Sources & Citations Series – What is a Citation?

Sources & Citations SeriesAs I said earlier in this series, in this post,

In short, think of a source and citation as a journey and destination. The destination is the source, whereas the citation is how you got there and how you and others might get there again.

A citation is exactly where you found a particular reference, and in the case of websites when the website was accessed. Essentially, it is confirming a factual statement by backing it up with evidence. The reference will enable you and others to follow your research road map.


Some twenty five years ago I came across a file of Bastardy Bond Papers sitting in a local heritage room in a Surrey (England) library. I occupied about two months by transcribing the material. When the Surrey History Centre in Woking was opened, about five years later, it amalgamated the research materials from the Surrey Records Office at Kingston, A wonderful resource called the Muniment Room at Guildford and the local studies library which had been located at the central library in Guildford.

All the materials from those repositories retained their original reference information, the citations. Fast forward another decade and I wanted to use the Bastardy Bond material in an article and went to check the reference material, so I began by asking where the papers were? They had been deposited at the Surrey History Centre it was believed, but none of the staff at that time could confirm it as they had not been working there at the time. The Surrey History Centre eventually confirmed it, but the reference material had been changed.

Meanwhile, I record the citation of where the material is now and I also note the previous location of the material, because others, like me may well have used that material whilst it had been in the original location. To me it adds to the providence of the information and the documentation’s journey.

Posted in Genealogy, One-Name Studies, One-Place Studies, Pharos - Introduction to One-Name Studies course, Sources & Citations Series | 2 Comments

Sources & Citations Series – What is a Source?

Sources & Citations SeriesThere are two types of sources:

  1. Primary Sources
  2. Secondary Sources

A Primary Source is something written at the time, by someone who had first hand knowledge of an event. For example, the diaries of Samuel Pepys. In his diary, he writes about the Fire of London in 1666 and tells of the destruction of the city.

A Secondary Source is something written later, after an event, and may even draw upon notes from a Primary Source. Someone writing about the Fire of London and using Pepys diary would be a secondary source.

What is not a source? In a genealogical sense, Ancestry or one of the three big data set providers is NOT a source. For example, a Census is the source, but you might have accessed it via a library, archive or via Ancestry.

I began my research before the internet, so I have print outs of the various Census documents, taken from the films. Let’s say I have been working on my Butcher ancestors, from the rural Surrey village of Wonersh. I would record the source as the reference number for the particular page, and year of the Census. If I then subsequently used that Census image or wanted to double check something, I might then use Ancestry and in that instance I would say “accessed via Ancestry and the date” I do that because, whilst Ancestry has the Census for Surrey online currently, they might not in the future.

Not all Primary Sources are accurate, and that could be for a variety of reasons. For example, I was Christened at the Church where three generations of my family had been Christened or married. My parents were given a Certificate of Baptism which named my Godparents and my full name, except that my middle name is recorded incorrectly. I can hypothesis why it is incorrect, but I do not know for sure.

The middle name recorded on my Certificate of Baptism, is in fact my Mum’s. I suspect that I was crying and the vicar asked for the middle name and Mum gave her own. As Mum is not here, I cannot ask her and it was one of those questions, that I never got around to asking before she passed away.

In my genealogical database, I have recorded the Christening date, I have added the image as part of my One-Name study site and the event linked to me, although it is not showing as I am still living. My hypothesis appears in the notes and is clearly identified that it is a hypothesis

So, you cannot believe all that you read!

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Sources & Citations Series –Differences between Sources and Citations.

Sources & Citations Series

In short, think of a source and citation as a journey and destination. The destination is the source, whereas the citation is how you got there and how you and others might get there again.

There are lots of types of sources and we talk in more detail about them in the next instalment, but here are a few to get you thinking:

  • Census
  • Directories
  • Diaries
  • Parish Records
  • Vital Records
  • Naturalisation Records
  • Taxation Records
  • Occupational Records
  • Land Grants
  • Newspapers

It is worth remembering that not all source material is mirrored across different locations.  Some might be country specific, an example of this is the Hearth Tax which will be found in the UK only. As will the 1939 Register, with only the records relating to those in England and Wales available online. Those in Scotland are held at the archives, but not freely available.

Census documents, whilst being mirrored across numerous Countries will provide different details, across the years and across the Countries.

Another point worth remembering is that whilst some of these sources are Primary Sources, (we discuss those tomorrow), not all Primary sources are in fact accurate.

Which of those Source documents have you used and have you used one that is Country specific?

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Sources & Citations Series – Introduction

Sources & Citations SeriesOver the course of the last few Introduction to One-Name Studies courses I have been asked a number of questions and thought that it was worth sharing them here. Over the course of the next few weeks I will share the questions and subsequent discussion. I hope you find it interesting.

Having just completed my recent series – Strategy for a Genealogical Project we are now going to move along to a series about Sources and Citations. This series will be of use and interest to genealogists and those undertaking specific projects, such as One-Name Studies, One-Place Studies, researching buildings etc. I shall also mention about collating a repositories list, although I may well come back to that later in the year, as a regular feature, so stay tuned for that.

Here is the series line up:

  1. Differences between sources and citations
  2. What is a source?
    1. primary sources
    2. secondary sources
    3. what is NOT a source
  3. What is a citation?
  4. What is the point of recording citations?
  5. References & Guidance for Citations
  6. Are sources ever wrong?
  7. Repository lists
  8. Genealogical Proof Standard
  9. Approaches to writing Citations
  10. Creating your own citations and guidance for others.

Some of this is covered in the Introduction to One-Name Studies course, and some of this discussion, assumes that researchers understand the differences  & appreciates the value of sources, citations and creating a Repository list.


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Strategy for a Genealogical Project – Preserve Your Work

genealogical project strategyIn an earlier post I talked about strategy, breaking it down into ten segments. Today I am going to write a about preserving your study which is essentially segment ten and the last in this particular series. You can read the strategy series HERE

I began all my studies, both relating surnames and places in the late 1980’s. Much of my work is on paper and my aim is to get all the material scanned and added to the relevant individual on my website. (I use Roots Magic for my genealogical programme and export a GEDCOM to TNG which populates on my website).

My website is with the Guild of One-Name Studies and is part of the Members’ Website Project. The project exists to preserve members studies after they are no longer members. At that point, the sites become a legacy sites and these are not updated.

There are other ways that you can preserve your work. The Guild offers surname profile pages and you can see my Orlando one here. Guild members have the option to have their profile retained by the Guild and identified as such. I have opted to have my profile page preserved.

I keep a regular back up schedule. I use Dropbox, Google Drive and currently I am using a USB stick to collate the images, photos and documents that are on my website. I shall then forward that stick to the Guild library. I also have an external hard drive and back everything up. I have also left written instructions so that items are given to particular individuals and they are retained within my family.

Thanks to the Guild, my actual genealogical data is preserved and it is so important to preserve your work, in case of your demise or some kind of disaster.

What are your preservation plans for the future? We do discuss this in more detail, in the Introduction to One-Name Studies Pharos Course

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Strategy for a Genealogical Project – Share your Study

genealogical project strategyIn an earlier post I talked about strategy, breaking it down into ten segments. Today I am going to write a about sharing your material which is essentially segment nine. You can read the strategy series HERE

There is a great deal of overlap between today’s post and yesterday’s, but we are bringing together genealogical strands to make a robust project.

Some of the folk in my study are written about on my blog, either as standalone pieces or I focus on a theme and write a post on my blog. Each post that is published is also set up to post to Twitter and my Facebook page. Articles can also be written, a number of the genealogical magazines will accept relevant pieces, also the Journal of One-Name Studies will take articles relevant to One-Name Studies, on occasion that features a fascinating person in someone’s study.

A profile page on the Guild website is also useful. They are indexed by Google and are a great way of advertising your work, as are websites.

One thing I have not mentioned is about presenting about your study. Over the years I have talked about my Orlando (Italian) study and back in 2017 I reworked a presentation about my Italian study and made it available on the Guild of One-Name Studies website, you can watch the presentation HERE and download the Syllabus that I wrote to accompany it. You can also see both the presentation and the syllabus on my Orlando Profile

By sharing your knowledge, whether that is answering an email or writing a post you are advertising the study. That might lead to some interesting connections and perhaps information for your study, or you might inspire others to start their own study.

I will be back tomorrow with the last segment in this particular series.

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Strategy for a Genealogical Project – Bring Material Together

genealogical project strategyIn an earlier post I talked about strategy, breaking it down into ten segments. Today I am going to write a about bring material together. which is essentially segment eight. You can read the strategy series HERE

I said in one of the earlier posts that this was much like bring the strands of a tapestry together and hopefully from today’s post you will see what I mean. There is much overlap with the last post and the next post.

You have gathered material for your project, whether that is from a data set extracting references to a surname or references from an archive relating to a place. At this point I am going to focus on the surname element, but will come back later, after this series finishes and talk about places.

I reconstruct family groups and follow the family through the Census recording places of birth (and any variations!), occupations, ages of children including missing children (did they die or go into service, the military of simply move away). I tend to draw out trees and I have shared this previous in this post. Once I am happy that I have the correct people in the correct family and I have the citations and sources ready I enter the material into my genealogical programme. Usually once a month I update TNG by uploading a GEDCOM file and the various images and pictures if I have them. On occasions there are people who leave a huge documentary footprint. For those folk I create an individual timeline and I wrote about that here and at this point the material is in my genealogical software. I write out a timeline, it helps me think and identifies what material I have and what I do not, which is just as important. In the case of Daniel Butcher, I have copies of the majority of the sales and purchases that he made in Surrey. All those document will be scanned and added to my website, linked to Daniel because he was a prolific character.

There are things I don’t know about him. From a variety of documents it is clear that he did have a good relationship with his brother Richard, they entered into a number of property deals together. Suddenly he was written out of Richard’s will. Daniel too was not liked by his wife’s aunt, she left a rather scathing comment about him in her will. He was a reputable member of the community and served at the manorial court. That was until he stopped serving ten years later. I get a sense that something happened to Daniel, I of course don’t know what and may never find out, but that does not stop me wanting to know and the search continues.

For individuals born later on, so they appear in the Births, Marriages and Death indexes I note down where the individual is on the Census, how old they say they are, where they were born, children, spouse, occupation. I track the individuals by using the material from FreeBMD and keep that material in a spreadsheet, much like a holding pen. As I track each marriage, I enter the details onto the spreadsheet and then into TNG. That way I can track how far through the marriages I am and add any documents to the individual in TNG.

Not all Guild members work this way, we each have our own method of working and ways in which we bring those strands together so we can build a profile of an individual’s life and consider how hard things would have been compared to our modern 21st Century existence where we can touch a button for pretty much everything.

Tomorrow I will be back, writing about sharing material.

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Six Degrees of Separation from Fight Club to…..

The #6Degrees meme occurs on the 1st of the month over at the blog, Books are my Favourite and Best which is written by Kate.

fight-clubThis month’s starting point is Fight Club which I have not read, nor have not seen the film. It doesn’t appeal to me at all, but I did read the reviews on Amazon and the preview that was available.

Nonetheless, I was able to eventually pull together a chain with ease, although not as much ease as last month!

ImperialFirst up is the Imperial Tea Party by Frances Welch which is about the dubious alliance that exists following the marriage of Alexandra, granddaughter to Queen Victoria to Nicolas II of Russia in 1894. The book has lots of accounts, written at the time of what the individuals concerned were thinking at the time. This is a well researched book and one I enjoyed.

Death by DarjeelingGiven my fascination and obsession with drinking tea I recommend the following literary blend of this lovely cozy series by Laura Childs. There are currently 19 books in the series, and as I like to read books in order, here is the first one,  Death by Darjeeling. This is a Tea shop mystery and they are easy read, gentle books, well that is apart from someone being murdered….

Next I am moving along to another light read, I have read about half ofMurder at the Book Club the book and rather enjoying it. It is a crime mystery, although I would not say it was a cozy mystery.

Guernsey Potato PeelKeeping with the book club theme, this is one of my favourites. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society. Set on the island of Guernsey during the second world war, it is the story of a book club that came together in rather unusual circumstances during the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands. The film released last year although I only recently managed to watch it. I enjoyed the film, it was a pleasant few hours to while away on a Saturday evening.

Guernsey Books by Anne AllenKeeping in the theme of the Channel Islands, the next is a series of books, written by Ann Allan, all the books are set in Guernsey and are a delightful read. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. I say series, but each book can be read as a standalone book and two more have been published since this image was taken. The author lives in the town I lived in and just over two years ago I went to a book reading, just as book four I think was released.

The Day the Nazi's cameAnd finally we arrive at the last book and we are keeping with the Guernsey theme. The day the Nazi’s came is a true account from the time when the Channel islands were occupied during the Second World War leading up to the movement of Islanders to the various camps in Europe.

Thanks Kate for another months of #6degrees. I look forward to next month.


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Strategy for a Genealogical Project – Get your Project Out There!

genealogical project strategyIn an earlier post I talked about strategy, breaking it down into ten segments. Today I am going to write a about connecting with others which is essentially segment seven. You can read the strategy series HERE

It is so important to connect with others, sharing the basic fact of your project – your Surname Research, the name of the place, school, house you are interested in.

If you don’t tell others, how will they know you and your project exist? Perhaps they might hear from someone else or perhaps they find a reference to you on the web, or maybe just luck.

Social media can be and often is, powerful. We have so many opportunities to share our projects, connect with others who might be looking to you for answers or hoping you can help them. Even if you cannot help at the first contact, you might be able to going forward. You both know each other exists and that is just as useful as you can engage in dialogue in the future.

Types of Social Media vary and yet in many ways they are identical. They reach the masses and can be found via very search options and even a simple Google search. You could use Twitter – set up an account with your project name, tag other groups into the tweets you send and re-tweet others. Facebook offers both pages and groups. A page is controlled very much by the admin, any posts made by others are not so easily found, nor are they profiled. A Facebook group, in the name of the study or project can simply have a presence online and enable people to join and share information and photos. You can check out Pinterest and perhaps set up a board for your study or project.

Members of the Guild with a registered study have a profile page for their surname. You can search the main website and reach out to the person who has registered the surname. If you are the member then set up a robust and inviting profile page – these are your study shop window. They are also indexed by Google. Some members complain they don’t hear from folk, to which I reply that you need to be where people are. You need to work your study, share it, shout it from the genealogical rooftops! Members with a registered study will be in the annual Guild Register which is published around July.

Members with studies can have a website hosted on the Guild platform for free as part of the Members’ Website Project, again these are indexed by Google and there are a number of options available. I personally have sites using TNG. Blogs are useful platforms to share your material. Some members of the Guild have theirs linked to their TNG site with the Members Website Project. I have mine hosted separately currently and I will write a bit more on that in the future, sharing a dilemma that I have. The point of a Blog is the ability to share information about your study and the individuals in the study. You can use WordPress or Blogger to host it, both a free of charge, but you can upgrade your WordPress account. There us also Typepad, which is a payable hosting service. We will come back to blogs and articles as part of day nine.

I view my website and study profile page as my shop. It remains fairly static although there are tweaks and additions to the site, in much the same way as a shop might rearrange the store. My blog is my shop window, it changes often, well as often as you write it, but it is a transient space.

You can connect with libraries, archives, small geographical history groups and advise them of your project. Write articles for local history societies, genealogical groups and magazines. Writes a newsletter making it available via a website, blog. Register it with the British Library (or equivalent if you are overseas) and finally you can add to the Guild library. I subscribe to the newsletter of Paul Howes for the Howes One-Name Study in which he shares interesting snippets he has come across during the previous month. Paul has impressively written since 2008. I only wish I could manage to write my Orlando newsletter as frequently!

Be creative in spreading the word of your study and tomorrow I shall be back with how you can bring your research all together as we discuss segment eight and we discuss more in the Pharos Introduction to One-Name Studies course


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Strategy for a Genealogical Project – Managing Research Results and Citations

genealogical project strategyIn an earlier post I talked about strategy, breaking it down into ten segments. Today I am going to write a about managing research results and citations which is essentially segment six. You can read the strategy series HERE

You are likely keen to get started with your project. But before you head off to set up spreadsheets and databases, consider what you want to achieve. By investing some time thinking about this, you will undoubtedly save time in the future.

What are the aims of your project? I have talked quite a lot about aims of a One-Name Study and you can read a number of posts HERE, in the Journal of One-Name Studies and not to mention my series in Family Tree Magazine (UK) during 2019. If you want to develop a website and use TNG then there is no point in creating a snazzy card index or spreadsheet, because you will waste time retyping your material. The best advice that I can give you is to select a piece of genealogical software and use that – Guild members tend to use one of the top three (in no particular order) – Roots Magic, Family Historian and Legacy. All of these have trial versions and I would recommend taking them all for a spin and seeing what fits with you. Spreadsheets do have a part to play and I personally add material to my spreadsheets and see them as a holding pen, before the individuals are added to my Roots Magic programme.

A number of Guild members add every individual to their genealogical program by fact, and then, as they confirm different elements merge the records into one. Some do not mind having rogue, unattached people in their database, whereas I prefer to have folk at least attached to someone else, either by a marriage or via their birth linked to the parents. None of these methods are right or wrong. It has to work for you and it is only by trial will you find what fits with your way of thinking.

As you will at some point be adding individuals to your genealogical programme you will be adding citations and sources to the records. You might find that you have more than one source per event, see this example:

  • Baptism record from the parish record
  • Birth record from the General Registrar Office (GRO) with the index available from any number of the subscription sites or Family Search or FreeBMD
  • Other factors, such as you might provide the source as a link to another study – my own Grandmother’s birth in 1912 will have the both the baptism and birth recorded and I will also link the Matthews One-Name Study as another source, that way we can “cross pollinate” with other studies

The same applies to marriages and perhaps more so, as each marriage has at least two surnames (unless the bride marries someone of the same surname) and therefore can perhaps link into another study. I have a number of Butcher & Howes marriages for example. Of course, it is not necessarily an event linking to another study. Perhaps there is a link to another Guild member rather than a study, an event from a Guild member’s own family history or a recorded submitted to the Guild indexes.

You might decide to keep, as I do a master file of material. I hold my master file in Evernote, but may well move it across to One-Note in the future. I also have a file in Google drive and as I add material to my website I add the images to the file in Google drive with the intention of adding these to the Guild library for safe keeping. I also keep a back up in Dropbox and on a separate hard drive.

When you are researching and gathering material, ensure that you note or record the citation for the record, especially if you are using the web clipper in Chrome for adding material into Evernote. You might recall what you were looking at four hours later, but not perhaps four years later! and there is nothing worse than having to revisit sites because you did not record the citation appropriately. It is also worth mentioning that some indexes are updated from time to time and therefore might need more than one visit.

Again the best advice I can give to someone starting out is do not drown in research material. All the records will still be there in the future, so try and avoid data overload and focus on working on the material you have. However, Guild members are very good at sharing material with others, certainly for my Butcher study not a week goes by when I do not receive an obituary or other communication and it has been known that I have stopped my current work to focus on whatever I have been sent. Nothing wrong with that, but remember to document your sources and research.

I will be back tomorrow with segment seven, chatting about connecting with others and spreading the word about your study. In fact there is some overlap with the last four segments, but think of it as a tapestry, gathering the strands together to make a fantastic picture.

Posted in Genealogy, One-Name Studies, One-Place Studies, Pharos - Introduction to One-Name Studies course, Strategy for a Genealogical Project | 3 Comments