Tuesday, July 12, 2011

FUN with 1930 United States Census Source Citations

I heard that the 1930 United States Census was now complete on FamilySearch.org, and I wondered what the source citations looked like for this collection on FamilySearch, on Ancestry.com and on Footnote.com.  I also wondered how "standard" they were, relative to, say, the Evidence! Explained source citation models.  Here's what I found:

1)  www.FamilySearch.org -- this site has only the indexed results and not census images on the website, but it's free.  The record page does not have a source citation, but the Research Wiki page for the collection has a sample source citation:

"United States Census, 1930." index and images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org): accessed 8 April 2011. entry for Joyce Baker, age 24; citing Census Records, FHL microfilm 2,340,225; United States Federal Archives and Records Center, Washington, D.C.

This citation does not provide much information for a reader who saw it in a book or report. It provides an FHL film number, but a user would have to order the film, wait for it to arrive, and then search through all of the images on the film to find the record. If s/he wants to find the record, s/he would have to do a search on www.FamilySearch.org again, which does provide a place name, an ED, a page number, and the NARA Microfilm Publication Number and Roll number.  Also, the link is to the "old" FamilySearch site, that does not have this database (it should be "https").  The Source of the Source should be the NARA microfilm publication, not the Archives Center itself, and should include the NARA microfilm number and roll number.

2)  www.Ancestry.com -- this commercial site has an every name index for all of the images available for the 1930 census.  The record page for a person provides a source citation (I chose my father, Frederick W. Seaver):

Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts; Roll: 964; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 226; Image: 1055.0.

Source Information:
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002.
Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.

These three paragraphs have most of the necessary elements (which means they are in a database), but they should be put into the correct order according to some standard format; for instance, the Evidence! Explained models.
3)  www.Footnote.com -- this commercial site has an every-name index and all available census images of the 1930 census.  After searching for my father, the image page has the following census information:

Content Source:  The National Archives
Publication Number: T626
Publication Title: Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930
Content Source: NARA
National Archives Catalog ID: 598030
National Archives Catalog Title: Population Schedules for the 1930 Census, compiled 1930 - 1930
Record Group: 29
Census Year: 1930
Short Description: NARA T626. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930.
State: Massachusetts
Browse Description: LEOMINSTER CITY, WARD 5
Enumeration District: 14-226
Sheet Number: 3a

This provides most of the information needed to construct a standard source citation.

4)  My own source citation, created from the RootsMagic 4 source template creator which uses the Evidence! Explained standardized model for "Census, U.S. Federal (online images)," but relies on my interpretation of what information that goes in the template fields:

1930 United States Federal Census, Worcester County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Leominster Ward 5, enumeration district (ED) 226, 3-A, dwelling 44, family 69, Frederick W. Seaver; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 July 2011); National Archives microfilm publication T626, Roll 964.

That is really good, but it doesn't exactly match the Evidence! Explained model for digital images on a commercial site.  The Evidence! Explained model for the above source citation would be:

1930 U. S. Federal Census, Worcester County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Leominster Ward 5,  enumeration district 226, p. 3-A, dwelling 44, family 69; Frederick W. Seaver, online database, Ancestry.com

5)  Some conclusions:

*  The above comparison is why I do not download Ancestry census images into my online Ancestry Member Tree or into my Family Tree Maker 2011 database.  The Ancestry.com source citations suck, and I would have to edit them to make them standard.  Will Ancestry.com change their source citations to conform to the accepted Evidence! Explained standard?  I doubt it!  They have over 30,000 databases to create standard source citations for! They get a grade of D.
*  The FamilySearch source citation really sucks.  There is no attempt at a citation to a locality, an ED, a page number, or the NARA publication and roll numbers, only to an FHL microfilm.  This gets a grade of F+.
*  The Footnote source citations also suck.  Most of the elements for a source citation are available, but they cite only the page in a non-standard format.  They should invest the time to craft standard quality source citations now, rather than later, or never.  They get a grade of D.
*  The three software programs I use, RootsMagic 4, Legacy Family Tree 7 and Family Tree Maker 2011, create near-standard source citations with their source templates based on Evidence! Explained and several other models.  Good for them - they get a grade of A-.
That was fun!  Which one should I review next?  It's probably not worth the effort - hopefully, the companies will get the message and improve their source citation creation models.  Who will do it first?

Updated 10 p.m.  sorry about the formatting problem.  I didn't look at the posted format...dumb! 

1 comment:

Linda Robbins said...

Thank you, Randy, for going to the trouble to grade Source Citations for Family Search, Ancestry, and Footnote who either almost failed or failed. I am glad that I use Legacy Family Tree (A-) and that you use RootsMagic (A-),to become more aligned with the Elizabeth Shown Mills' standard. This gave me a sense of the best methods and programs to use to cite my sources.