Discovery Your Family History

Citation Is Your Friend In Family History

 When you have finished your LDS family search, it is important to cite all of the sources used in your genealogical research. Without good reference citations, your family tree or genealogy documentation is practically worthless. For genealogists who love to find out about their family history, this kind of research can cause a range of different emotions. However, each treasure you find must be cited properly to become a valid part of your family tree. No matter whether your search results include details from birth certificates, grave markers, census records or anything else that you are researching you will need well documented citations for everything. As with diamonds and other Gem stones, the reference citations of your genealogical findings make these items more valuable to your family history. If you use documentation for your genealogy without citing your sources, your family members can’t prove that this data is accurate.

 The Three C’s Of Citation

 There are three very important reasons for citing the sources from which you found your information for your LDS family search, also known as the three C’s: confirmation, comparison, and confidence. These reasons are important, so that if others want to use your data for their own research, they can validate the sources of your documentation.


 A source citation confirms the family history as does the document. The citation is there so that the viewer can check out the source and review the data for themselves. The standard research guidelines for putting together a family tree require that you cite your sources to validate any information you find. As Diamonds are graded for acceptance by jewellers, Genealogical research must be graded as well. Your source citations are the means to grade your documentation. If you do some online research and someone else’s family tree reveals information with similar historical dates as yours, having the cited sources allows you to go to that source, and possibly find information for the next branch of your genealogy, and even more information for the current document you are working on. If the document you have found is not cited, then you are at a dead end and you won’t be able to find more information for current or future branches of your family history.


 It is important to compare the documents with new ones you come across in your LDS family search. For instance if you find a document that conflicts with information that you already have, gives you more information, you don’t have your sources cited or the sources aren’t cited in the document that you’re comparing your information to then you won’t be able to tell which information is accurate. With the proper citations, documents that are similar to one another can be compared for accuracy, similar to the way a gem stone collector compares diamonds.

 Although documentation is far from perfect, your family tree is incomplete if you don’t cite your sources. You may choose to use the APA format for source citation; however, genealogical source citation is required to be more detailed. For more information about citing sources such as grave sites, quilts, photos etc., look for books written on genealogical documentation, by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Once you have properly cited the sources of your documentation, compared it with other cited documents, and found some new items by revisiting the cited sources of other documents yourself, you will be proud to show off your family tree.


 Only after confirming and comparing documentation that has been cited properly, will you have the confidence to show your research findings to other family members. Other Genealogists will be able to check the sources of your family tree, and possibly find information through these sources for their own research purposes.

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