Monday, June 30, 2014

How Do I Cite Personal Knowledge and Oral, Written or Audio Interviews?

DearMYRTLE had an extensive discussion in her Facebook group late last week on "What exactly is personal knowledge?"  If you're on Facebook, I encourage you to go to DearMYRTLE's group page and find the thread that starts on 26 June 2014.

Some of the comments made discussed:

*  Personal recollections can add "meat to the bones" to our ancestors family history stories

*  Documents are usually more accurate than personal knowledge, but some official documents have errors.

*  Personal knowledge should be first-hand - a person's own memories.

*  Interviews of family members should be documented separately in written, audio or video form.

*  Personal knowledge and interview information should be used as clues or guides to find documents.

We discussed this Facebook discussion on today's Monday's With Myrt Hangout On Air - watch it at  This is discussed at about 1:28:40 of the Hangout On Air.

On the Hangout On Air, there was some discussion about how to cite a personal knowledge or interview source.  I thought that I had done that some time back, for my own family history, and my parents also.  They told me things over the years that I recall, and wrote down in my genealogy software database.

Evidence Explained provides models for both "Personal Knowledge" and "Interviews," which are included as source templates in RootsMagic (and Legacy Family Tree and Family tree Maker, I'm not sure about other programs).

In Evidence Explained, the description for "Personal Knowledge" is in Section 2.15.  Model source citations for Interviews are in Section 3.32, and for Personal Knowledge are in Section 3.43.

For the Interviews source citation model, I used the "Interviews (oral)" source template in RootsMagic, and filled in the fields:

The resulting source citation set for the audio recording I have, and the transcribed typescript is:

Footnote: "Oral interview with Geraldine "Seaver" Remley," 1988–1989 by Randall J. Seaver, owned by Randall J. Seaver, San Diego, California, magnetic tape audio recording, with written transcription; Geraldine's (paternal aunt of Randy Seaver) life story, including family, residence, education, and work life experiences.

Short Footnote: Interview, Geraldine 'Seaver" Remley, 1988–1989.

Bibliography: Remley, Geraldine 'Seaver". Interview by Randall J. Seaver, 1988–1989. Owned by Randall J. Seaver, San Diego, California.

A minor problem - I entered Geraldine's maiden name in parentheses, but the program rendered them as quote marks for some reason.

I used the "Personal Knowledge" source template in RootsMagic for my own memories:

The resulting source citation set for this particular memory is:

Footnote: Personal knowledge of the author, Randall J. Seaver, [address for private use]. personal memory of education history.

Short Footnote: Personal knowledge of the author, Randall J. Seaver.

Bibliography: Seaver, Randall J. Personal knowledge. [address for private use].

I struggled with personal memories ind information about family, residence, education, work, etc. recounted by my parents over a long period of time.  I had entered Facts in my database for them, and finally made source citations using the "Interviews (oral)" source template in RootsMagic, viz:

The resulting source citation set is:

Footnote: "Oral interview with Frederick W. Seaver," 1980–1983 by Randall J. Seaver, owned by Randall J. Seaver, San Diego, California, no notes taken; oral information on residence history.

Short Footnote: Interview, Frederick W. Seaver, 1980–1983.

Bibliography: Seaver, Frederick W. Interview by Randall J. Seaver, 1980–1983. Owned by Randall J. Seaver, San Diego, California.

How have my readers cited sources of this nature?  How does your software program cite these sources?  How should I improve my source citations for memories and interviews?

UPDATED:  Linked to Myrt's Facebook post and added the time stamp information.

The URL for this post is:

copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Does this work as documentation of my birth, Randy? !! ;-)

Kathy said...

This is a very good thought provoker! I have a lot of oral history due to to grandmothers who lived to be over 100. (one is still alive) So many stories came from the two of them and I have been listing them on Ancestry as stories in their format and then they come across as 'media' in my FTM program. There is probably a better way, perhaps something a little more professional?

Kathy said...

oops - 'two' grandmothers