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From: "" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] A Better Way to Cite Online Sources
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2009 11:03:18 -0700


Thank you for your comments about the video, but more importantly your efforts to teach students the importance of source citation.

Here are a few points of clarification. I propose:

That the genealogy community (genealogists, family historians, software companies, subscription database sites, etc.) adopt the Evidence Explained citation style for genealogy research
That the major providers of online records (Ancestry, FamilySearch, Footnote, World Vital Records, GenSeek, etc.) start providing EE-style citations for all new records.
That the major providers of online records establish a plan to add EE-style citation to their existing databases.
That the citation be provided as both human-readable text as well as a standard computer-readable file format.
That this file format be defined as a collaborative effort by representatives of the major parties involved.
That this file format supports the level of detail provided by the EE QuickCheck models and allows for additional information such as references to digitized images, transcripts, and association with information such as people, places, dates, and events.
That genealogy software companies add support to their applications to import this file format.
That genealogy software that allows for creation of websites using a researcher's personal database, support the creation of pages that provide links to citation files.

Genealogy software will not write the citations. The providers of the online sources will write the citation using the style defined in EE or related QuickSheets and make that citation available following a standardized file format that genealogy software will read and import.

I would like to take a moment to agree with a comment that Elizabeth Shown Mills made on the TGF list. A better title for my effort would be: "Simplifying Online Source Citations".

Mark Tucker


From: "Daniela Moneta" <>
Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2009 10:25 AM
Subject: Re: [APG] A Better Way to Cite Online Sources

Hi Mark,

Your idea about having our genealogy software programs write a citation for
us using information from commercial online databases would be very
difficult, in my opinion. I think that writing a proper citation is not
something that can be done by a machine but I am not a computer programmer
so you would have to help me understand how this could be done.

I teach family history online at Arizona State University and I require my
students to use Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained as a reference for
writing source citations. It is a sixteen week class and about 95% of the
students are beginners to family history. Four months is not a long time to
learn how to do genealogical research, locate records, learn how to write
source citations, and write a four-generation narrative family history.
Since it is a short class, you can imagine that they use a lot of online
sources. All the public libraries in the area have subscriptions to
Ancestry.com, the county libraries allow them to search Heritage Quest from
home, and the Family History Centers have subscriptions , including
Footnote. I do have them order a few FHL microfilms for records that are not
available online which gives them an opportunity to use the Family History
Library online catalog to see what else is out there besides the Internet.

During the semester, assignments include locating and writing a citation for
the following record types: vital, census, immigration, military, land, and
court records. Writing the citation using Evidence Explained is a challenge.
Even thought I tell them over and over that their citations have to be
written using EE, they often submit ones from the online databases. Here is
a comment I made to one of my students about the citations he submitted:

Michael, The citations you submitted are generic, copied from the
Ancestry.com website, and are not what I am teaching in this class. But, I
am thrilled that you found such interesting information about your ancestor.
I will not take points off for incorrect citations as long as students use
their textbook Evidence Explained and not just copy off the Internet. For
this assignment, I have given you 45 out of 50 points.

I hope that you will take away from this class how to properly cite a
document. If your descendants, were to read your family history paper they
may or may not be able to find the documents you are citing. Ancestry.com
may not be around years from now and even if it were, it would probably be
organized differently. Also, it is a subscription database and you need a
password to access it or have to use it in a public library. Who knows what
the future will be like? Therefore, it is important to cite your documents
in a standard, academic format.

Please take a moment to compare the citation that Ancestry.com and other
commercial databases give out with their products, and the examples in
Evidence Explained. I am not asking students to submit copies of the
original documents with their final paper; therefore, the citation is a
"substitute" for the original document.

Take a look at the generic citations from Ancestry.com that you submitted
and then compare them to the ones I put together using Elizabeth Shown
Mills' Evidence Explained:

This is your citation from Ancestry.com for Joseph Grady. [Note that your
citation was in the format style used for "Works Cited" or in a
bibliography. In this class we are using the format used for Reference Notes
(as you would use in a footnote in your final paper) which uses
sentence-style punctuation with minor items separated by commas rather than
periods. When you are writing the biographical information about Joseph
Grady in your final paper, you will footnote where you found the information
at the bottom of the page.]

