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NOTE: Previously published in RootsWeb Review: Vol. 6, No. 13, 26 March 2003.
Editor: Myra Vanderpool Gormley, Certified Genealogist

Citing Electronic Sources

TIPS FROM READERS. Thanks to: Bonnnie Kohler

I picked up a guide sheet from the Palm Beach County Library called "Citing Your "Sites," which I have used so often that it is tattered. The information in the guide sheet was taken from "Beyond the MLA Handbook: "Documenting Electronic Sources on the Internet".

Here are three examples:

E-MAIL. Author. (author's e-mail address) "Subject Line." Date of post. Personal e-mail. (Date read).
Example: Andrec, Mike. andrec@glyco.chem.yale.edu "New England School of Bandura." 18 April 1996. Personal e-mail. (19 April 1996).

WEBSITE. Author (if known). "Title" (Main title if applicable). Last date updated or revised (if known). (URL) (date accessed).
Example: Ignatius. "To the Trallians." Early Church Documents (circa 96-50 A.D.). 1994. http://www.canapologetics.net/html/to_the_trallians.html

MAILING LIST. Author (if known). (author's e-mail address) "Subject Line." Date of post. (mailing list address) (date accessed). Example: Tracz, Orysia. tracz@cc.umanitoba.ca "Shevchenko in Love." 1 May 1996. ukes-social@sema.crl.mcmaster.ca (23 June 1996).


[Editor's Note: See also the following articles by Drew Smith: "Citing Messages""Citing Messages" - "Citing the Sites" - as well as: Citing Sources topic at Cyndi's List:


A great misconception of family tree hobbyists is that citing sources is only for professional or "serious" genealogists, and if you are doing genealogy for fun or "just for your family" you don't need to bother. Wrong -- unless, of course, you have lots of time and money to waste (so you can do the same research over and over again because you don't know where you have looked or where you found the information or can't determine which source is more likely correct when various "facts" start to argue), or if you don't care whether your genealogy is as accurate as possible and worth being passed along as a gift to your descendants so they can continue the work without reinventing the wheel.

One of the most difficult concepts about genealogical research for many to grasp and accept is that when you are citing sources you should use YOUR sources -- not your cousins' and not mine. If you obtain some information from my material posted at WorldConnect, for example, then I am your source of that information. Always cite the source that you actually used, not the one that someone told about or the one someone else makes a reference to. If Cousin Jack tells you that he obtained your mutual grandfather's birth information from a census, then your cousin is your source for that information. However, if you examine the census yourself, then it is your source and not Cousin Jack.

SOURCE OR EVIDENCE: What's the difference?

--Source is the means by which information comes to a researcher.
--Evidence is the physical form in which information is presented to the senses.


Created on March 29, 2003 - Betty Naff Mitchell, Web Mistress