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.
I couldn't agree more.ReplyDelete
Please clarify this. When I go to an archive, and get a copy from a microfilm which was made from an original (or possibly from another microfilm of the original), should my citation say "from a copy of a microfilm of an original?" What if the microfilm is several generations from the original, what then?ReplyDelete
Excuse my ignorance, but as someone still learning the correct way to cite sources, will you please clarify? Does that mean if I have a photocopy of death certificate that belongs to someone else, I should cite the repository as that person? And not the repository that she got it from? Is the purpose to cite so that someone else may find it also? Or just to show where I found it personally? Thank you!ReplyDelete
I don't understand what you mean by "I have a photocopy of death certificate that belongs to someone else".
-- The Insider
I reread your post and I think I understand what you are saying. You mean that one shouldn't cite a record that they haven't actually seen, such as citing a birth certificate based on information from an index (for example). Is that correct or am I misunderstanding still? I'm sorry!ReplyDelete
As we shall see, your citation will include both the copy that you saw and the original.
-- The Insider