A Source Within A Source

1929 High School Graduating Class, Bowen, Illinois. Original photograph in possession of Nellie (Neill) Shanks, currently in possession of her daughter. Scan made by Michael John Neill August 2013.

Note: this post is originally from 2015, but we’ve moved it here and combined two posts into one.

There are times when one has no reason to doubt the accuracy of some information one has received. But the problem is accurately tracking the actual source of the information.

Such is the case with this picture. There is the picture and there is the identification of the individuals in the picture.

In August of 2013, I wrote a blog post about a graduation picture I had scanned from the 1929 graduating class of Bowen High School. The scan was from a copy of the photograph in the possession of a first cousin of my father. She had obtained the copy from her mother’s personal papers–her mother was in the 1929 graduating class.

The problem was that there were only two individuals identified on the picture, my great-aunt Nellie (Neill) Shanks and her friend Edith (Stillwell) McGinley. No other names were listed and I certainly didn’t know who any of the other individuals were. My great-aunt attended and graduated from Bowen High School because it was the closest “last year” high school. There were no other close family members of mine who graduated from Bowen High School.

Last week the wife of a first cousin one removed of my father on the other side of the family wrote about the photograph having seen it on my website. She also had a copy of the picture. Her copy had the names identified on the back of it and she graciously sent me a list of the names. Fortunately the two people identified on my picture were identified as the same on hers.


I find myself thinking about how to craft a citation for this photograph and the individuals it pictures. The “information” actually came from two separate sources. The image came from a digital scan of my great-aunt’s copy of the photograph held privately by my father’s first cousin. That photograph only identifies two of the individuals.

The identification of the remaining individuals came from another copy of the photograph held by the wife of my father’s first cousin once removed.

My citation needs to take this into account–the image needs to be sourced separately from the identification.

Once I’ve crafted it to my satisfaction, we’ll have a follow-up post.

Do you have “sources” that are really multiple sources?

I decided on a citation, but I’m not certain I’m overly happy with it.

I do think it is crucial to recognize that the image was made from one copy of the photograph and that the identification of those pictured was made from another.

Source citation:

1. Bowen, Illinois, High School 1929 Graduating Class composite photograph, ca. 1929, privately held by L. Gorrell, [address for private use,] Quincy, Illinois, 2014. Gorrell is the daughter of Nellie (Neill) Shanks, a member of the 1929 graduating class, and the picture was in Shanks’ collection of personal effects inherited by Gorrell upon Shanks’ death. Identification of those pictured in the composite photograph was via another copy of the same composite photograph described in a letter written to Michael John Neill’s father [R. Wartick, Bowen, Illinois, to K. Neill, letter, February 2015, discussing 1929 Bowen graduating class composite photograph; personal genealogy collection of Michael John Neill, privately held by Michael John Neill [address for private use] Rio, Illinois].

Suggestions are welcomed!


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