Genealogy Wise

The Genealogy & Family History Social Network

I’m curious about how others source. I make sure I put as much information as needed so someone else can retrace my work, and correct me if it’s wrong.

With the Census I get year, roll number, sheet and line numbers, family number, date, enumeration district, supervisor’s district, and anything else I think will help in documenting the family.

So, my question is how do you record your sources?

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I usually save the image to my computer, and if I am going to send it as a source for my grandmother, I transcribe the information for her so she knows what she is looking at.

But, if I was going to record a source, I might do a timeline for each person, and list the sources that document the timeline and list every bit of detail for that source.
Not only do I include all the bibliographic or other usual information, I include the repository. This becomes important when you discover things like the fact that not all microfilm editions of a particular census are the same. For example, I found out in the course of researching my forthcoming book on the colonial, territorial, and state censuses of Florida, that the microfilm of the 1935 Florida state census held by the Alachua County Library (Gainesville) is printed in negative (white on black) rather than in positive (black writing on white background), while that held by the Jacksonville Public Library is printed in positive. Also, the edition at the Alachua library is by itself. The edition of the 1935 state census at the Jacksonville library is on the same rolls as the 1945 state census!

So in cases like this, it can be very important to record the repository as well as the usual source information.
Your so right. Many times I have had to hunt down a source because the repository
isn’t included. I too put the repository, as you said, they aren’t the same everywhere.

I know someone who sources the census with just the year, names and ages of the family. She didn’t know until recently (when I told her) to put everything down. When trying to help her, I had to start from the beginning, adding the proper sources. What a job that was
That's the way I learned! Lol! I remember, early on, I went to the library and found something really neat, and wrote all the information down. All, that is, except the source! Later on, I looked at the note and had to ask myself, "Where did I get this?"

The school of hard knocks, genealogy style!
I have used Legacy as my software right from the beginning; and since in the training they always emphasized the sourcing standard from Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills, that's what I cut my teeth on. If you're not familiar with the book, it sets forth widely accepted standards for citation (& analysis - but I guess the title kind of gives that away...:-))

I bought a copy of the book, and did my best to use it as my "citation bible," but now that I have SourceWriter, I barely need the book any more. (SourceWriter is a feature of Legacy 7 Deluxe that provides fill-in-the-blank templates for each type of source you might use - the templates are based on the Evidence! standards.)

When using SourceWriter, it prompts for all of the "necessary" info for that type of source. I often fill in some of the "optional" fields with additional details that I think might help me or someone else in finding the source again. I also like to include some notes about my analysis of the source data, or how the source relates to the data to which it is attached. Finally, I always give the source a confidence score (another Legacy feature, which I think other programs have, too.)

Even if you don’t use Legacy, I highly recommend the Elizabeth Shown Mills book. You can get it from Amazon and others.
Yes, indeed!

Elizabeth Shown Mills is my idol! (grin)

She's also a wonderful speaker, so if you ever get a chance to hear her, do so!

Most genealogy programs these days base their sourcing template on Mills, or at least have a feature that you can select to do so. The Master Genealogist does, and so does Family Tree Maker.

Evidence! is an excellent book! Everyone even mildly interested in genealogy or in research in general should own a copy.

Mills has produced a much, MUCH thicker book called Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. It is aimed much more at the historian (Mills is a historian as well as a genealogist), but anyone doing serious research should see that book. Frankly, I think it blows Turabian and other sourcing guides out of the water, and as a history student at the University of North Florida, I think the department should adopt it as the standard.

If you are interested in the history of Mills's thoughts on the process of citing sources and examining evidence, check your library for the September 1999 issue (Volume 87, Number 3) of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. It's a special issue called "Evidence." Mills wrote the lead article titled "Working with Historical Evidence: Genealogical Principles and Standards."

Probably everyone in this group would enjoy the article.
Recording our sources is both time consuming and necessary. It is so frustrating if you know you
read something about Uncle John and can't find the reference where you read it.
I use both the computer program (Tree Maker, Legacy or other) to record the individual source.
I also back it up on cd's and use Gensmarts to keep a record of on-line sources. A data-base file
also helps. I did make paper copies of "everything" and my boxes grew too much to deal with,
and I found so many duplicates that I recopied not realizing I had already printed...lol.
I now scan the paper to my hard drive, into file folders by name, census, type of record, or other title I need to
keep a clear knowledge of my data.. A computer file does not take up much room so I can make duplicate copies and place into multiple files. I then make a backup cd or dvd copy in case something gets lost.
I have found it so much easier to go through the hundreds of photo files on my computer than to open
box after box and try to find the paper I am looking for.
Hope this helps. I am so enjoying reading all the great ideas on this site.
While computers are just nifty for keeping files and scans of documents and all sorts of other stuff, we have to remember that information science is a field in which change is occurring at a rapid rate, and we have to keep up with our file storage. I have seen 5.5" floppy disks, 3.25" floppy disks, all sorts of tape storage schemes, Zip drives, and now CD-ROM, and CD-ROM is about the only one that survives today. Now we have 2 gigabyte USB drives that are the size of the last knuckle of your pinkie (my husband has one of these) and 2 GB SD cards that need an adapter to fit in your camera or telephone.

We have to keep up with the changes in data storage, "migrating" our data to the newer form each time, or it will eventually be unreadable.

This is why I am a firm believer in the paper backup.
Let see if I can post today, since our server is still acting up.

I have an external hard drive that I use when going to SLFHL. It’s not to big, it holds a lot, and then I can put the info where it needs to go when I get home or to a laptop. I back up so often my husband thinks I have an Olympic gold metal in Genealogy Back Ups.

Elizabeth Shown Mills is also my idol J When I first started genealogy, sources were added, but not to the extent they are by today’s standards. It was a lot of hard knocks for most of us that started doing the complete sourcing we have today. I am now going back to my first finds and re-sourcing them properly. Boy is it trouble after 30+ years of research.

I know what works for one person doesn’t necessary work for another, but we all have great ways to keep track, and if it helps just one person, then we have done a good thing.
I annotate my sources directly on the documents, which I scan and sort by record number. This is convenient because I use PAF to record them on my computer. I back up these entries on hard copy (like in olden times)... My immediate family only immigrated to the US (New England) in the 1920's. Other family branches located earlier in HI & CA. Still others arrived later a settled in Canada and Bermuda. Apart from original family documents - most of my research consists of microfilmed parish records (Portuguese), early government and court records published in almanacs, historical documents, published genealogies, and biographies. I have had some success with researching Ellis Island records, and state, and federal census records.
Dan, I found your comment, "I annotate my sources directly on the documents, which I scan and sort by record number" very interesting. Could you elaborate on your system a little more?

I am getting better at properly formating source citations in FTM although FTM will not let me exactly follow the formats in Evidence!. What I would like to do is include a source citation for my electronic documents. For example, if I download a census page from ancestry.com (jpg file), I want to include the source info right in the file. I have not come up with a good way to do this. Any suggestions?
Hello Victor,

I haven't found a way to include the source with the jpeg file, either. Instead, when I save a jpeg from Ancestry, I also follow the process below:

What I've been doing (since I use Ancestry at the library and can't access it from home, which is where I typically transcribe the records I find and do my citation) is save the "record" page in Ancestry, since that usually has the citation data at the bottom.

You may already know this, but you can save an offline version of most webpages. In Internet Explorer, go to either File or Page and click on Save As... and the Save Webpage dialog box will pop up. It will usually have a pre-filled file name - I change this so that the webpage will be listed alphabetically with the image that I downloaded. It saves the webpage as a .mht (Web archive, single file.)

I'd love to know if there's a better way.

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