The importance of CORRECT source citations!

We’re finally settled in New York City. Blane has started seminary, and I’m trying to decide what to do with myself. I’m looking for a job, but also considering going back to school myself. However, in all my thinking about what I’d like to do with my life, one constant remains: I LOVE GENEALOGY!!

I’ve started doing a little research into what it takes to become a professional genealogist. Surprisingly, not much! However, I’ve also discovered that there are some standards that I was unaware of in the past. For example, did you know that there was a standardized format for citing sources in your genealogical research? I suppose I should have been aware of that, especially since I have MANY sources in my personal genealogy that now have to be re-cited.

My biggest faux pas was how I cited my favorite sources–census records. I was content with citing the year of the census, and where I found it (usually on Then in my personal notes, I would include things like page numbers, line numbers, enumeration districts, etc. However, apparently all that information is supposed to be in the source citation. Each census record, even each family, should have it’s own separate source citation.

While I REALLY wish I had known this before creating over 100 very general sources that now need to be converted to possibly 1000+ individual record source citations, I also now realize why this is so important. Even though I have most of the necessary information recorded in order to find the record again (and even have digital copies of each record attached to the relevant ancestors in my genealogy program), it wouldn’t necessarily be a piece of cake for someone else to find the same record based on my notes. (In some cases, it’s not a piece of cake for me, either!) In addition, who knows how all that information would translate into a GEDCOM file, and what would be lost in the process.

So my main job now is to set aside the research for a bit and re-document all of my source citations. My genealogy program (I use Reunion for Mac, by the way) does allow images to be attached to sources as well as people, which will probably make things easier once I’ve fixed everything. I had noticed that in the past and wondered how I could take advantage of that feature without getting things too confusing. At the time, I thought it was overkill to be creating a separate source for each piece of paper or picture. Now, I wish I hadn’t been so lazy!

The positive side of this experience though is that I should be an EXPERT in source citations by the time I’m through!


One response to “The importance of CORRECT source citations!

  1. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.


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