|Citations—A Guide to Creating Proper Source Citations||| Print ||
How to Cite St. Louis and Missouri Sources
Finding the correct source for information about your ancestor can require time-consuming research. Once you’ve found a record, book, person, Web page, artifact, or any source, make sure you document where you found it. You may need to return to that same record at some point and finding it a second time may be just as difficult as it was the first time. It can be frustrating to determine exactly what information needs to be included for a specific citation and what order the elements of the citation should follow. The society created this Web page to assist with citing St. Louis and Missouri sources. If you don’t have St. Louis ancestors, these citations can serve as a model for any community. Just substitute your particular location utilizing the same format.
One of the biggest mistakes made by beginning genealogists is not thoroughly documenting where they find every piece of information. Most genealogists will admit they have a piece of information, found early in their research, for which they have no documentation. Don’t make this same mistake yourself. Take some time to read and become familiar with Evidence Explained; Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace or Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian both by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
Citing an online database like Ancestry.com, familysearch.org, or Fold3.com with just the title of the Web page is not a sufficient source citation. Online genealogy sites usually have multiple databases; therefore the specific database title, date accessed, URL, and specific data found are all part of the citation. Several QuickSheets, based on Evidence Explained are available to assist with these source citations. These include Quick Sheet: Citing Ancestory.com Databases & Images, Quick Sheet: Citing Online Historical Resources and Quick Sheet: Citing Online African-American Historical Resources.
As you read Web pages, check for citation guides on each site to help you understand all of the details of a source. For example, both the National Archives and Missouri State Archives have citation guides available online. The National Archives guide is "Citing Records in the National Archives of the United States: General Information Leaflet, Number 17,” and the Missouri State Archives guide is “Research Room: Citing Records at the Missouri State Archives.”
At a minimum, for each piece of information in your research, you should document:
The best source is an original source, one created at the time an event occurred. A source is either original or derivative. The information a source provides is either primary or secondary information. The information needs to be analyzed as direct or indirect evidence to determine if it provides proof of the event. A birth certificate is an original source of information for the birth. An amended or delayed birth certificate is not an original source, but the information may be primary depending on who gave the information. The researcher must evaluate a source to determine who gave the information and the time frame in which it was given.
A death certificate is an original source for the death of that person. The birth information on a death certificate is secondary or tertiary information, depending on who gave the information. An index can be a source and direct you to a volume and/or page in a source, but the index should not be the only source you utilize. You should always consult the original record for the best source of information.
A copy of this document and the templates listed below is available in pdf form. It is 45 pages in print length and must be printed in landscape mode. Click here to download the document.
1 Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007), 276.
2 Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997), 74.
3 Missouri Secretary of State, “Research Room; Citing Records at the Missouri State Archives,” Missouri State Archives (http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/resources/citations.asp : accessed 20 January 2012).
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