Monday, January 27, 2020
Day 27: Organize Your Source Templates
One of the best parts of my day job as an academic librarian is that I get to help my library's interlibrary loan (ILL) staff as they try to fulfill requests from my university's faculty and graduate students for information that my library doesn't have but that other libraries might have. No library can own every book, journal, magazine, or newspaper, so we make up for it by giving speedy service to figure out what other library holds what we lack.
I enjoy this work because faculty and graduate students are not always very good in providing a complete citation. They might give an article name but no author, or an author's name but not the year of publication, or the journal title but not the volume and issue numbers. Something is often missing.
Now put yourself in the position of looking at your own genealogical research, especially research that you might have done 5, 10, or 20 years earlier. Have you been good about adequately citing your sources, so that you can determine immediately what source(s) you used to determine that date and location of birth, marriage, or death? Or did you omit that information or only provide part of it, but still not quite enough to figure out exactly what it was that you used?
This is where good source templates come in. Genealogists use hundreds of different kinds of sources in many different formats. If you already have source templates set up either in your genealogy database software or in your note-taking software, then you can just fill in the blanks and voila, you've got your source cited sufficiently well so that others can evaluate your conclusions and you can go back to the source when needed.
If your genealogy software already doesn't provide these templates, or if you don't happen to like the ones provided, then set up your own. Use a note in Evernote for each type of source document, and put all of them into an Evernote notebook called "Genealogy source templates", labeling each piece that is needed to fully describe a document of that type. Then when you are ready to use the template, copy the template into a new note and fill it out, and then copy the completed citation into your genealogy database software.
You can tag each template with the event type (birth, marriage, death, military, etc.), with the format (print, microform, online) and with other kinds of information (book, magazine, newspaper, etc.) so that you can quickly find the specific template you need.