While I’m not about to dispense your medication, but I do want you to name your sources! For some reason, capturing our sources can be as painful as a dose of medicine. And like medicine, it might not be pleasant, but it is good for us and our research.
When we do our research and capture all the relevant information about our sources, we not only benefit our own work but also help others. These paper “bread crumbs” become even more important twenty, thirty, or fifty years from now when you might not even be around to ask where you got your data.
Have you ever found some great information about your family that someone else wrote but without any source data? How do we know it is true? Or what if we’d really like to get a copy of a marriage record for an ancestor but the person didn’t indicate where they found this data? For example, on a message board, I found the exact death date for my fourth G Grandfather…unfortunately the person’s email is no longer active so I haven’t been able to contact them directly. Despite best efforts, I haven’t found this data anywhere in online or onsite records. Where did they find this data?!! Ah if only I knew their source.
While we merrily go on our way researching and writing about our family, it can be challenging to have the discipline to capture those sources. Here are some tips.
There are many books and web articles that talk about the best way to capture source data in a standard format that make sense and follows best practices. The common-sense question to ask yourself is “Does my source citation make it easy for someone else to find this information?”
There are many more great books and web sites to explore on methods/best practices for citing your source. When you are writing your family history, it is important to include that information so others can benefit and you have the information if you ever want to go back to the original source. Take the time to cite your sources!
“Giving credit where credit is due is a very rewarding habit to form. Its rewards are inestimable.”
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.