Some of you may recognize the text below, because it was part of a conversation that took place on FTMTECH-L. Carla Ridenour, editor of the National Genealogical Society's Computer Interest Group Digest , was answering questions and giving tips about using Family Tree Maker's source documentation features. We thought this information was so good that we'd share it with everyone!
Q: I'm curious to know how to enter source information for newspaper articles and other information.
A: I try to create a verbal road map so that I can quickly return to the exact source if I ever need to find it again. I also try to describe the source in enough detail so that I or someone else will know exactly where and what to look for 10 or 20 years down the road. For example, in addition to a descriptive title, date, author and publisher, a source entry for a newspaper article might include the date the item was found plus the page, column and paragraph number, if known. It would also say what format it was in when I viewed it, such as a current newspaper, an old clipping tucked inside a family Bible, an abstract in a book, or a copy on microfilm or CD-ROM.
In addition, I would indicate where I found it, such as at home or in a library or historical society; and if I or another family member has the original clipping or a photocopy and where it's stored. I also note whether I've included a digital image of it in an Individual or Marriage Scrapbook and if the information in the article conflicts with or confirms other names and dates in my file. If appropriate, I would include an excerpt from the text or other comments and explanatory notes.
In other words, the who, what, when, where, and why. My husband calls me the Queen of Overkill but recording every piece of information I can find helps provide clues later -- especially since my research is usually interrupted by other tasks and I need a "You Are Here" notation when I return.
When citing sources, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that you should always cite the exact source. Richard Lackey, author of "Cite Your Sources" devotes several pages in his book to this "rule" and writes that "Any reference must reflect the exact form in which the researcher personally found the source. Too many genealogists feel compelled to indicate or infer that the source of their information was a personally-examined original document when, in fact, it was a published abstract or the contribution of a generous correspondent." This always reminds me of a line from one of Jimmy Buffet's songs that warns "Don't try to describe the ocean if you've never seen it."
Q: I thought the rules for citing sources say that the name of an article goes in quotes.
A: It all depends on whose rules you follow :-). Family Tree Maker's footnotes are based on the Chicago Manual of Style. If you select Newspaper or Magazine from the Source Media drop-down list in the Master Source dialog box, Family Tree Maker will automatically surround your title with quotes, if you select Book or Microfilm it will italicize it. Some of the other choices will leave the title as plain text. You can also edit the footnote so that the words and punctuation for the final text appear any way you want.
I find it helpful to preview a one-generation genealogy report (without notes) immediately after entering a source so that I can see what the footnote will look like when printed and, if necessary, edit the entry while the source document is still at hand. I also check the Master Source drop-down list in the Source-Citation dialog box to make sure the title I've assigned each master source is unique so that I'll be able to easily recognize it if I want to attach it to another individual or event.
My final step is to preview the Bibliography report so I can see if all my entries are consistent. When I started converting my sources, I decided to alphabetize book and article authors by surname, but sometimes I forget and enter the given name first. The same holds true for headstones and birth, death, and marriage certificates etc. These items can be alphabetized by item type or individual surname depending on how you enter the title: "Headstone of Ruby Gartzke" or "Gartzke, Ruby headstone."
Q: What about census records? What do you enter in all the fields?
A: This depends on the form the record was in when you viewed it: an index, printed copy, microfilm, etc. If you've used the same census to identify several families, the Annotated Bibliography will be more meaningful if you add this information to the Comments field in the Master Source dialog box, and perhaps even list the names of the individuals and other info exactly as it appears in the record. Page and line numbers are also important. They will be included in the footnote and/or Documented Events report if you enter them in the Citation Page field provided in Source-Citation dialog box. However, if you want page and line numbers to show up in the Annotated Bibliography report, you will need to duplicate the information in the Comments field of the Master Source dialog box.
You have lots of options when it comes to entering sources and other items in Family Tree Maker. For example if you assign a reference number for each source, you can use it to identify the source of information you add to the biographical note fields. Footnotes without referenced sources can be used to record name preferences or variations, or you can edit the footnote so that a complete source entry appears the first time the source is cited and a short form used whenever it's repeated, as in the following example (the numbers 1 through 10 in the italicized example refer to the numbered items 1 through 10 that are in the Endnotes):
Catherine2 Bonnett (Lewis1) was born Abt. 1812 in Lewis County, West Virginia2,3, and died 02 October 1845 in Wasco County, Oregon while descending the hill to the Deschutes River4,5,6,7. She married John Butts8,9,10 01 November 1834 in Weston, Lewis Co, West Va.11, son of Henry Butts and Margaret Peterson.
As always, it helps to create a test file and experiment with the different reports and source and data fields to see what kind of results you get. Your final choices may be influenced by whether you use your main database primarily as a research tool, a presentation tool or a combination of the two. You will want to make this decision before you spent time converting you existing sources to the new format.
Q: What's the proper way to enter source information?
A: My suggestion would be to use whatever method works best for you, however there are several helpful publications available in print or on the Web that can help you decide. These include "Cite Your Sources, A Manual for Documenting Family Histories and Genealogical Records" by Richard S. Lackey and the "Silicon Valley PAF Users Group PAF Documentation Guidelines." Both booklets provide a variety of source samples and other helpful tips. Lackey's book sells for approximately $10 and is available at most bookstores. The Silicon Valley booklet is $3.00, and you can reach them at 4417 Pitch Pine Court, San Jose, CA 94136, by phone (408-578-4619) or online .
The University of Oregon provides links to other sites that are especially helpful for citing electronic sources.