Monday, June 27, 2011

Blog 91: Citing Sources

So You Can Go Back and Verify

Anyway, it’s Blogging Time! This is a blog I meant to do for a few months, but it kept getting put off. I figured not it’s about time that I address this issue!

Knowing where you got your information is important, it helps to verify the information and when you want to go back to see if any of your sources are updated. This is especially important considering most of us do our genealogy research on the Internet and sometimes sites shut down. With my history background, I know that it is VERY IMPERITIVE that you cite your sources to prevent plagiarism. I prefer Chicago Style and used Chicago Style when I wrote my Hoffman Book, and it’s really difficult for me to go back to APA or MLA. We should bring that concept into Genealogy as well and cite everything we possibly can. It prevents us from making mistakes and spreading misinformation.

Yesterday, I peaked at my Dad’s family tree maker and found that he was redoing it. It drove me crazy with how he was doing it. For example for Edward Reinhold he put “son’s death certificate.” That is all, his sources are either “daughter’s marriage certificate,” or “Son’s obituary.” It literally drove me up the wall. He’s redoing his genealogy too to make it neater (vs. me who wants every little thing I can possibly get), and he’s citing his sources the same way. For me, I cite dates and not names usually where I get my dates I can get names!

I mainly use Family Tree Maker for imputing my genealogy. You may have your own way to cite your information, and I have mine. I usually use Chicago Style for genealogy, but sometimes I make up my own. It’s the one I used in my history courses…and I really don’t like to go back to other forms. So Thanks a lot Professor Kersten and Professor Voelker!

Citing Sources for Family Tree Maker


When I cite censuses, depending one whether it’s federal or a local census, I keep it simple and straight forward.


1900 United States Federal Census. National Archives Administration. Washington DC.

1880 United States Federal Census. National Archives Administration. Washington DC.

If I listed every single state that I found these censuses, it would clutter up my Master Source List, so I don’t do that. I usually list residential area instead with the dates if I had them and then cite the census at the time. For individual state censuses I’ll list the year and the state and follow the same pattern, who published it and where was it found. Sometimes for both types of censuses I’ll list “Microfilm” under the format button, but because that doesn’t show up in the genealogy report, I leave it alone.


For books, I use the same standard way that has been pounded into our heads throughout our school careers. Basic form is book title, author, city: publisher, publishing year and source location. If I downloaded a book from Google Books, I usually see a source location stamp and I use that for the source location. I’ll put book down for the books I downloaded.

Examples (how it appears on my master sources):

A Genealogy of the Warne Family. George Warne Lahaw. Frank Allaben Genealogical Company, 1911. Wisconsin State Historical Society.

A History of the Cutter Family of New England. Dr. Benjamin Cutter. David Clapp & Sons, Boston, 1874. Wisconsin Historical Society.

Vital Records

Vital records (Birth, Marriage, and Death) I keep simple and straight forward. I differentiate between a Birth Record and a Birth Certificate. Birth or Death records I’ll list Birth Record-County (I Drop the Vowels, except for counties that start with Vowels), Location


Birth Certificate-DKLB. Dekalb County Courthouse, Illinois.

Death Certificate-OCNT. Oconto County Courthouse. Oconto, Wisconsin.

Marriage Certificate-MCDNGH,IL. McDonough County Courthouse. Macon, IL.

Sometimes states post their indexes online; if that’s the case I’ll just cite the state index, the available years, author, where it can be found. I was surprised that there were several states where I could access the indexes to birth records, especially for individuals that are still living and are famous.


For Obituaries I list the relatives name and obituary. The newspaper or website I found it on, where it can be found and on what form. Sometimes I’ll list the newspaper, especially if I got it off a message board.


Amelia Scanlan Obituary. The Oconto County Reporter. Farnsworth Library, Oconto, WI

Appleton Post Cresent-OBIT. Appleton Post Cresent. 2007.

Messages Board Postings

For message board postings, I’ll post the Subject Title, the author or the reply, the website and message board I found it on. I usually use or for my message boards. I only have one example of message board postings, but I hope that it gives you a good idea on how I cite message boards.


Adna and Clarissa (Cutter) Colburn of MA/IL/MN Family. Deborah Marlett. Colburn Message Board.


Websites and Gedcoms I do a little differently, so I’ll address them separately. Websites, I do the title of the site, the author, and where it can be located. I put the web address in both the publication and source location boxes on Family Tree Maker.


The World According to Jeff Babcock. Jeff Babcock.

Descendants of Michael Meyer. Brian Meyers.


My main rule with Gedcoms is that whenever I import a new one, the first name that matches what I have gets cited. If I import a Gedcom on Isabel Cutter, my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather Richard Cutter’s sister, I’ll cite her name with the gedcom I imported. Then when I get around to getting all her descendants cited, I know that I got this information from this particular gedcom. Gedcoms sometimes will come with extra information that I don’t necessarily want (like record changes), so I clean them up before I import them into my main family tree maker.

Okay, how I format my gedcoms: Title, Author, web address for both publication and location. If I have a note to where I started the import, I’ll put that down too.


Ray Stevens Gedcom. Ray Stevens. Note: Starting with Lydia Harrington going back in time.

