Genealogy Today: Citing sources key to credibility

Connie Lenzen has written another excellent article in The Columbian (Clark County, WA), Genealogy Today: Citing sources key to credibility, about the importance of citing your sources when doing your genealogy research. Connie uses a good analogy – comparing it to that of a sixth-grader doing a science project.


Taylor’s teacher said that she needed a minimum of three books and three Web sites. He gave her a list of guidelines. You know, put the author’s name first, then the name of the book, and so on.

Maybe it was because she had worked so hard on the project, but she spaced out and couldn’t figure out what to do. I always keep Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book, “Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian” (Genealogical Publishing Co.) by my computer. I opened it up and showed Taylor the examples in the book. Relief just poured from her as she said, “Oh, yes, that’s what it’s supposed to look like,” and she zipped through her list of books.

The Web sites caused a bit of a stress, but I had a copy of Mills’ “Quicksheet Citing Online Historical Resources Evidence! Style” (Genealogical Publishing Co.). Again, the examples helped Taylor, and she finished her bibliography.

I mentioned this because Connie mentioned one of the top 10 books any genealogist should have – Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian, from Elizabeth Shown Mills (also mentioned was the “Quicksheet Citing Online Historical Resources Evidence! Style”). How many times have you come across something on the web that maybe helpful, only to find there is no documentation, and the person publishing the information “got it from somebody else”?

It’s very frustrating when you take over genealogy research from somebody else only to find they did little to no source sitation, or it was done improperly and you end up going back through everything trying to figure out where they got what information and from whom.

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