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#1 Rosellainoz

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Posted 13 August 2015 - 09:11 PM

Oh dear, I have a headache just looking for my question. I can't find it, I give up.

 

My question is simple. How does one cite sources? Yes I know there are templates and freeform and all that jazz but none of this helps when you don't know what on earth you are doing. I never went to University and have never cited sources before so it is all double dutch to me. I do not understand the language of sources or how to set them out properly. I have a census source from England and Wales 1851. I would love to add this to my records but I do not have a clue how. It seems so simple on the surface but when I come to do it there are all these boxes to fill in. What goes where? and how does one figure it out?

 

Are there instructions, step by step somewhere to explain it from the ground up?



#2 zhangrau

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Posted 13 August 2015 - 10:34 PM

Rosellainoz, here's my approach to keeping my sources easy for me to enter and understand.

For background, I'll say that I did go to university (earned a Master of Architecture) and taught drafting, architecture, engineering, and other subjects for about 24 years at the high school and community college levels. My family and colleagues consider me to be very good with computers, etc.

However, I find the whole rigamarole of writing "proper" sources and citations to be exasperating. My decision was to SIMPLIFY my sources, keeping in mind that my goal is to document WHAT got cited, its AUTHOR, the PUBLISHER, and the REPOSITORY where I found the info.

If you've read the RM help file on Sources, Source Templates, Source Template Language, etc., then you've found that RM's capabilities in handling sources go way beyond that level of complexity. There are published works by Elizabeth Shown Mills and other authors that attempt to lay out a system of documenting all sources with very specific information. Is all of that complexity necessary? Well, if you want your work to be admired by university-trained readers, and if you ever want to submit your work to a genealogical society to get a professional certification, then YES. If your intent is to satisfy your own research and documentation needs, then MAYBE NOT. Without doubt, there are other forum members who think my method is inadequate for their needs, but it suits me just fine.

EXAMPLE ONE

On these forums, I'm known as a source lumper, which means I have one Master Source for a major item (the "1930 US census", for example). In this case, I constructed this Master Source using the freeform template, and here's what my Source List shows:
Title: 1930 US census
Footnote, Short Footnote, and Bibliography: 1930 Federal census, general heading for all citations from this census

When I cite this source, I put information into the Source Details - Page Number to indicate the locality, so one reference says "MA, Middlesex, Waltham, District 507 (lines 1-3)" This gives me the year, state, county, city/township/place and page location of the family group.
 
Then I download the scan of the census page to a folder (media\census\1930) and give it a unique name, in this case "1930_MA_george-e-gendron(line1)_4607666_01023.jpg" which gives me the year, state, head-of-household name, and the first line number of that family group. The string of numbers at the end are the filename assigned by Ancestry.com when I downloaded the scan, and help me to be sure to use unique filenames for every saved census page. I don't use spaces in filenames, - and _ read well enough, and match my 30+ years of computer habits.

Go to the Source - Media tab and use the [Add new media] button to link the photo to the Source Citation. Add an appropriate Caption, such as "1930 MA (lines 1-3)", and a Description, such as "George E. Gendron and family".
 
Finally, I copy the Ancestry.com index info for that census family group into the Detail text - Research Notes (or if a copy-&-paste is not available, I manually transcribe as much info as I think will support my source documentation.

My repository in this case is just "Ancestry.com" with their address & website (http://www.ancestry.com). That repository gets used for most of the source info I find while researching on Ancestry, but not everything. However, I won't elaborate on my variations to that at this point.

I then memorize this source citation and paste it into as many locations (persons and facts/events) as I find relevant: General Source for a person, Alternate Name, Birth, Census, Residence (if I record the street address), Occupation, and often Marriage (when the census gives the ages of the two spouses at time of marriage). Do this for every person in the family group for this census. Sometimes an entry into the fact/event Note box helps to explain what info I'm documenting.

EXAMPLE TWO

I have cited a LOT of obituaries over the years, and my method has evolved a bit, but here's my current approach:

