Friday, April 24, 2009

Learn From My Mistakes - Source Everything

Nearly a year ago, I made the decision that I was going to completely redo my genealogy because I was so frustrated with not having sources on 95% of my work. I was so angry and fed up with my poor work that I just decided to start all over.

So that is exactly what I did. I began with myself and worked my way back. I sourced every single document I had - and I did it correctly. Now, almost a year later, I have 158 people in my tree.

I've come to learn that genealogy isn't a race. It's not about how many people you have in your tree or how far back it dates - which is exactly what I thought when I began this hobby. Its about the detail, the sources, the evidence, the hunt! It's about breathing a life into your ancestors and honoring the lives that they lived.

My old, unsourced tree had 918 people in it. My new, completely sourced tree, has 158 people in it. Give me the small sourced tree over the big unsourced tree any day!

But What Does "Cite Your Sources" Mean?

I suggest that you refer to this Source Citation Quick Reference sheet over at - it is a great reference tool to have. In fact, I suggest you print it out and keep it close whenever you are doing research.

But remember, this isn't enough. I suggest you buy Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian (Which you can find in my Genealogy Store)

When you cite your sources, think of it as a way for another person to find that source. So "1930 Census" is not enough. Why? Because it isn't specific enough. You want to give enough information that it serves as almost a "link" to the record itself.

So please....learn from my mistakes and cite your sources! You don't want to have to completely redo all of your hardwork.


Cheryl said...

Oh Elyse, I wonder how many of us have been there? I am also going through my tree checking or redoing sources. It frustrates me that there isn't a place in my software that will print a report that shows who I may be missing. I have redone my tree before, I may have to do it again as I am not happy with my sources. When I re-did it the first time, it was not because of sourcing reasons. It is great you are getting the word out, hopefully someone will benefit from it!

Jennifer said...

I totally did the same thing! My old database has 6100 people in it and my new database has 1700. I'd take my new one anyday as well!

Shasta said...

I think everybody has made this newbie mistake. Now I can save the record itself electronically and attach it to the file, I find it so much easier! I didn't start over though - just added records as I go along.