13 July 2007

Citations for Canadians

One of BIFHSGO's most prominent members, and friend, Alison Hare, CG, spent considerable time earlier this year reviewing chapters of a new book, Evidence Explained - Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG. In June Alison gave a talk at the OGS Annual Seminar, and provided a helpful four page handout Citations for Canadians giving examples. These are divided into Basic citations from the original or a microform copy, Archival citations from Library and Archives Canada and Archives of Ontario sources, and Internet source citations.

There's too much content to delve far into it, but let's look at an Internet source citation, an Ontario death registration with information found from ancestry.ca. It's for the death of John James O'Brien in December 1925. Ancestry's sourcing reads:

Source Citation: Roll: MS935_323.
Source Information:

Ancestry.com. Ontario, Canada Deaths, 1869-1932 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Deaths - 1869-1932. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario. MS935, 455 reels.
To this you need to add the year and registration number from the image.

The citation in the format Alison recommends is:

John James O'Brien, Ontario death registration 010717 (22 December 1925); digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 12 July 2007), citing microfilm MS935 reel 323, Archives of Ontario, Toronto.

I've highlighted in red the information that would apply to all Ontario civil death registrations, you might consider that the master source. Note that the information specific to this particular registration, and my access of it, is found in four different places in the citation.

If you've tried using the source capability in FTM or Legacy Family Tree software you will appreciate that producing a citation in this recommended format, with non-master source information in four different locations, is more than a challenge. I find it very frustrating. Alison comments that "genealogists creating their citations in genealogy software will likely want to order the elements differently ..... The key is to be consistent from one citation to another within any given work."

It's almost as if software companies and the creators of these citation formats were conspiring to make life difficult for the genealogist.

I've previously mentioned the site BibMe which creates citations for books, websites, magazine, newspaper and journal articles. You get a choice of MLA, APA and Chicago formatting. 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? Is there anyone reading this with sufficient computer skills to do this?

If you're interested in the new book Evidence Explained you might want to take advantage of the opportunity to win a copy as mention on Randy's Musings blog.

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