  1. Find the obituary, either in print or online. (I'll discuss an obituary I found at http://www.legacy.com - although the name & dates are fake). These obituaries vary from being a very short Death Notice (with info only about the deceased, not parents or children) to an extended Obituary (giving 3 or more generations of family members). Even when the very short ones are called an obituary in the source's repository, I will more likely call it a Death Notice in my Source List. Some of the Legacy.com entries also include a photo of the deceased which I download and link to my source citation.
  2.In RM, navigate to the deceased's record, edit the person, and go to the General Sources.
  3. Select the button for [Add new source].
  4. Select the Source Type of "Book, Basic format" (which I marked as a favorite to put a star by the Source Type name, making it very easy to find).
  5. Fill in the known info:
     a. Author = /Anonymous/ (obituaries rarely name the actual author)            
     b. Title = Obituary - First Middle (Maiden) Surname 1920-2015 (full name with birth & death years)    
     c. rarely do I use the Subtitle
     d. Publish Place = This will be a City ST (such as Boston MA) of either: the newspaper, funeral home, or website where I found the obituary
     e. Publisher = the newspaper, funeral home, or website where I found the obituary
     f. Publish Date = the newspaper's publication date (if known) or else "Accessed 13 Aug 2015"
     g. copy my Title entry into the Source Details - Page box (yes, I know that I just duplicated that info, and it's pretty obvious in my footnotes, but I'm OK with that)
     h. select 1 or 2 Repositories:
        A. select (add if necessary) the newspaper or funeral home that published the obituary
        B. select the internet archive, such as Legacy.com, and then copy the obituary's URL into the Call Number box.
     i. If the obituary includes a photo, download it, and give a unique name: "2015_MI_marie-antoinette-wilkinson_230976sde.jpg". Notice that I gave the year and state of death, the deceased's name as recorded in the obituary, and left appended the filename as downloaded. That's enough info to allow a Windows Explorer search to find the image file, if I ever want to do that.
     j. Go to the Source - Media tab and use the [Add new media] button to link the photo to the Source Citation. Add an appropriate Caption (Marie Antoinette Wilkinson 1924-2015) and a Description (Downloaded 13 Aug 2015 from Publisher, via Legacy.com)
     k. Copy and paste (or transcribe) the obituary into the Detail text - Research Notes.
     l. Memorize the citation and paste it to as many locations as I think relevant (see my notes about that under my census source discussion).

 

*** Edited 14 Aug 2014 1:11 am for typos and grammatical errors.



#3 Rosellainoz

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Posted 13 August 2015 - 10:56 PM

Thank you,

 

That helps a bit. I think I like the idea of Source Lumping. I still think it is going to take a LOT of practice for me to get this anywhere near right. Ancestry.com seems to have their sources much easier to work out than does my heritage.com. I still have to figure those out but at least I can download the scanned pages, that helps.

 

Do universities do courses on citing sources? I'm beginning to think they should. It all is too complicated from everything I've seen. I watch High School students try to figure it out and even fail assignments because they couldn't get it right. Now that's just wrong.

 

I'll smile and just keep going :-)



#4 zhangrau

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Posted 13 August 2015 - 11:00 PM

I never took a course for learning to cite sources - my classes just assigned a reference book, like the MLA Style Guide ( http://www.mla.org/ ), and expected us to figure it out.

 

I told my students to use a website like Knight Cite ( http://www.calvin.ed...tcite/index.php ) which does a good job of simplifying the process of writing acceptable bibliographic citations.



#5 Laura

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Posted 14 August 2015 - 01:43 AM

What you need for sources are the elements that identify what the source is, the location you found the source and what you found in the source.

 

The important thing is to be able to go back to that source and find it again.

 

Create a Free form Master source.  Don't worry about the style [the order the elements of the source are entered in the sentence] for now.

 

Imagine that you go to a courthouse and found a marriage record.  What do you need to find that record again?

 

Courthouse, Courthouse office, Address, City, County, State

Marriage record, Book/Volume, Page, Persons of interest [couple who got married]

 

I use Free form sources so in my database, Courthouse, Courthouse office, Address, City, County, State and Marriage record would be the Master source. 

 

The order each element is entered in the sentence and punctuation used is the Style either mine or someone else.

 

Book/Volume, Page, Persons of interest [couple who got married] would be entered in the Page box of the source detail.

 

What I found goes in the Source detail, Research note.

 

In a source template, each part of the source is typed into a separate box and RM constructs the source sentences.  There are hints in each box about what to type in each box before you start typing.  The sentence in the right pane is filled in as you enter the data in the boxes.



#6 Don Newcomb

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Posted 14 August 2015 - 05:25 AM

One issue that you need to understand is that the system RM uses for sources encourages you to create a new master source for ever scrap of paper you encounter. If you want to cite an obituary, the particular issue (date) of the newspaper becomes a master source. If you cite a census as a source, the exact microfilm becomes a master source. If you use both microfilm and digitized images, they both become master sources.  You end up having almost one master source for every citation.

 

My main database contains almost 25,000 citations. If I were to use the system the way RootsMagic intended, I would probably have 15,000 - 20,000 master sources. This is far more than their source management system can reasonably handle. For this reason, I have adopted my own system. Each decennial US census (e.g. 1850, 1860, 1940) is a master source. I have a general census source where I lump state and foreign censuses. I have one master source for obituaries and one source for other newspaper articles. Generally, books (genealogies, county histories, etc) are entered as their own master source but it does not matter if I'm looking at the print version or digitized copy of the same edition. By doing this, I have kept my master sources below 1,000, so that there is at least some chance that the source manager can find them.



