Genealogy Do-Over – Week 5: 30 January – 5 February 2015


The Genealogy Do-Over - Week 5 Topics: 1) Building a Research Toolbox an 2) Citing Sources.

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Previous topics in the Genealogy Do-Over:


Topics: 1) Building a Research Toolbox an 2) Citing Sources

Here we are in the fifth week already of the Genealogy Do-Over and this week’s focus is all about tools: finding and curating online tools to assist with your genealogy research AND understanding the basis of citing sources as a tool to document your research.

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Building a Research Toolbox

For several years I’ve been advocating the following concept: every genealogist should create a consolidated research toolbox filled with various tools such as historical value of money calculators, links to historical newspaper sites, etc.

The reason? Efficiency and increased productivity. Think of how much time you spend looking for a link to a site you saved a week or a month ago? Wouldn’t you rather spend that time looking for ancestors? Or when you need to calculate something – like how much $1 in 1910 would be worth in today’s money, you spend time out on the Web searching for a site to do the calculation. Don’t forget that each time you wander out to the Internet, you are at risk of being attracted by those BSOs (“bright and shiny objects”) and time is wasted!

A genealogy research toolbox can take many forms: a blog, a website, an Excel spreadsheet or even a cleaned-up and organized list of bookmarks:

A genealogy research toolbox can take many forms: a blog, a website, an Excel spreadsheet or even a cleaned-up and organized list of bookmarks.

  • What I Plan to Do: Since I’ve already had a research toolbox for the past three years, I will be reviewing the links to make sure they all work and making updates where needed. I’ll also spend some time online look for new tools to add to my toolbox. Here is the current version of my Genealogy Research Toolbox:
  • “All-In” Participant Options: If you don’t already have a research toolbox, download and review the Building a Genealogy Research Toolbox handout here:
  • Modified Participant Options: Consider creating a research toolbox, especially if your current toolbox consists of tons of bookmarks or favorites that are not very well-organized.

 BONUS: Tools to Get You Started

I found these tools online when preparing for this week’s Newspaper Research Strategy Boot Camp. They are so useful that I can’t see doing without them . . . so why not have them ready to access in a toolbox?

Citing Sources

True confession: Like many beginning genealogists, I did not always cite my sources during research. I was a name collector. I’ve evolved as my research skills improved and as I took advantage of educational resources. For me, citing sources is not about impressing other researchers or meeting any standards established by others. I cite sources so I can go back and find the original information. Plain and simple. Source citations are the equivalent of a trail of breadcrumbs along my genealogy journey.

So, why do we use source citations?

There are many reasons why a genealogist might want to cite sources while researching ancestors.

  • Establish Proof. Cited material gives credibility to a fact or relationship while proving a connection.
  • Determine Reliability of Evidence. Some sources are more reliable and make a stronger proof. Compare points of evidence based on their source.
  • Track Records and Resources. Easily go back and locate records and their repository. This is effective when the original record or a copy is lost.
  • Expand Research. When encountering a difficult area of research, look for sources that were successful in making a proof and check them again for further information.
  • Discover Conflicts. Locate contradictions in existing research or when new evidence is found.
  • Understand the Research Process. When using another researcher’s work, sources can give a glimpse at how that research was developed.
  • Placeholders. Pick up a research project where you left off by looking at source citations.

How do I create a basic source citation?

A basic source citation has the following components:

Author, Title, Publisher, Locator

For the book Evidence Explained, here is a basic citation:

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Pub Co, 2007, p. 103.

  • Author: Format can be “First Name Last Name” or “Last Name, First Name.”
  • Title: Format can be Title (italics) or Title (underline). Also article titles may precede publication title.
  • Publisher: Format often includes publisher location, name and year published and sometimes appears in parentheses.
  • Locator: Usually a page number or range of page numbers depending upon the source type.

In addition, for online sources you may need:

  • Accessed: List date when source located as in “accessed on March 29, 2009” since online sites are known to disappear.
  • Examined: List search criteria as in “examined for any reference to ‘xyz’.”

Following the Basic Source Citation format above, you will want to add more “locator” information when using records such as census pages, death certificates, etc. and also specify the name of the person(s) listed in the record.

