At some point while writing this blog I had the big idea to include Evidence Explained style citations in every post. At some point I stopped. It was not because properly crafted citations are not important, but because sometimes in writing them it takes time away from writing.
That may sound like an excuse. It is.
Citation is more than about getting all the right pieces of how something was obtained in just the correct format with the commas and colons in the appropriate places, the correct italicization of titles, etc. It’s knowing what pieces of information are crucial to crafting a citation and capturing those pieces of information as information is obtained. That’s the best time to do it. That’s the most efficient time to do it. Having all that information makes the analysis and interpretation easier.
When all the source information is captured as the source is obtained, the citation can be crafted later. What’s important is not memorizing all the various forms of citation for various documents. What is important is knowing what information needs to be captured when a record is obtained.
That’s what I tried to do in this 1959 newspaper clipping that mentions a birthday party for my aunt. There’s not a technically correct citation there. But information was captured and included in the image so that later one can be created. And even if I never create a “correct” citation for this item–all the information is there.
Including citation information should be done first, before you begin analyzing a document. It should not be an afterthought.
Speaking of afterthoughts, it’s interesting that my aunt’s husband is listed last among all the attendees at her birthday party. There’s probably a story there, but it will take more than luck to find it now, let alone create a citation for it.