10 March 2011

Sourcing Genealogical Information

My last blog was on different free websites to help aid you in your genealogical adventures.  Today, I will talk about sourcing that information.

Sourcing info is easy, and there really is no right or wrong way to do it. Often times you will need to have at least some of the following written down, whether it be on the family sheet your are working with, in notes that you have in a file, or if you use a software program, add it to the source list and then attach it to whatever data you need sourced:
  • Author
  • Title
  • Publisher's name and location
  • Publication date
  • Location of the source and identifying information (for example, the library where you found a book and its call number, or the website where you found it)
  • Specific information for the piece of data you found (page number, line number, web address, database name and line number, whatever will identify that specific fact)
The good news is if you do a majority of your research from online databases, they will usually have most of this information available at the end of the database or somewhere on their page.  If you can't find all of the data, don't worry too much.  Write down what you can from the source to help identify it.  That way, if you have to come back to that source later, you know where to look to find the info you need (not to mention it will help you solve the inevitable arguments of "Where did you find that date of birth for my Aunt so-and-so?  It's wrong!" should you choose to share your info online.)  Don't worry about having correct citations and perfect formats, unless you are the kind of person who lives for that kind of perfection.

Here are some helpful links as to why you should source data:

Sourcing — The Key to Your Family Detective Work
Why Bother? The Value of Documentation in Family History Research
Source Citations in Genealogy: Church or Cult?

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