#7 Nettie

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Posted 14 August 2015 - 05:33 AM

Two other suggestions:  

From another genealogist on Facebook Do Over Discussions

Citations AS Easy as ABC:

  • A: Author/Editor
  • B: Book/Magazine / Article Title
  • C: City /Company
  • D: Date of Copyright /Date Viewed
  • E. Entire page numbers/ url or path from the internet

 

Or Evidence Explained  web page https://www.evidenceexplained.com  or Thomas W Jones suggestions: 

 

Why is to find it again = Make sure you write enough so you can find it again.

Who? is Author, creator or informant

What? is Title  of

When? is dates = published, copyright, unpublished

Where is? location/place =  location of source, internet, library, repository

Where in?  is page numbers 

 

Can be a complicated subject, but a lot on the internet on how to do this. 

 

Good Luck...


Genealogy:
"I work on genealogy only on days that end in "Y"." [Grin!!!]
from www.GenealogyDaily.com.
"Documentation....The hardest part of genealogy"
"Genealogy is like Hide & Seek: They Hide & I Seek!"
" Genealogists: People helping people.....that's what it's all about!"
from http://www.rootsweb....nry/gentags.htm
Using FO and RM since FO2.0 


#8 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 14 August 2015 - 08:21 AM

This is a very interesting discussion. I have found my approach to citing sources to have evolved through the years, which is just a fancy way of saying I have changed my mind several times about some of the issues associated with citing sources. Here are some of the issues I think are important, and my comments will probably mirror some of the earlier comments in this thread.

  • Citing sources ought not to be as complicated as it is. To that end, I direct your attention to Jeff La Marca's web site at http://www.simplecit....com/index.html  I have to admit that I don't use Jeff's actual source templates, but I very much like his ideas and I use his ideas extensively.
  • In order to cite a source, you first have to have a pretty good idea what a source actually is. If you study the matter extensively, I think you will find that there is not as much agreement among various experts about what constitutes a source as you might hope. I have ultimately concluded that in order to have a source that I have to have some sort of document - a piece of paper, if you will - and that the piece of paper is my source. Of course, the "piece of paper" might be a computer file, and it might be a computer file that I have created which which has never actually appeared on paper. For example, if I call a cousin on the phone to get some information about his or her family, then I will make a document on the computer to summarize the phone call. The document is something like a Microsoft Word document or a text file that becomes my "piece of paper". My cousin is the source, with a date of the personal interview being included in the information I record. More typically, I have images of census records, images of family bibles, images of death certificates, images of birth certificates, images of court house marriage records, images of deeds, images of tax records, images of wills, images of settlements, images of military records, images of military pensions, images of newspaper obituaries, images of obituaries that appeared on the Web instead of in newspapers, sound recordings of personal interviews I have with relatives, photographs of tomb stones, GPX files from my GPS device which gives the location of graves, images of pages from books of all kinds (family histories, cemetery enumerations, etc.), and just lots of images and other files.
  • Having identified your sources, a citation is just a sentence that identifies the source - you found John Doe's approximate birth date in an 1850 U.S. Census entry from Anderson County, South Carolina on page 23 of the census enumeration for Anderson County for that year. To be really complete your citation sentence needs to specify whether you found your census information for John Doe on a reel of microfilm at the library and which reel, or whether you found the information on a site on the Internet (and which site), etc. What books like "Evidence Explained" are really all about is how to create these citation sentences properly. As others have said, just be sure that your citation sentences include enough information to find your sources again. Your sources are the important thing, and your citations sentences are just ways to get back to the sources.
  • It's very easy to get all hung up about the creation of these citation sentences. It is the case that all academic research and all academic writing uses citation sentences. It is also the case that there are numerous different styles for creating citation sentences. For every expert on how to create citation sentences, there is an equal and opposite expert. Most experts on the styles of citation sentences for genealogy suggest similar sentence styles, but the citation styles for genealogy are not all exactly the same. Don't get hung up on the exact styles and getting the commas and semi-colons just right. Rather, worry more about actually having sources and actually citing those sources.
  • "Evidence Explained" is sort of the bible for how to do citations sentences for genealogy. I keep my copy next to my computer at all times. It's a huge and complicated book which is over 1200 pages long. To tell you the truth, I don't like it very much. I suppose that being a genealogist who doesn't like "Evidence Explained" very much is like being a Christian who doesn't like the Bible very much or like being a Muslim who doesn't like the Koran very much. It's like a contradiction in terms, but I can't help it. I very much prefer Elizabeth Shown Mills' earlier book called "Evidence" which is much simpler and which is just a little more than 100 pages long. I also keep a copy of "Evidence" next to my computer at all times.
  • To me the problem with "Evidence Explained" is not just that it's too long and too complicated, it's too "abstract" (for lack of a better term). For example, you will search in vain in the the table of contents and in the index for information on how to cite an obituary. That's because to "Evidence Explained", there is no such thing as an obituary. Rather, "Evidence Explained" provides information on how to cite a newspaper article. It's assumed that you will know to treat an obituary as just a special case of a newspaper article. I think that's wrong on just so many levels, not the least of which that many obituaries never appear in newspapers at all any more and rather appear only on a the web site of a funeral home. The way I describe this is that it's the "obituariness" of an obituary that's important, not its "newspaper articleness". And so it goes throughout "Evidence Explained" -- too complicated and too abstract -- in my humble opinion.
  • You will read much discussion about source lumping and source splitting. There has been some good discussion already in this thread. The description earlier in this thread of a source splitter as being someone who treats every single scrap of paper as a separate Master Source is apt. However, I disagree that RM itself directs you in one particular direction or another as far as the splitting or lumping of your sources. I think that RM itself supports either approach just fine. However, many of the online Web sites containing genealogical records will provide you with a citation sentence that you can copy and paste into RM. I do think that copying and pasting these citation sentences into RM in this manner leads you very much into the direction of being a source splitter. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of opinion.
  • I tend to think of RM's built-in source templates as being very similar to "Evidence Explained" -- too big and too complicated. They are intended to make the creation of citation sentences simpler, but I think they end up making the creation of citation sentences more complicated. Many very good RM users will disagree with my assessment of the situation, and many very good RM users are extremely happy with RM's built-in source templates. So don't take my negative review to heart without doing your own evaluation. For a very long time, I used the RM's free form source template, which suited my needs and my preferences very well. I have since switched over to using source templates of my own design which are much simpler than the ones that are built-in. My own source templates are similar to but not identical to Jeff La Marca's. That's the nice thing about RM's source template facility. You don't have to use the built-in source templates. You can design your own. Or you can just use the free form template.

