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Setting Your Cites
11/1/2007
Stymied by source documentation? Heed these hints for entering citations in your genealogy software.

You probably began your family history research by scouring old family papers and interviewing relatives. Soon, you'd also checked censuses, birth records and passenger lists, and exchanged information with several other researchers. Then one day, you found a census record saying your great-grandmother was born in Indiana, but you'd recorded that she was born in Ohio. Did your original information come from a reliable source, such as her birth certificate, or was it just a vague family tradition? Carefully recording where you find each fact will help you weigh conflicting information, compile an accurate family history and avoid duplicating efforts.

Luckily, genealogy software makes it easy to record your sources. The specific steps vary depending on your program, but most let you create a “master source” that includes a tide, author and publication information, as well as the source's location — whether it's a library, courthouse or your personal files — and a specific call number or Web site address. If you find references to several family members in the same source, such as a will or census record, you simply reuse the master source. If necessary, you can change the specific volume or page number cited in each person's record.

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