Image: frenta. Used with permission.
Citations have two purposes: locate the source and indicate its strength. This series of articles explains what we must do to accomplish these purposes for genealogical sources.
Cite the Source You See
It is a neat experience to travel to an ancestor’s home and feel a strong sense of belonging. I highly recommend it. Unfortunately, few hobby genealogists can invest as much time and travel into our hobby as we would like. Few of us can view the original records of our ancestors. We must instead rely on copies.
It is deceitful to cite sources we have not seen or used.1 This principle extends to copies that we as genealogists use.
Image copies may not be as clear as the originals. Indexed, abstracted, and transcribed copies may contain errors.2 Our citations must indicate the copies that we used. To do otherwise would be unethical and unwise.3
So far in this series of articles we have spoken of these purposes and principles for genealogical citations:
- Citations have two purposes: 1. Locate the source, and 2. communicate its strength.
- Cite the source you see.
1. The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, ed. Helen F. M. Leary, (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2000), 29.
2. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007), 28-31.
3. Mills, Evidence Explained, 52.