Jerry



#9 Laura

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Posted 14 August 2015 - 10:14 AM

One issue that you need to understand is that the system RM uses for sources encourages you to create a new master source for ever scrap of paper you encounter. If you want to cite an obituary, the particular issue (date) of the newspaper becomes a master source. If you cite a census as a source, the exact microfilm becomes a master source. If you use both microfilm and digitized images, they both become master sources.  You end up having almost one master source for every citation.
 
My main database contains almost 25,000 citations. If I were to use the system the way RootsMagic intended, I would probably have 15,000 - 20,000 master sources. This is far more than their source management system can reasonably handle. For this reason, I have adopted my own system. Each decennial US census (e.g. 1850, 1860, 1940) is a master source. I have a general census source where I lump state and foreign censuses. I have one master source for obituaries and one source for other newspaper articles. Generally, books (genealogies, county histories, etc) are entered as their own master source but it does not matter if I'm looking at the print version or digitized copy of the same edition. By doing this, I have kept my master sources below 1,000, so that there is at least some chance that the source manager can find them.


I have 913 Master sources and 33,404 citations and have no trouble finding a Master source in the list.

My census Master sources are Year, State, County, NARA # and that is how my source name is set up. I don't have any trouble finding the Master source for the census I want to use.

The books source name with some exceptions are Book, book name, author as I am more likely to remember a books name than the author. Books are grouped together in the list.

Family History book source names are Family History, book nane, authur/compiler.

Bibles source names are Bible, whose bible it was, whatever else I might need to identify the bible.

Books about a specific state and county start with the state and county, subject, book name.

Newspaper source names are Newspqper, City, County, State. The obituary or other article data goes in the Source details.

Vital records source names are State, County type, source. Page number, etc. for a specific person goes into the Source details.

Essentially, the Master source list is my filing cabinet. What the source name starts with,like Books, is a folder in that cabinet, the second part is a subfolder, with other subfolders as needed.

Where the user chooses to make the break between what is entered in the Master source and what is entered in the Source details determins how many Master sources they have.

If I choose to just use Master sources and not Source details, I would have approximately 33,404 Master sources depending on how many times I reused a Master source for other people mentioned in that Master source on that specific page, etc.

I use Free form sources.

But, if I used program defined source templates the choice is made for me which is the whole point in having the templates. RM makes the decisions.

I could always copy the source and change it to my liking and use the user defined template.