The whole point of including a source in genealogy research is so that other people can check out your sources for themselves. What is the point of directing someone to a library in Utah when the source material is readily available online? I’ve sometimes been given similar obscure sources, and then subsequently discovered that there was no need to cross the Atlantic to check out an obscure book or database but that the information was readily available online on Ancestry or some other website.
If you want a good example of a website which automatically provides source citations in the correct format using the URL and date then try copy and pasting material from the British History Online website:
Note that the full citation including the precise URL and date are automatically generated. This is the format which companies like Ancestry and Find My Past should be encouraged to follow.]]>
I am an experienced genealogist, and I teach genealogy at the Family History Training Center in Provo, Utah. How and why to use sources is one of my favorite soapbox issues. One of the things I am strong about is creating sources that are generic enough to be linked to several events for multiple people in the database. Each person in a genealogy database has the possibility of up to five source links just for the basic life events, ie birth, christening, marriage, death, burial. Multiply that by the number of people in the database and it is easy to see the need for being able to use a given source repeatedly wherever it is possible.
Which brings me to the concern about the automatic source creation you have explained. I have some questions:
Once the source is created for one event in one individual’s life (as in your example), can it be linked to another event for that person or for another person?
If you find further data about the same person in the same source, but it is on a different page, do you need to go through the whole process and add another set of images, etc., to your source list?
What happens when you create a personal data sheet for that person which includes the sources? Will your “sheet” be one page of genealogy data and several pages of source information, some of which is duplicated?
What about a family group sheet? How will it look?
While I like the idea of having digital images along with the text of a source, I can see a possibility of the sources becoming redundant and overwhelming, and therefore useless to the ordinary family historian. It looks good with just the one individual in your example file. How does it look in a file of a few thousand individuals. The redundancy is one of the problems that has been revealed in other programs which have automatically created sources and added them to a database, such as PAFInsight. People don’t bother to read source information unless it is simple and clear, and the pertinent data is easy to find. Our progenitors will need to know what document we looked at to find the genealogical assertion we made, and where they can find the same document to confirm that data. Everything else is bells and whistles.
If there were a way to use your basic reference, “The History of Emery County,” with the pertinent publication information, etc., as the source, then personalize it for each citation with the page number and perhaps the page image and quoted text, you could really be on to something! You probably have several ancestors mentioned in that book. Why create a whole new source for each mention?
Just my opinion, of course.
I live in Phoenix and have used your Genealogical Proof Standard chart; I think it is really great. I teach a family history class at ASU and am the current president of the Arizona Council for Professional Genealogists. I hope that you will consider joining our group. Annual dues are $5 a year. We have a chat group on Yahoo where we can discuss genealogy issues. Let me know if you are interested in joining us. We would like to hear about your work
You might be thinking about Zotero which is a Firefox plug-in for citation or the following link from Taneya’s Genealogy blog: http://www.taneya-kalonji.com/genblog/?p=705
There are a number of tools to do citation including EndNote and RefWorks but to my knowledge none support templates from Evidence Explained.
Many websites like WorldCat.org support source citation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8W7kWMrVNk
In fact, I see citing sources as an important feature of the soon-to-be-released GenSeek catalog.