Citation Details Should be the First Guest at the Genealogy Party

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.

That’s often how I used Evidence Explainedto help make me aware of what needs to be captured, especially when I’m using a record with which I’m not familiar.

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.

Evidence Explained: Third Edition Revised can be purchased on at the sale price until 11:59 EDT on 18 May


One thought on “Citation Details Should be the First Guest at the Genealogy Party

  1. Lisa Gorrell says:

    I write about my family in my blogs and do try to include source citations. Fortunately, I copy and paste from my database program and only have to do minor tweaking.

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