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Documenting Source Citations and Notes:
A Research Paper "bibliography" contains references to the sources that were used to prove the claims made within the body of the paper. Good family history software should provide an easy method for documenting the events in a person's life, that is, it creates the "bibliography" documenting your research efforts. Sources can be used an unlimited number of times within a database. Therefore, when you find a book containing hundreds of names of family members, rather than recording the source citation repeatedly with each person, it is much more efficient to enter the description once. Then, point to the source in a master list and record only the unique information for each person in the citation detail of the source.
Notes can be used to record biographical information, such as where a person lived during their lifetime, and can include interesting or special circumstances of an individual's life, stories, journal entries, research notes and "to do" lists.
In printouts from computer software programs, notes are usually printed right after the individual's data while the source information usually is printed at the end of a chapter, or for example when creating a family registry report the sources would print at the end of the document.
The Source Screen:
A Source Citation should be recorded in detail sufficient enough that another person can locate the same record containing that information.
- When using the "Edit" function for data entry, pressing the Source feature allows the user to record information about where to find family history information.
- In Personal Ancestral File (PAF) computer software, there are ten types of source fields available for documentation. They are: Life, Birth, Christening, Death, Burial, Marriage & Divorce, as well as the LDS ordinances of Baptism, Endowment, Sealing-to-Parents, and Sealing-to-Spouse. Other software also has fields for Research, Medical and "To Do" lists.
- Each Source field allows entering the following "bibliography" data: Source Title, Author, Publication Information, Source/Call Number, Repository Name & Address, Film/Volume/Page Number, Date of Entry, Actual Text and Comments.
Great care should be used in designing the source title.
The source title is a key field which will determine how the source is listed in the alphabetized source list and how the sources are grouped together. If it is well designed, it will allow for repeated use.
Source Title (required field).
Published Book examples:
For published sources, such as books, magazine articles, newspapers, compact discs, and so forth, use the exact title from the title page. Click the italics option for books.
- For an unpublished record such as birth certificates, parish registers, census records, journals, private collections of family records, and so forth, write a descriptive title of the record, such as "Wooley, Samuel - Journal" or "St. Paul's Lutheran Church (1653-1805) Christening Records". Do not click the italics option.
- Make the title for unpublished sources unique and clear where it will indentify the material. For example use "Arizona Certificate" or "Mason, Terry - Journal".
- The title of an article in a periodical or newspaper should be enclosed in quotation marks. (The name of the periodical or newspaper should be entered in the Publication Information field in parenthesis.) Note: I prefer to precede this source title with the geographic locality.
Massachusetts, Freetown Vital Records of
Massengill, Henry - History of
Mexican War Soldiers
Nall Families of America (1978)
Unpublished record examples:
Name of Periodical or Newspaper examples (with Publication Information):
California, Pasadena "Henry Jones, Settler" (Pasadena Star News)
California, Upland County "History of Upland County" (The Daily Report)
California, Santa Rosa "Early Immigrants to the Community" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat Newspaper)
Utah, Salt Lake City Obituaries "John Doe" (Salt Lake Tribune)
Rule 1: Source titles of a geographic area such as the name of a county or state should be written so that the source can be used for every person in your databank to whom it applies.
Kentucky Death Index (1911-1996)
Kentucky, Hardin County 1850 U.S. Census
Kentucky, Hardin County 1900 U.S. Census
Kentucky, Daviess County 1900 U.S. Census
Rule 2: Start source titles with the surname to which it applies to allow grouping all sources with that surname.
Holland Family Record compiled by James Holland (1997)
Holland Family Records compiled by Shirley Dodson (1999)
Jones, Mary (1920) Interview
Jones, Dianne Holland (1999) e-mail correspondence
Black, Samuel Edward - Journal
Type the name of the author, editor, compiler or institution that created the source.
- For a published record, type every author, compiler, or editor.
- If a source has more than three authors, you can list the first three by name and use the abbreviation et al., which means "and others" instead of typing the other names. You can type information about a specific volume in a series in the citation.
- For an unpublished record, you may want to type the name of the institution that created the record such as "The National Archives of the United States", "California Department of Vital Statistics" or "Dromantee National School."
- For interviews, type the name of the person who conducted the interview.
- For a journal, type the name of who wrote the journal.
- For a published source, include the place of publishing, the publisher's name, and the copyright date.
- For an article in a periodical, include the name of the periodical, volume numbers, issue numbers and dates and pages that cover the article.
- For something like obituaries or marriage announcements from the same newspaper, cite the publisher. In the citation, type the date of the announcement, and the section and page number.
- For an unpublished source, you may want to list the form of the record you used such as "e-mail", "microfilm", "microfiche", "certificate in possession of Jeff White" or "manuscript." If you mention a person's name, include that person's address in the Repository Information.
- If you found the source in a library or archive, include the call number or film number. If you did not, you can leave this field blank.
- If a source spans several volumes or microfilms, include the range of volume or film numbers such as 1,456,900-1,456,925. Put the specific volume or microfilm in the Individual Reference information under Film/Volume/Page number. That way, you can use the Source List instead of retyping the same source and then just change the film or volume number.
- This is information you want to appear every time you display this Source Title.
- It might be the introduction to a church parish record or a book.
Example: A History of Frederick County, now Hampshire, Berkeley, Shenandoah, Jefferson counties.
- If you want the comment to be used every time you cite this source, type anything you want to say in this field. If it is particular to only one citation, then type it in the "Comments" field under Citation Detail.
