Thursday, August 6, 2009

Don’t Put Sources In New FamilySearch?

This article is one in a series of session reports from the recent BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. I tweeted the session live, but I hate to send you to Twitter to read them because they appear there in reverse chronological order. I’ve straightened them out for you here. Additions are shown in italics.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

It's time now to move to the first class. (8:35 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
I'm going to Barbara Starkey, "Sourcing and Dispelling Myths" (8:37 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
As a speaker, I was offered a printed syllabus, but opted for a CD. (8:38 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
The entire syllabus is a single PDF file. Do I like that or not? (8:39 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
I've chosen to attend "Sourcing and Dispelling Myths" by Barbara Starkey. She's having problems adapting to the presentation technology. (8:43 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
Hopes to explain a method of sourcing that is easy enough that you will do it. (8:45 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
"New FamilySearch is not a good place to put your sourcing." (8:45 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
"The reason is, the sources you put in may disappear." (8:46 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
(Really? That's false. Do I interrupt?) (8:47 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
(Later in the class, she mentioned that the sources entered in NFS can become separated from the records in your pedigree. I’m not certain she knows that this is the explanation for the apparent disappearance of sources added to NFS. They don’t disappear!)
(Starkey recommended keeping your sources in your private, desktop file. Then once the feature is added, use a 3rd-party affiliate’s program to upload those sources. I think that’s good advice.)
(She didn’t know when this feature was coming, but a seemingly knowledgeable audience member suggested talking to the affiliate’s at the end of August.)
“As a trainer of the missionaries at the Family History Library, we saw the most incredibly bad sources. Ancestral File is not a good source. (8:48 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
3 types of sources: primary, secondary, gray (What?) (8:51 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
Primary sources – Sources that recount an event at or close to the time it happened, generally by an eye witness. (8:54 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
(She's making the common mistake of confusing sources with information.) (8:56 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
(By defining sources instead of information as primary or secondary, she's created the problem of dealing with those sources that contain both primary and secondary information (8:58 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
(Sources are original or derivative) (8:58 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
(Information is primary or secondary) (8:59 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
(Her mistake makes it necessary for her to create a 3rd type, which she calls gray sources.) (9:00 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
She's now talking about the parts of a source. (Technically, that's called a citation. Elizabeth Shown Mills encourages the distinction (9:02 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
She advises we record title, author, publication info, call/film #, repository, comments, citation info. (9:04 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
where citation info is page number, entry number and date, and date you viewed it. (9:05 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
"What type of sourcing record should I create?" (“Sourcing Record”? Too bad she doesn't use the industry standard term, "source list entry") (9:07 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
Choose between 2 types.
Her 2 different types are actually manual methods of dealing with the shortcomings in genealogy software. (9:08 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
Her two types are "location type" vs. "record type." (9:09 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
(With current software, you're forced into manually deciding how you wish your source lists organized. Then you invent titles that list the location first or the record type first. At least she’s totally rejected titles with the date first. That type has been discredited over the years. ) (9:10 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
She's illustrating with PAF, so she's forced to use PAF's incorrect terminology: source and citation. (9:12 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
(A PAF “source" is what Mills calls a Master Source List entry. (9:14 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
(Another unfortunate behavior of software is equating “Master Source List entry” with “Source List entry.”) (9:14 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
(No wonder people are confused...) (9:15 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
Starkey's method is good, practical advice for PAF users and a beginning audience, assuming they never try to learn more. (9:16 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
But I disagree with the use of improper terminology, as it will confuse those who go on to the Chicago Manual of Style or (9:18 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
or either of Elizabeth Shown Mills' books. (9:19 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
"Follow these 6 easy steps: 1. Create a title reflecting the record type 2. Find the author 3. Find the publication info (9:21 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
"4. The call number can be a book number, film number, or web address 5. Repository 6. Comments" (9:22 AM Jul 28th from TweetChat )
(I can endorse Starkey’s method for those who feel they are too old to learn anything beyond PAF. Otherwise, join 21st century genealogists by buying a current genealogy program and a Mills citation guide. All the reputable brands support Mills.

After the class someone asked Starkey a question from Mills’
Evidence Explained. She admitted she couldn’t answer the question because she’s never opened the book. In the days following the conference, my reaction to that statement has mellowed—extremely. If she gives this presentation again, I suggest the course description and the first sentence out of her mouth be an admission that she’s not read any of the industry’s best practices on her topic, but for those sticking with PAF, it’s a great system.

I thought PAF users were well served by this class. I can imagine that because of their attendance, several people who weren’t doing so before will start adding source citations to their PAF database.)

Remember that tweets are limited to 140 characters. Less the #byugen hashtag, each tweet could not exceed 132 characters. Hence, tweets often use abbreviations, bad grammar, and lack proper punctuation.


  1. Although I was not present, in reading through this... you're right ..we're confused out here. Although I had been working on our tree for several years, I was 'not into sourcing' until midway into it. It has been horrific to go back and find originals and records and then 'source' properly into my software files. I have adapted to more than one software deliberately in order to compensate for some shortcomings in each -- and sourcing is now a pet peeve. I am following Mills but hate that everyone uses their own 'lingo' and not all have a clue! Sigh - we need more consistency especially for newcomers and non-professionals like myself!

  2. I'm glad to see that my idea to wait for a 3rd party software to transfer my sources is supported by you. I'm also thrilled to be able to read your tweets of both the opening talk by Bro Groberg and especially of the class you attended - especially with your enlightening comments on the material. It is the next best thing to being there in the first place. Thank you! I surely hope and look forward to seeing all of your classes in this way. We learn so very much from you all along the way and this is icing on the cake. I am grateful to you for your insights.

  3. I agree, the Tweet comments are very insightful and was fun reading. Your comments should be sent to the presenter as well, for the benefit of all. I would have been shocked as well to find out the presenter hadn't opened Mills' book. While it may be daunting to a beginner to *dwell* on the contents, everyone should be aware of it's existence as a standard.


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