Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lesson 4: Document, document, document!!

Kinds of Sources

Once you have the information written down on the form or entered into your genealogy software program you will need to document the source of the information in the various documents.  Sources can be classified in various ways:
·         Primary source – a source that is recorded at or near the time of the event and the information is provided by someone who was an eyewitness to the event.
·         Secondary source – a source that was recorded some time after the event and / or the information is provided by someone that did not witness the event.
·         Direct evidence – a document that states the information directly.  It directly states the information such as the date and place of birth or death.
·         Indirect evidence – information when taken as a whole allows one to draw a reliable conclusion.
·         Original source – a genuine document in which the information was documented at the time the event took place such as a marriage license or certificate; a baptism record written by the official performing the sacrament at the time of the event; a land deed signed by the grantor.
·         Derivative source – is not the original document recording the event.  It can be a transcription, a photocopy, a photograph, microfilm or other reproduction of the document.
·         Transcription – is an exact copy of the document; word for word, including punctuation, misspellings, and is not altered from the original or copy of the original.
·         Extract – is a summary of the information in the document and may include word for word copies of pertinent information.
·         Abstract – describes the content of the original source, but only includes what the person abstracting the information believes is essential information.

Formatting of citation information

There are two excellent books on citing your genealogical sources.  The first book is the currently accepted practice of source citation:
·         Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007.  ISBN:  978-0-8063-1781-6.
·         Evidence:  Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.  ISBN:  0-8063-1543-1.
Both books are worth having.  The older book is easier to carry along with you to repositories so you can write the proper citation on any records you are photocopying.  The “Good Practices of Genealogical Citation” rule is to put the citation on the front of the copy of each page so that any subsequent copies will have the citation.

Links to articles about Genealogical Citation

Why should I cite my sources – more information:

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