1850 U.S. Federal Census, Lewis County, New York, population schedule, Leyden, p. 84, dwelling 1254, family 1282, line 36, Clarinda PARSONS, digital images, Ancestry ( accessed 16 October 2011); from National Archives microfilm publication M432, roll 523, image 168.

How can I access the citation format templates?

While I have added the source citation templates to the Genealogy Research Log (on the Citation Formats tab), click here to access a list of common citation formats in a Microsoft Word document.

  • What I Plan to Do: I’ll be using the Citation Formats tab in my Genealogy Research Log to build source citations for the research I’ve done in the past two weeks. In addition, as I encounter new record sets, I’ll take time to create new templates which will increase my productivity in the long run.
  • “All-In” Participant Options: If you own a copy of Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (either hard copy or digital), read Chapters 1 and 2. Doing so will help you understand how source citations are constructed and why they are so important to genealogy research.
  • Modified Participant Options: If you have cited sources for your previous research, review the cites and check them for formatting and accuracy. If you don’t have a cheat sheet or template to help speed up the process, consider creating a way to use pre-set source citation templates.

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And that’s all I have for this week’s topic of the Genealogy Do-Over. Get ready for next week when we discuss evaluating the evidence that we’ve gathered for our proofs and we’ll look at various online genealogy education options.

Next Week: Week 6 – 5-11 February 2015

  • Evaluating Evidence
  • Reviewing Online Education Options

Thanks for being a part of the Genealogy Do-Over and your feedback is always appreciated. You can leave a comment on the blog post at GeneaBloggers, email me at or post at the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook Group.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Blogging Events – Week of 30 January – 6 February 2015

Get the latest news on genealogy blogging events for the week of 30 January - 6 February 2015, right here at GeneaBloggers.
Here is a list of events and goings-on in the world of genealogy blogging. Here’s what is happening in the coming week:

Daze of the Week!

Here are some upcoming dates to look out for so you can plan your genealogy and family history blog posts for next week:

  • 30 January: Beatles’ Last Concert – Anniversary, Bloody Sunday – Anniversary, Gandhi Assassinated – Anniversary, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Birthday – Anniversary.
  • 31 January: First Social Security Check Issued – Anniversary, Zane Grey’s Birthday – Anniversary, Garry Moore’s Birthday – 100th Anniversary, and Jackie Robinson’s Birthday – Anniversary.
  • 1 February: Data Backup Day, Clark Gable Birthday – Anniversary, First Car Insurance Issued – Anniversary, GI Joe Introduced – Anniversary, Greensboro Sit In – 55th Anniversary, Late Night with David Letterman premieres – Anniversary. National Black History Month begins, National Freedom Day – 150th Anniversary, Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster – Anniversary, and Super Bowl Sunday.
  • 2 February: Baseball Hall of Fame Charter Members Inducted – Anniversary, Candlemas, Groundhog Day, New Amsterdam (New York City) Incorporated – Anniversary, and Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Signed – Anniversary.
  • 3 February: Elizabeth Blackwell’s Birthday – Anniversary, Fifteenth Amendment Day, Income Tax – Anniversary, Snow Moon (Full Moon), and The Day The Music Died – 55th Anniversary.
  • 4 February: Facebook Launches – Anniversary, Betty Friedan’s Birthday – Anniversary, Rosa Park’s Birthday – Anniversary, USO Day, and World Cancer Day.
  • 5 February: Robert Peel’s Birthday – Anniversary, Weatherman’s Day, and World Nutella Day.
  • 6 February: Admission Day – Massachusetts, Aaron Burr’s Birthday – Anniversary, National Wear Red Day, Ronald Reagan Birthday, Waitangi Day (New Zealand), and Working Naked Day.

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Genealogy Blogging Beat – Friday, 30 January 2015

30 January 1882. 32nd president of the United States. The only president to serve more than two terms, FDR was elected four times. He supported the Allies in WWII before the US entered the struggle by supplying them with war materials through the Lend-Lease Act; he became deeply involved in broad decision making after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941. Born at Hyde Park, NY, he died a few months into his fourth term at Warm Springs, GA, 12 April 1945.
Today is Friday, 30 January 2015, and here is what’s available in terms of events in the genealogy blogosphere:

Items of Note

  • Today: Beatles’ Last Concert – Anniversary, Bloody Sunday – Anniversary, Gandhi Assassinated – Anniversary, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Birthday – Anniversary.

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