Citing Your Sources and The Bibliography


This is an area of research that all too sadly is most often overlooked. It is also an area that most of us don't purposely ignore; we just always "mean" to go back and find our sources "sometime".

However, when you are writing a volume of text, this issue can no longer be put to the sidelines, it must be dealt with at that time. Depending on the amount of data you have accumulated and the wide variety of other researchers you have encountered over the years; your biblography pages can be short and simple or long, but not necessarily complex. This is what I hope to cover with this installment; how to make your bibliography comprehensive but not complex and overwhelming.

I personally feel that citing your sources is somewhat like staying on a diet. If it becomes too overwhelming in makeup, it logically becomes much easier to disregard it. To disregard your sources is to insult the persons that you have traded data with throughout the years as it doesn't give them the appropriate credit that they deserve for any info they have shared with you.

Bibliographies also serve a purpose for the future researcher, it gives them a starting point and also points them in a direction that has already been explored and perhaps they need not go over it again.

Citing Sources from my perspective can be done in two different ways. I will list these along with any pros or cons that I have found.

Footnotes: This is one of the most commonly used formats for citing sources. However, I personally find it disruptive to the reading pattern.

Source Index: This is becoming a commonly accepted method to use. This again can become complex in some instances.

I like to combine my source index with the Bibliography, because actually any books used are also a "source" of information so really you are dealing with the same thing.

You can again break this down into a couple of different ways of doing it. You can:

Take the volume as a whole and simply alphabetize your sources and materials


Separate your source listings by chapters; thereby giving a more exactness to just what those sources are in reference to. You will want to include in this any bible pages, record sources, other researchers, obituaries complete with newspaper's name and the date, just anything that you are gaining your data from. Don't forget to cite your own records in this listing. Always remember to list the page number from any book that you are citing also. Although much is stated about the completeness of source citing, I would not advise to include any person's email address or mailing address in a mass publication book. A short notice at the beginning can invite other researchers to further contact you for that information. You might also include a source page of other researchers tracing any given family name, again this is the only information that I would make public.

It is not always necessary to itemize your sources to death either. Let's look at a sampling entry:

McCullough Family Name

Genealogical Files of Susan Weathers

McCullough Collection of Betty Fries

Revolutionary Pension Files of John McCullough

Owen County Indiana Census Records--1830, 1840, 1850, 1860

(note: notice that I am NOT listing these census years separately, this cuts down on the amount of space the source citing takes but still includes those sources)

Death Records of Putnam County Indiana 1882-1920

Marriage Records of Pulaski County Kentucky 1780-1820

You see, it doesn't need to be complex or time consuming. This can be repeated for each different family chapter that you have. Pertaining to the photographs, you can either choose to include those in this section or have a separate listing for them entitled "Photography Credits".

With this section, as before either do the volume as a whole or separate into families.

Photo Collection of Mrs. Peggy Smith

Photo Collection of Mr. Bernard Scott

It is indeed important to cite the sources, but you can make every effort to make it more concise but still contain the same information. I realize that I may not have included every form of source material in this entry, however, I trust you to come up with just every source you can. When dealing with Wills or Deeds, make certain to also make note of just where you obtained that item from.