- A comment may include a description of the condition of the records or films, the ease of use, the condition of someone at the time you interviewed them, or what you think is the reliability of the information.
Hint: You can have repeated use of the Repository Information.
- Type the Name, Address, and Telephone Number of a library or archives where anyone could find that source.
- If the source you used was in the collection of a particular family history center, include the name and address of the center. If you used a microfilm that the Family History Center ordered from the Family History Library, you may want to use the following address:
Family History Library|
35 North West Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT USA 84150
- If you own the record, you may want to use your name and address. If you do not want to be contacted by others, you may want to include the name and address of a publisher, library, or archive where a person could find the record.
Citation Detail (separate detail for this one individual only):
Date of Entry.
- Type all information needed to find the particular bit of information for that specific person you used within the source.
- For a source that spans several microfilms, type the specific film number here.
- For a book, include page numbers. If the book is part of a series, also include the volume number.
- For a periodical, include the volume, issue number, and page number(s).
- For an unpublished record such as a folder, folio number, or a certificate number, use the format Birth - File # 334232
If applicable, type the date the record was made, NOT the date you added the source to your records.
- Copy the text exactly as it appears in the original record. This can help you easily identify conflicts or evaluate your information without having to go back to the source. Instead of including just a scanned image, by typing the text of a document into your record you can use the Find and Search features in the software to search for information.
- It may be useful to precede information with a tag such as EDUCATION, RESIDENCE, IMMIGRATION, PARENTS, MILITARY or OBITUARY.
- For a certificate, extract all possible data from the document. Example: County of Blount - Certificate issued by Superintendent of Public Health on 12th day of May, 1947. LOCATION: St. Jude's Hospital; 12:53 P.M. Resident: Mentor, Tennessee. Attendant: J.D. Homer, M.D. PARENTS: Father - Samuel Harris Jones, age 29, born: Mentor, Tennessee; Occupation: Clerk, Jones Merchant Store; Mother - Julie Allen Matthews, age 27, born: Sevierville, Tennessee; RESIDENCE: Mentor, Tennessee. Children born to this mother, including this child: 1.
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- Write any comments or explanations you have about that particular entry, page, or record. Comments about a source such as, "The tombstone was worn and the date could have been 1835 instead of 1885" or "This information is in conflict with _________" will help you and other researchers focus efforts on needed study.
- If you calculated a year of birth or marriage from information you found in the source, this is a good place to explain the calculation. You might, for example, include a comment such as: "The 1900 census states that Jennifer Mary, the oldest child, was 10 years old. Therefore, she was born around 1890. Assuming she was their first child, her parents were probably married about 1889."
- It may be useful to precede this information with a tag such as CONFLICT, QUESTION, or RESEARCHER.
Personal Ancestral File has a separate place to store source information. However, when creating web pages with PAF, information placed in the Source Citation Detail "Actual Text" field is run together. Therefore, I tend to use the "Notes" field that allows me to have more control over the output and printouts. If you want to use the notes method to enter data for an individual, consider the following format suggested by the Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group:
!TAG: Author,TITLE; Year; Source origin; References in source; Location of source; NOTES:
It is possible to separate the notes you want to share with others from those notes you want to keep private. The method for doing this is to place an exclamation mark (!) as the first character of a paragraph. This method of marking a note makes it appear on printed reports, in GEDCOM files (files you create and use to share genealogy information with others), TempleReady submissions and Ancestral File contributions. You may also use a tilde "~" preceding a sentence or paragraph mark that information as confidential.
TAGS are key words that identify the type of information contained in a note. To make tags easy to identify, type them in uppercase letters at the beginning of the paragraph followed by a colon(:). Use the Event, Linkage, Subject or Research tags to label an entry for future computer searches. Place a tag at the beginning of a line and use all capital letters followed by a colon. When using more than one tag, separate each with a hyphen. Leave a blank line between each source entry. Following are the most often used TAGS:
||Optional LDS Events
C. Author, TITLE;
Name or description of source. For a book, state author's full name followed by a comma, then the title IN CAPITAL LETTERS. For a periodical place "quotes around title" of an article.
Show entire span of years covered by source. If only one event occurs, use only specific year. Allows others to see what time period this source covers.
E. Source origin;
Include Series, Volume, Part, Publisher info (Publication Date & City), Item number (if microfilm or microfiche).
F. References within source;
Page or line number within source. Unique to each field of information.
G. Location of source;
Actual physical location or repository of source. If in a library, enter call number (book, fiche, or film). Describe where a researcher could see the source or obtain a copy of it. (Do not list specific addresses unless granted permission.)
Extraction of essential details. You may use TAGS such as COMMENT, QUESTION, ACTION, CONFLICT with explanation.
A B C D
!BIOGRAPHY: Mary Coffin Johnson, THE HIGLEYS AND THEIR ANCESTRY; 1630-1892;
E F G
New York, The Grafton Pres, 1892; pp 9-15; Sutro Library, San Francisco, CA.
A B C
!DEATH-PARENTS-SPOUSE-CHILDREN: Obituary of Hans Bosen, OGDEN STANDARD EXAMINER;
D E F G
1948; microfilm dtd Sep-Nov, 1943; October, p 108, Col 1; City Library, Ogden, UT;
ACTION: Get a photocopy of this document.
A B C D
!MILITARY-SPOUSE: Pension application of Glen Jones; 1863-1901; Civil War,
IL 5th Regiment, filed by widow, Amanda Jones, 10 Sep 1901, Doc #1198762-2A; ;
Original in poss of Aaron Jones, Santa Clara, CA.
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