Evidence Explained Cannot Contain Everything

Simply put, Evidence Explained  cannot contain citations to every possible source on the planet. Sometimes one has to use it as a guide and do a little thinking for one’s self. That’s particularly true when a new set of materials becomes available, particularly in online format.

Citing the Ostfriesian insurance materials on Ancestry.com has got me to thinking about what I need to create a citation for those materials. That’s best done by browsing the materials before I craft a citation for them. Simply looking only at my first “find” in the records is not enough for me to format a citation.


Can’t use the URL as my citation. No one is going to type that in and it could easily change.

And I simply can’t use the tediously long web address for the specific item of interest. No one’s going to retype it into find it and it can easily change. I need to do more for a citation that simply copy an url.


The format of the records

I need to determine how these records are organized and how they were maintained. Sometimes this is easy to do and sometimes it isn’t. The records in question appear to be in bound volumes organized geographically into several distinct regions. For each region, there appear to be volumes running chronologically over a series of time which appears to vary slightly from one region to another.

Then within that volume for a certain time frame, it appears the records are further broken down geographically by specific village, town, etc. It does not appear that the villages are listed in alphabetical order within the volume and it’s possible that there is some rough geographical ordering. There does not appear to be page numbers within a specific volume (or at least not within every volumes and the ones I used had no page numbers). Ancestry.com has assigned image numbers to each image within a specific volume.

While I’m still thinking about how to create my citation for these records, I think I’ll have to use the image number from Ancestry.com.

The volume “name” (usually the larger geographic location and a year) will need to be a part of my citation as well. The original holder of the records and the creator of the records (the “Ostfriesischen Landschaftlichen Brandkasse”) needs to be included in my citation.

Of course, it needs to be indicated that Ancestry.com digitally published the records as “East Frisia, Germany, Fire Insurance Registration, 1768-1937.”

While I still need to decide how to format the citation (and reasonable genealogists can easily disagree on the minor details), what is crucial is that my citation contain:

  • the creator of the records
  • the current holder of the original records
  • the volume used (this requires me to have a working knowledge of how the records are organized so that I get the volume title right–I might even want to note that in this case the “titles” aren’t actually on the volumes and were probably assigned by Ancestry.com based on the years covered in each volume)
  • how to get to the specific page (I may have to use the image number assigned by Ancestry.com).
  • the date I accessed the record

And that’s before I even really analyze what is in the record.


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