Citations! Citations! Citations!

Citation and documentation is extremely important in validating work completed by a genealogist. Paraphrasing Dick Eastman, ‘genealogy that is not documented is a myth.’ Citing sources often will show the strengths and weaknesses of a work to the researcher. New insights appear, and many times mistakes and errors are avoided.

An important part of doing family history work is publishing information to share with others. If a work is documented, it will be more credible than the family history that has no sources or citations even if it is totally accurate. Until a work contains documentation, it has limited value and questions will arise. A work that is cited is much stronger than a work that is not cited, even if the work is done correctly.

If a person goes to great lengths to research a family and connect the right persons together, it should be documented to help others who are following behind, to help in preparing future research, to save valuable research time by eliminating duplication of effort, and to show the value of the work the researcher conducted.

It is important, whether using original, printed, or on-line sources to keep track of them and to record them properly. The strength of a source is an important element in genealogical research. The value of the source can either strengthen or weaken research. Sources should be recorded on a research log or calendar. If a work is written in narrative format, information and sources should be cited in footnotes or endnotes. Genealogy databases should also contain source citations. Citation in chronological order on a timeline or in a genealogy database can help make better theories and hypotheses, and help the researcher become more successful in finding new information.

For help in creating citations, check out our handy Citation Guide.

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