing to fear. Instructor Shannon Combs-Bennett will teach you why source citation is important, as well as how to create citations for different records and how to develop a template to expedite future source citations. Read an excerpt from the course below!

5 Elements of a Genealogy Source Citation

While there are suggested ways you should do a source citation there is not a true wrong way or right way. It comes down to adhering to the components of a citation listed below. Once you know these, you will be comfortable enough to adjust yours as needed when you run into an out-of-the-ordinary record.

There are 5 key elements to a successful source citation. Most should be pretty simple to understand, but let’s go through them one by one.

These elements are:

• Who created the information (author, editor, transcriber, etc.)
• What is the title of the source
• When the record was created or published
• Where in the record the information is located (volume, page, etc.)
• Where is the source physically located (archive, library, etc.)

Let’s break this down a bit and further define each component.

“Who” specifically refers to the author or creator of the source. It may be a person or it could be an organization. There are two reasons you wouldn’t list a “who.”
• If it is unknown, like the writer of a historic newspaper article, which typically did not list writer’s names.
• If it is the same entity that published the item and the “who” is also the title of the work.

“What” refers to the source’s title. Underlining, italics and capitalization rules for publications apply here. If the item does not have a title, we create a description for it. The description lets others know exactly what the material is. For example “Letter written by John Doe to his wife Jane.” If you think the title doesn’t make it clear what type of a source it is, you can add descriptive words after it such as database, transcript, image, etc.

“When” refers to the date the media was published. Years are used for books. Months, quarters, or seasons are added for journals and magazines. Full dates are used for newspapers, downloads of online information, and unpublished sources if applicable. If the item is undated we can state that by using the letters ND for “no date.” However, if we can estimate a publication date, then we should try to do so. This can be done by simply showing the estimated date range or writing “likely the 1880s.”

“Where in” refers to the specific place in the source where the information is located. The place is a page number, volume number, chapter title, or etc. If the record is an unbound source, or has no page numbers, you can identify the information on the page you are citing by describing it. For instance “birth dates chronologically listed on loose page in file.”

“Where is” refers to the specific physical location of the source. Did you find it online, in a library, at an archive, or is it held privately? This can get very complicated, but remember, you want to work from small to large. Start with the collection name (the smallest where) and work your way up to the state or country (the largest where) listing all the information about the location of the source as you go.

Once you have these 5 elements, learn more about source citations and how you can incorporate them into your genealogy with Source Citations for Genealogists. Soon, they'll become second nature!"

Anyone interested in enrolling in this course


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