Ancestry.com: McNeil Island, Washington, Penitentiary Records of Prisoners
Received, 1887-1939 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations
Network, Inc., 2008. Original data: McNeil Island Penitentiary Records of
Prisoners Received, 1887-1951; (National Archives Microfilm Publication
M1619, 4 rolls); Records of the Bureau of Prisons, Record Group 129;
National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Here is a citation for the same record using Evidence Explained, the
examples used were found on page 187 and I combined it with the QuickCheck
Model on page 240 for digital images found on online commercial sites:

"McNeil Island, [Seattle] Washington Penitentiary Records of Prisoners
Received, 1887-1939," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com
: 19 April 2009), image from prisoner commitment log, Joseph Grady, contempt
of court in Northern Division District Court at Seattle, Washington, 22 May
1894; citing National Archives microfilm publication M1619, 4 rolls, no
specific roll cited.

This is your citation from Ancestry.com for the draft card for Willard
Grover Dimond:

Ancestry.com: World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database
on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original
data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service
System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National
Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family
History Library microfilm

Here is the citation using Evidence Explained. The example I used was on
page 598 and I combined it with the QuickCheck Model on page 240 for digital
images found on online commercial sites:

"World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital images,
(http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 28 March 2009), Willard Grover Dimond,
Registration Card No. 56, Draft Board 1, Lake County, Indiana; citing World
War I Selective Service Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, NARA microfilm
publication M1509, 1503888.

So, Mark, using these two citations, do you think that a genealogy software
program can convert a generic citation from a database like Ancestry.com
into a format that is more in line with those in Evidence Explained?

By the way, I am a librarian and also teach library instruction. Students
for their other classes use Modern Language Association (MLA) and American
of Psychology Association (APA) style formatting for citations. I know that
the MLA came out last month with a revised format. They no longer use
websites in their citations. They use the words PAPER or WEB . For those
interested, here is what the new MLA format looks like for things found on
the Internet for works cited :

Online Database Scholarly Journal Article Cite online journal articles from
an online database as you would a print one. Provide the database name in
italics. Library information is no longer required. List the medium of
publication as Web and end with the date of access.

Berger, James D. and Helmut J. Schmidt. "Regulation of Macronuclear DNA
Content in Paramecium tetraurelia." The Journal of Cell Biology 76.1 (1978):

JSTOR. Web. 20 Nov. 2008.

Lubell, Sam. "Of the Sea and Air and Sky." New York Times. New York Times,

26 Nov. 2008. Web. 1 Dec. 2008.

Cohen, Elizabeth. "Five Ways to Avoid Germs While Traveling." CNN.com. CNN,

27 Nov. 2008. Web. 28 Nov. 2008.

Daniela Moneta, CG

Phoenix, Arizona

Message: 9

Date: Mon, 20 Apr 2009 14:23:48 -0700

From: "Mark Tucker"

Subject: [APG] A Better Way to Cite Online Sources


Message-ID: <002601c9c1fe$4b18a4d0$e149ee70$@com>

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

I feel this topic is important for professional genealogists and that is why

I am posting it here.

Phoenix, AZ - April 20, 2009. Every genealogist and family historian from

beginner to professional will at some time confront the issue of source

citations. Although great advances have been made in recent years to

standardize and simplify citations, it is still too difficult. Today on

ThinkGenealogy.com a video was released that proposes a better way to cite

online sources.


This 7.5 minute video consists of two sections. The first section discusses

some of the current issues with citing sources especially when it comes to

online sources. The second section demonstrates an approach to quickly and

accurately cite online sources. The technology needed to accomplish this

exists today. The changes proposed by this video requires collaboration

between various providers of genealogy software and services.

As a genealogy community, we have at times united to get our voices heard in

such areas as records preservation & access, NARA fees, and other topics of

key concern. You are invited to watch the video, provide feedback, and

learn how we can work together to make citing online sources approachable to

all researchers.

About ThinkGenealogy.com

ThinkGenealogy.com is a blog created in July 2007 to discuss ideas and

innovation in genealogy and genealogy software. It was recently recognized

by ProGenealogists, Inc. as one of the 25 Most Popular Genealogy Blogs for

2009. To learn more, visit: www.ThinkGenealogy.com


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