Saturday, May 13, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Then and Now -- Source Citations

 Calling all Genea-Musings Fans:

It's Saturday Night again -
time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along - cue the Mission Impossible music!):

1)  Then and Now - How have you documented your genealogy and family history research with source citations over the years?  What did you start with (Then) and what do you presently use (Now).  Please share your experiences.

2)  Write your own blog post, or leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

Here's mine:

I started doing genealogy and family history research in 1988 - 35 years ago.  How time flies by!

As an aerospace engineer in the 1980s, I learned to document my work using rudimentary source citations - usually to a book or periodical or to an event, usually as an in-text citation in parentheses.  

My first genealogy software program was Personal Ancestral File (PAF) which did not have a source citation feature, so I used a shorthand source citation in the Place field for the event.  For instance, if I had a vital record certificate, I would add a source abbreviation in the event place as "Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts (cert.)" or for a vital records book as "Leominster, Worcester, Massachusetts (VR)."  Having a lot of Massachusetts ancestors, my growing tree had thousands of these shorthand citations.  I still find the shorthand citations in some online family trees and know where they came from (heh!). 

The early versions of GEDCOM, Family Tree Maker and other software programs had a source citation feature with two fields - one for the SOURce (author, title, publisher) and for the PAGE number (page number, place, date, subjcct).  GEDCOM still has only those two fields.  The GEDCOM fields reflect a "library" repository location.  I added source citations into the two fields in Family Tree Maker as best I could.

As the Internet matured, and source types expanded to include home records, digitized records, photographs,  artifacts, searchable databases, family trees, and more, found online or in a library or an archive or other repository, the source citations became more complex.  Elizabeth Shown Mills published the first edition of Evidence Explained in 2007, which provided standardized source citations for many more record and repository types.  Genealogists now had many more models to use as examples, and many researchers started using those models, but the source citations became very complex since the records being sourced were created on paper, indexed into lists in books or online, and digitized by a provider (e.g., Ancestry, FamilySearch, etc.).  We were advised to find the Original Records if possible, and to layer the source citations to include where we fund it, where the original record was located, etc.

I switched my preferred software to RootsMagic in about 2008, but I still used Family Tree Maker and Legacy Family Tree, using GEDCOM To transfer my data files as needed.  

Desktop and laptop genealogy software programs like RootsMagic, Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree, and other programs, implemented the Evidence Explained models as Custom source models by 2011.  However, GEDCOM did not change, so any source citation was made to fit into the SOURce-PAGE number fields in GEDCOM.  That restriction ended up mangling any custom source when transferred using GEDCOM.

In 2011, I figured out that I needed to use the Evidence Explained source citation models to craft my source citations, but I had to do it using a Free-form citation that would transfer well using GEDCOM.  I wrote many Genea-Musings blog posts about this problem - see The Seaver Source Citation Saga Compendium (published 16 February 2011).  

Since 2011, I have followed this path - I craft a source citation for a new record type using an Evidence Explained model, then craft a free-form source citation for the new record type and use it as often as needed - changing only the "PAGE number" information for a given "Master SOURce."  

It was a challenge to find all of my source citations in my RootsMagic database, but I "cleaned up" most  of my primitive citations and have used my free-form source citation system since 2011.  I now have over 71,000 person profiles and over 145,000 source citations in my database, but I still have thousands of events without a source citation.  I work on them every week using Record Hints or Matches from my online family trees.  I try to make this a FUN task.


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Lisa S. Gorrell said...

Here's mine.

ByAPearl said...

Here is my contribution

Linda Stufflebean said...

Here's mine: