Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Cite your genealogy sources, eat your broccoli

The first President Bush endeared himself to millions when he said "I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli." He's now well past his 80th birthday and his broccoli-phobia doesn't seem to have hurt him.

I feel rather the same way about citing the sources of my genealogical information. Yes, I know that citation will help me and others find information again, and avoid a lot of needless searching when conflicting information comes to light. Unfortunately it's plain dull, there's a substantial overhead to assembling a source citation, and experts with claws ready to pounce when its not done according to Hoyle.

The new site BibMe might help a bit for books, websites, magazine, newspaper and journal articles. You get a choice of MLA, APA and Chicago formatting depending on the taste of the editor. For many books you can go online, enter the title, and it will find the rest and fill in the blanks. Often a blank form is presented which at least does away with the burden of formatting.

Wouldn't it be nice to find a similar handy web utility to help with at least the most common genealogical citations, for civil registration and census sources? Even better would be the online database providing a citation you could cut and paste into your document or transfer to your genealogy database.

To learn how to cite sources correctly come to the OGS Seminar in Ottawa, June 1-3. Alison Hare will speak on "Citations for Canadians" on Saturday afternoon in a presentation sponsored by the Ontario Chapter, Association of Professional Genealogists. I know several people who have it marked in their schedule as not-to-be-missed.

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