Judy’s Gedcom. Judy Blackman.


This is for general stuff that doesn’t quiet fit into a nice neat little category. Self published books, family documents and family members. For citing those items, I’ll post title, author, and where it can be found. For letters, I’ll post who wrote the letter in the title. For individual family members, I’ll post the name and the date I talked to them. If a family member gave me a genealogy report, I’ll post who the genealogy report is about and who gave me the report. I hope I gave you enough of a general idea that I don’t really need to provide any examples.

There you folks have it, blog on how I cite my sources. You may take it anyway you want, but I hope that I educated you on how to cite your sources and provided examples of how to do it. Even while writing this blog, I see that there are some problems I have with some of my citations and I plan on getting those until next week! See ya later!

PS: Prevent the spread of the flu: Constantly Wash Your Hands!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tags: Family Tree Maker, Ancestry, Elsye’s Genealogy Blog

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

#90 Getting the Kids Involved

A brainstorming session

The question of getting kids involved in genealogy has dogged me for the pas few years. So much so, that every once in a while I work on a genealogy curriculum for schools. I made my own family group sheets, individual cards, pedigree charts and for schools I made an individual worksheet with a few questions for the students to work on. My intent was as the children go through school they build on their genealogies and learn how to research for future science projects, English papers, and social studies projects. Now let the brainstorming begin!

Getting kids into genealogy is hard and going to take time, so you might want to start the process before they are even born! If you have old family photos or pictures, especially those that have grandparents, great-great parents and beyond, I would have a family photo wall in your house! My cousin Keith has a wall like this, with copies of old family photos and people ask about it and he tells them that the people in the photos are grandparents, aunts, and uncles and the like. Having this wall gets the kids familiar with their ancestors from the time their babies.

When, kids are really little, do not get too hung up on explaining your genealogy going back to Adam and Eve. Start small. Start with yourself, your siblings, and your grandparents. If your child does something that reminds of you of a story tell your child the story. If you have family time, use that time to share stories about the family or share stories at bedtime.

A second suggestion with photos is on a computer, you can take individual ancestors’ or relative’s pictures put them into paint or any photo program and type their names-print off. Get a poster board and draw a tree (similar to a pedigree chart) on it. Put Velcro on the individual pictures and the poster board. During story time, bring out the board and have the child put the photo on the poster and talk about the individual, tell stories or memories about that particular person.

You can also take your children places where their ancestors lived and worked. Sometimes, you might be able to show the kids inside the house where their grandpa grew up in, be sure to ask. You can also take them to the cemetery (be sure to teach them proper cemetery etiquette) and show them where their ancestors are buried. Be sure to bring paper and crayons, so they can make etchings of the headstones.

My Idea for Incorporating Genealogy into School Curriculums

Okay, every once in a while I work on getting some sort of genealogy packet together to bring into the schools. I was a history major in college and doing genealogy while working towards that goal made history even easier. I had stories of my ancestors and corresponded to events in history-Oscar Coen was shot down over France and was missing for several months. Uncle Charles Cutter was an engineer on Underground Railroad. There were only two Cutters from Pelham, New Hampshire who fought in the American Revolution. If you are descended from royalty, you might find yourself muttering “Grandpa” or “Grandma” under your breath, whenever the teacher mentions your blue blooded relations!

When a child is in first grade, you get the basic questions, who are your grandparents, who are your parents, and where are your origins? You don’t go any further in family explorations. Well, I want to take it further and teach children research skills that they can take into college and have their own genealogies! Now this is a rough outline of what I had in mind, but I hope there are some good ideas in it. My intent is that when they start, students will have a folder that they will keep throughout their school career and that by the time they enter high school they will know how to research and an actual genealogy binder with all their information in a neat presentation.

First and Second Grade: Getting a family tree established with self, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, granduncles and grandaunts, and gathering initial photos of relations and short stories and getting country of origins for their families as well.

Third and fourth grade: Basic research skills, getting dates and getting great grandparents and their siblings, perhaps a field trip to a local history room or a cemetery is in order. In third grade, they will start keeping a genealogy journal and this is the opportunity for students to interview grandparents and parents about their memories. They record what they interview in their journals.

Fifth and Sixth Grade: More Research skills including basic citation. During this period we’re going beyond the four initial generations, I would put the number to at least seven generations, and we’re actually doing an initial set up for their genealogy book, staring with their parents doing an initial write up with photo. Part of their English and Writing classes, students will be required do to a biographical piece and a fictional piece about an ancestor of their choice.

Seventh and Eight Grade: Finalize the genealogy books with photos, and stories. Teaching the students more citation-the different formats MLA, Chicago and APA and giving them research tips for the future if and when they want to go beyond their initial school project. If by any chance, need to know some family facts for any class in high school, they’ll have handy their project for that assignment. Actually this happened to my cousin and who do you think he called?

That my fellow researchers, is how I would incorporate genealogy into a school curriculum. That concludes my blog on getting kids into genealogy. If there are any additional ideas, fell free to leave your comments below! I hope I had a few good ideas on how to get kids into genealogy. Welp, folks until next time!

Tags: Elyse’s Genealogy Blog, school projects, children, genealogy, suggestions, brainstorming