What is Genealogy
Tid Bits
Tips and Gotcha's
Top ten myths
Top ten reasons to do it
Just for Fun
Getting Started
An exercise using a pedigree
Paperwork organization
Preserving your records
Labeling your records
Maps and geography
Old style dates
Old style handwriting
Tombstone reading
Calculating relationships
Family reunions
PC Software
Genealogical Programs
Genealogical Numbering Systems
Family Group Sheet form
GEDCOM format
Descendancy report
Ahnentafel report
Recap and Statistics
The data pyramid
Source Documents
Record types
Vital and primary records
Manuscript archives
Censuses and the soundex
Actual examples
Where to Look
Where to do your research
Kansas City area research
U.S. GenWeb
Recent immigrants
Ellis Island
African American
Native American
Hispanic American
Recommended web sites
Certified professionals
Genealogical publishers/sellers
Recommended books
Publishing your family history
Forms to use
Dewey Decimal system
Homework assignment


If you only LEARN JUST ONE THING from all of these pages, let it be this topic. You, and all other researchers who ever look at your materials, will thank you. The reasons:

  • One of the most important parts of any genealogy written for others to see is a complete citation of the source for every piece of genealogical information (aka. source document extraction)
  • A full citation should allow anyone to go easily to the exact place where the author found the information
  • A full citation should include the title and edition number, author, publisher, place and year published, volume and page number, and, any other pertinent information
  • Most genealogical books either leave these out altogether or show very few of them, often not complete. Genealogical data CDís and web sites with family information rarely give any clue as to where the data came from.

Examples of complete citations:

  • Birth certificate for John Q. Smith, May 13, 1903, Cambria County Pennsylvania court house, Altoona, vol. II, page 47, number 18
  • Doe, Jane, The Harris Family History, (1965, Cleveland, ABC Publishers), page 14
  • 1860 U.S. Census, Jackson county, Missouri, Kaw township, p. 187, line 22, National Archives Microfilm M-019, roll 51
  • 1826 tax list (real and personal property), Baldwin county, Georgia, 4th District, page 2, line 4, Microfilm collection, Georgia Department of Archives and History, Atlanta
  • Family Bible Record of Paul Clark of Charleston, West Virginia, The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, Revised, (1852, New York, D.B. Crown), owner in 1972 was Betty Richardson, 112 S. Main Street, Topeka, KS 66511. Original record was handwritten, probably by Martha, the wife of Paul Clark. All writing is clear and legible.
  • Union Service record for Captain Joshua C. Fillmont, muster roll, July 1863, Co. B 32nd regiment, Ohio Volunteers, Service in the Army of the United States of America, box 22, Ohio State Archives, Columbus
  • Deed of sale from Jacob Miller to Henry Bowden, January 26, 1771 (recorded February 2, 1771), Montgomery county North Carolina. Deed book 15, pp. 10-11, North Carolina State Library, County Core Collection Microfilm No. 84-21.
  • Headstone inscription for George North, Antioch Cemetery, Warren county, Wisconsin (Sampson Lot, row 14, plot 41), visited by author June 18, 1988.
  • Oral interview with Margaret Rolands, October 15, 1993, by Oliver Phillips, recording owned by author, Pierre, South Dakota. Margaret was living in Omaha, Nebraska at the time of the interview and was 84 years old.
  • Obituary of Douglas P. Earhart, Clarion Ledger (LeMars, Plymouth county, Iowa), November 12, 1914, page 4, column 3, Iowa Archives and Natural History, microfilm number 16, Des Moines, Iowa.

See the book Cite Your Sources by Richard S. Lackey (1980, Jackson, MS, University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, MS, $15) for more specifics on how to write correct citations.

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Copyright © 2004- by Larry Wilson, all rights reserved