Dick Eastman Spreads the News about Online Source Citation Video

Wednesday, 6 May 2009 | by Mark Tucker

I would like to give Dick Eastman a big “Thank you” for blogging about the online citation video. It appeared in today’s post titled “Video Teaches Correct Citations of Online Sources.” I very much appreciate his willingness to spread the word on this important issue.

There is one point of clarification that I would like to make: although the technology exists today to do this type of “one click” citation it has not been implemented. What I showed was a prototype proving that it was possible. What needs to happen next is for online organizations (like Ancestry, FamilySearch, World Vital Records, Footnote, GenSeek, etc.) and genealogy software companies (like the makers of RootsMagic, Legacy, and Family Tree Maker) to agree on a file format and implement it. The online organizations would need to start providing a file with a download link for each source on their site and the genealogy database applications would need to support importing of the files. One could view the video as a tutorial of how things could be. That is precisely why it is so important to get the word out.

This is a grassroots effort from the genealogy community to let genealogy software and service providers know what we want. Citing sources is important to us. There are inconsistencies and other problems that need to be solved. Let’s find a way to get together and solve them. I am just one voice trying to spotlight an issue and provide a way for others to get their voices heard. We have had 200 respondents to the individual survey with
83% classifying themselves as non-professional genealogists.

Here are a few more statistics:

88% of respondents say that citing sources is very important with the remaining 12% saying it is important. 77% say they find citing sources difficult or very difficult. When asked if there should be one standard citation style for genealogy, 90% responded in the affirmative. Respondents used Evidence Explained the most (62%) as a guide for genealogy research. The two most used online genealogy sites are and FamilySearch. It would be great if one of those would join in support of this effort. When asked “Does the ability to click a link on a website and have the source citation imported into your genealogy software interest you?84% said they were very interested with an additional 10% saying they were interested. Instead of 1100 views of the YouTube video, I would like to see 10,000 with at least 1000 filling out the survey. Maybe at that point this effort will have enough momentum to really get moving.  Is that too much to ask from the genealogy community?

One surprising and disappointing statistic is the low numbers taking the company and organization survey; only 4.  All 4 felt that citing sources were very important and all would be willing to participate in the cause.

Once again I want to thank Dick Eastman for his contributions to the genealogy community on this and many other issues.

Keep spreading the word and let your voice be heard.


  1. Electronic citations are the most difficult. There is private email (with approval to publish), and sites such as Ancestry census and WWII draft records which have documentation, Ancestry and RootsWeb family trees without documentation, RootsWeb family messages in email format, etc. Add to that the bulletin boards that existed in the early days of computer genealogy and the abbreviations that were necessary in the DOS days.. Then there are the electronic sources that no longer exist.
    Personal letters, telephone conversations etc. that are “from memory” are also difficult.
    I use newspaper style books for books, journals and other print material.

    Comment by Howard Hickman — 7 May 2009 @ 11:09 am

  2. For those of us still using dial-up internet connections, it would be nice to be able to read about the information in the video. I do not attempt to view 7 1/2 minute videos because they take too long to load and my connection frequently drops in the middle of it.

    Comment by A A Bowen — 10 May 2009 @ 10:54 am

  3. Thanks for the link to this useful and informative information. Citing sources in genealogy research is SO important, and knowing just how to properly cite online resources is tricky. It’s always good to get some guidance on the subject.

    Comment by Irish Family History — 13 May 2009 @ 9:02 pm

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