Genealogy Wise

The Genealogy & Family History Social Network

I am struggling with learning to be an accurate, reliable searcher and recorder of our genalogy and family history. So much of the information (family stories) that my sister and I heard, as well as the stories my husband and sister-in-law heard, have turned out to be so much smoke. I want to leave a solid trail for my grandchildren and hers.

It is obvious to me that research must have sources cited so that others can verify or expand on my work. I learned of Evidence! and immediately purchased it; then I learned of the Quick Sheets. The examples seem pretty clear cut until I start to apply them!

I'm a new researcher — so new that the only researched people meeting GPStandards or me and my husband!.That means that I'm now concentrating on my parents and his parents. Most of my research just now is focused on census records. When I have located (or probably located) our parents' generation in all available census records, I will have a good idea where to go to (online or in person) in order to find facts like birth certificates, death records, land records, marriage records, and similar items in the paper trails. It's no use hoping to find my mother-in-laws parents mentioned in the Morganfield, Kentucky newspapers, since the census shows that she mostly grew up in neighboring Webster county. (She always mentioned Morganfield when she talked about growing up.)

So now I'm beginning to have a collection of census records that show our parents and their siblings, their parents plus those siblings, and some for THEIR parents (our great grandparents) in my efforts to place these families in time and space.

The QuickSheets by Elizabeth Shown Mills, published as aids to "citing online historical resources" list three types of entries: Source List Entry; Full Reference Note; and Short Reference Note. I can build a good template for any of these styles in my software program (in fact, I have the ability to build all three — I just need to name each style so that I can pick the right one for my note in the appropriate place).

The Full Reference Note would be the note that tells other researchers just what was used, just where the repository is, the exact roll, or exact census page, and so on. I'm fairly sure it should contain the information that my husband has enhanced the downloaded image for our ease in studying it. The Short Reference Note would be what you use when you refer to this particular image in additional instances. WHAT is the "Source List Entry"?

Also, where do you actually USE each form? My instinct is to save the Full Reference Note for "final" printouts of Family Group Sheets and for end notes for each "chapter" of the report (Register, Ahnantafel, or Descendant-syle, or what have you) that you are turning into a Family History, with the Short Reference Note used for following citations.

That would probably mean that the Source List Entry turns out to be what you use in your software to attach to facts and events that will generate these other reports. And also that the Source List Entry would be what shows up in the Research Logs. Am I on the right track?

If that is the case, I suspect I need to keep the Full - and Short Reference Notes in a separate word processing document, keyed to the source number that my software generates for the Source List Entry.

I feel like I'm thrashing around, trying to find my way through prickly bushes here. Am I by chance on the right track in using these citation forms?


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I have another question about source citations.

I am (currently) assuming that I am on the right track about the use of the Source List entry — since no one has yet answered my earlier questions.

I have selected the following format for a Source List entry (this is an actual citation)
"1850 Census," Indiana, Wabash County, Chester Twp., (image page 11 of 37), 7 Sep 1850, Digital Download, Ancestrycom @ http:/ 4 Nov, 2000

Does anyone have any problems following this. Should I use "1 June 1850" (which is the official census date) instead of "7 Sep 1850" (which is the actual day the enumerator listed the details)?

Help would be much appreciated.
First off, I am no expert by any means but here are my comments for what they are worth.

I use FTM Version 16, yes I am behind the times and FTM 2010 is on my Christmas list. I too try to follow the formating from Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Evidence Explained." I use Source List entry to capture basic info about the record type.

For example my Souce List entry for the 1836 France Census reads, "1836 France Census, France. Aube. Pel-et-Der. digital images. Archives Departemental de Aube, Les Archive de l'Aube (' This way I can use this one source entry for every fact I gather from this census record. Then I use the Full Refernce Note to capture the details.

For example, "1836 France Census, France. Aube. Pel-et-Der. digital images. , Archives Departemental de Aube, Les Archive de l'Aube ( p.11, no.244, family 68, Quirin Francois Carre; (accessed October 23, 2009)."

This all may not be exactly correct, but I am somewhat handcuffed by FTM formatting. I think the important point is that some future researcher could find the record.
Thank you for your help.

I agree with you that the point of standardizing your citations is to help future researchers (and perhaps yourself, in case you need to recheck) follow your research trail.

Your example of the Full Reference Note, gives the accessed date; just yesterday I discovered that the accessed date is what was being used in the Elizabeth Shown Mills examples I was working with.

I have managed to formulate 4 citation templates (email attachment, privately printed book, census, and electronic source of Death Certificates) that seem to be meeting my needs. So now I feel a bit happier about my progress. I could probably go faster but I like to let my sample sit around awhile then look at it again. In that way, I'm sure that it still means the same thing to me when it's "cold."

After all, the goal is useful consistency, not speed of production.

Again, thank you for your help.

I am laughing at our thread. We must be 2 of a kind. I think I spend way too much time trying to get the citation right, probably more time than it took to find and enter the fact. As they say, 'the devil is in the details."

I would be interested in seeing your templates. How are you using them?
Shame on me, somehow I missed the November 13 posts until just before the start of Jim Avery's PA chat last night. This whole discussion is now so full of ideas that I have found helpful that I took the time today to make copies of each post to include in a section of my "Genealogy Wise" notebook.

Victor expressed an interest in seeing my templates.
I made a screen capture of the way my specific software (Reunion for Macintosh) allows me to set up the titles a source entry. Reunion has a standard list of such titles, but it allows you to create new ones; it also allows you to arrange them in the order you desire. I think this is probably common to most software programs today.

But my real template is in a series of pages in my word processing document. Here I have a table which shows the titles (heading) I am using for that particular source as well as the entries for the specific source which I used to construct the template. Following that I have written out my thought processes as I constructed this particular citation style. I than have used the same data for the other two citation styles which appear on the two Quick Sheets developed by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

This double example is the 1930 census which is a citation style I expect to make lots of use of; it happens to be my first (and so far, only) appearance in a census return.

My second example is for an email attachment a very generous cousin sent me when I was just launching my voyage into genealogical studies. It is also the first template I worked on.

I will proofread my other two templates (I noticed a HUGE error in one of them just now) and then post a second set of templates as soon as possible.

Since I last posted, I have downloaded the computer-based (pdf) version of Elizabeth Shown Mills Evidence Explained, 1st edition. I have spent time yesterday and today studying Chapter 1, looking for those parts of that chapter which I can assimilate into my working methods right now. I'm sure that as my skills grow, I will be returning to this chapter again and again in order to refine them more closely. Since Chapter 1 is about finding and analyzing evidence, rather than about forming citations, the book hasn't affected my templates at this time.

Here are the other two templates I have mentioned. These two examples show a line in parentheses which indicates the type of citation the template covers. This line now also appears on the two citations I have already posted.

The first template is the citation for the widely distributed hard-bound, privately printed Stricklers of Pennslvania. Information for the book was collected by questionnaire and no sources citations were given. I have known since the book was published that the information isn't accurate (the entries for my immediate family are incorrect in birth dates) but is appears to be reasonably accurate in the relationships described. My interest in the book (and the only thing I have used it for) is in the six and a half pages at the beginning of Chapter 8, starting on page 390. This section gives information on my father's family; I have used it to collect names and relationships which are to be subjected to additional research before they become accepted entries in our family tree.

The second template is for the digital image of the death certificate for my mother's maternal grandmother.

I hope that these four templates will be of help to other folks working (struggling?) with sources.






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