Back in April 2009, I created a video that showed my dream for how citing online sources should be done (see blog post). It would be a partnership between online record repositories and desktop genealogy software. I created a prototype close enough to the real thing to prove that it could be done and to help others visualize how it would work. I even created a survey to get feedback from others.
Over 300 people responded to the survey and at the end of the trial period I sent a copy of the results to all participants that provided an e-mail. I planned on blogging about the results but got discouraged at the time.
Two events have happened this week to get me thinking about this again. The first was a comment on my blog by Bruce. He has a website for his personal family history and wanted to know how to go about setting up the site to do citations like the video demonstrated. It saddened me to tell him that it is not possible to do this yet without cooperation from the desktop genealogy software vendors. The second was a direct message via Twitter from fellow genealogy software innovator, Dean. He contacted me to say that my blog was mentioned in a discussion today at RootsTech on how to handle sources.
Maybe it is time for me to publish the survey results from 2 years ago.
What type of people responded to the survey? People like you and me. The majority are non-professional researches (plain Jane/Joe family historians) many of whom belong to local genealogy societies. Some have visited courthouses, the National Archives, or the Family History Library, but almost all had done research on the internet in the last week. They used sites like Ancestry, Footnote, and FamilySearch and desktop software like RootsMagic, Legacy, Family Tree Maker, and PAF. Over 99% thought citing sources was important but 75% thought it was difficult to do it. Over 90% thought that there should be one standard citation guide and 57% were using “Evidence Explained.” When asked if they were interested in the solution provided in the video, 93% said they were interested.
There are more details and nuggets in the survey results.
Maybe we can explore them more in future posts.