Friday, August 31, 2012

On The Job Training

As I often say here, I'm a relative newbie to this genealogy thing. Mom get me started and has filled me in on a lot of methods as well as tips and tricks. I've been very lucky to be handed a gigantic tree and lots of research. And I've learned from work that wasted her time or things she wishes she'd done differently. But I'm such a beginner! Bottom line: I have so very much to learn. And I learn as I go so it's on the job training.

I've been a tad dismissive of the seeming obsession with citing sources and the form that takes. Truth told, rolled on the floor laughing at one of Randy Seaver's post to his excellent and enlightening blog Genea-Musings at that dealt with a particular citation, perhaps a census as I try to remember. In his post he gave a couple of different versions according to various accepted forms. I had a fit of laughter because, A) I could hardly see the difference because I'm so untrained, and B) I was at that moment lucky to remember where I got a particular document let alone how to properly cite a source according to such high genealogy standards.

I have an academic background and am not totally ignorant about the need to cite sources or proper form. I have a working understanding of the Chicago Style Manual. But I have to say that my initial impression of citing sources and the seeming obsession about it in the hard-core genealogy community (read: professionals) was one of amusement. I'm changing my tune.

OK, sure I'll never have Randy's dedication or mastery of source citation, - or probably anything else - but I get it as to why it's important and why one needs to be consistent about how one does it. How did this shift in attitude come about? A little book, just a hundred twenty-something pages long called, "Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian," by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Her big book shares the socks off me! At least right now;)

Every day I read and think about the next item she presents. The organization of the book is efficient enough such that I can wade into it and be "safe" without getting bogged down or overwhelmed. One concept at a time starting with the most basic so as to lay a proper foundation and build upon it. And I stick with each concept until I'm comfortable with that. It's a slow process but for me it makes sense:)

Photo of the day from The Archive:

Charles William Zeller,
1829 - 1901
Born in Germany and died in Chicago.
Date of photo unknown.

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