What Is Genealogy
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Cite Your Sources
Cite Your Sources
In the academic world, authors of published papers are always very careful to cite their sources. Some people think that this is only to give credit where credit is due, and while it is true that is a reason, that is far from the only reason. The main reason is to aid people (both the author himself, perhaps years later, and other researchers) to locate the source material
Likewise, as a genealogical researcher, even if you never intend to publish the results of your research, you too should always cite your sources. This gives you, and anybody else who may follow-up on your research, the best possible chance of locating that source again at a later time. You never know when you might need to go back to a source, or want to recheck conflicting information that may crop up.
Another reason to keep research logs and to cite your sources is that life may give you only a few windows of opportunity to trace your family tree. You might have to put away your genealogy hobby for months, or even years, at a time, and when you come back to this puzzle, it is nice not to have to start from scratch all over again. Completed research logs with your sources fully cited on your paper forms or in your computer files, will allow you to pick up where you left off.
Whether you use paper forms (ancestor charts and family group sheets) or a computer and a genealogy program, citing your sources is essential. Your citations should record where you found each piece of information about each person. Genealogy software will nearly always provide the option to attach one or more images to each source citation, as well as a field to type in (transcribe) all or part of the original source. You should type the person's name exactly as it was spelled in that source, and as well as including details such details as that source's condition when you looked at it or whether the author is prone to err.
Another idea is to buy special books that are designed to help your keep better source records. You will find that these books can make excellent travel tools when you are on the road doing genealogy research. Although, they may not sound like very exciting travel companions, you will appreciate them when you are standing in the family cemetery plot in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, worrying about bears, ticks, and chiggers and trying to remember what pieces of information to record. In other words, you can use these books as a checklist to determine what source details to record on your research log and copies.
Here is a list of the types of source information that you should aim to record:-
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