Genealogy

The Lovely World of Source Citations

This past weekend I spent a few hours each day adding documents I’ve accumulated over the past few years into my software program (I know, I know, I should be doing this all along but sometimes you just get so excited about adding a new family you find you don’t add all the paperwork too).

Along with adding all the censuses, birth certificates, death certificates, and anything else I could find, I made sure I cited where I found these documents.

Besides making your life pure torture (or so it can seem as I know there are times I often get stumped) citing your sources is important for two main reasons.

You Can Duplicate Your Research

Duplicating your search and re-finding your documents are very important when you are trying to get into a lineage society. They need to re-trace all your steps to make sure your proof does exactly that – proves that your person is really YOUR person.

So You Know Where You Have Already Looked

By keeping track of where you have already looked, you know not to look there again (at least for a specific person).

It can also help you go back to a document where you may have already found information on George Henry Fesler, maybe I can find some details on his brother John in the same document?

This is the profile of my 3rd Great Grandfather, George Henry Fesler. Most of these events/documents were placed into it just this weekend (he’s been in there a while as he is person 44 out of 1,741).

If you look above at the photo of my 3rd-great-grandfather’s profile in my program, you can see I have a lot of censuses for him (it helps he was a veteran so I even have an 1890 for him).

But if you look at the row of “books” those represent that the event or source has a citation. (I’ve highlighted it with a square box below).

Citations Really Aren’t Bad to Do

If you have a genealogy software program, completing citations is much easier than you think. Many have a step by step form that you complete so you are able to complete them painlessly.

The information that you need for the citations can be found on the title page of a book, and if you look closely on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org you can find the citations you need.

Here is an example of the information you need for citations from Ancestry.com
Here is how the citation information is found on FamilySearch.org

If citations weren’t important, Elizabeth Shown Mills wouldn’t have written “Evidence Explained”, which is an 892 page book all about how to cite any type of source – from books to newspapers to webpages. Cyndi’s List is another place you can go to find answers on source citations (and most everything else you are looking for in relation to genealogy). Click here for an entire heading on Citing Sources. Family Tree Webinars even has two webinars dedicated to citations (one is on how to do citations in the Legacy Family Tree software). Lastly, here is a link to Amy Johnson Crow’s podcast she did called “Citing Sources Without Stressing Out“.

As you can see, you have a variety of options to learn an easy way of making sure you have good citations. I find the more I do them, the easier they become. I guess you could say repetition is key.

I wish you all luck going forward and you all become pros in the art of citing sources.