I’m spending the day learning how to use Evidentia and to create group sheets for my family and my parents’ family – which for some reason, I’ve never done.

My goal is to be 100% sourced for every piece of information in the group sheet. Every time I’ve EVER worked on sources for a group sheet, I’ve always had the same questions. And I think the perfectionist in me keeps me from sharing any of my information because I don’t want to be told that I’m doing something wrong.

These questions are not about formatting of citations, although I have plenty of questions on that! But because I don’t plan to ever put my information in any formal publication, I feel like if I select the wrong citation format (for example “Local Vital Records: Certificate” vs. “State Vital Records: Certificate” vs. “State-Level Records: Vital-Records Certificate”), any interested person could still find the document I’m referring to. (But I will admit to spending WAAAAYYYYY too much time trying to decide which format to use – and it drives me crazy because I’d SO much rather be searching for new records!)

So I will now list my questions here to see if anyone wants to chime in and tell me the “correct” way to cite my sources. I feel like these questions are going to be “duh” questions for a lot of you, but I also figure that if I have these questions, I’m probably not alone.

  1. When I look at a record – say, my birth certificate – it contains information for several pieces of information in my group sheet. Father, Mother, birthplace for each of them, my date of birth, my birth location, my middle name. So my question is, should I add seven identical endnotes for each of those facts? 1 “long form” full citation followed by 6 “short form” subsequent citations?
  2. Again, for birth records….I have 3 versions of my own birth certificate. All three of them give the same information that I listed in question 1. So do I cite all three of these documents for each piece of information?
  3. If I’m not to cite every record that I have, how do I decide which is best? The commemorative certificate that the hospital gave my parents has a lot more information than the “legal” certificates I have. Typically, I’d think that a legal certificate holds more authority, but the commemorative certificate was created while the hospital was collecting the information from my parents…information that was then passed on to the board of health for the legal certificate. The information is more specific and includes information not included on the legal certificate.
  4. Do I give a citation for middle names based on my birth certificate? My own, my father, and my mother? Middle names are often included on census records of my ancestors. Do I site those sources as well?
  5. Do I give citations for the name itself to indicate how I know that a person is a legitimate child of the parents on the group sheet?
  6. For ancestors from long ago, do I cite every source that gives a birth location? Birth record, marriage record, death record, every census record, land records, etc?
  7. Do I cite every source that gives the name of a spouse? Marriage record, census records, land records, death records, etc?
  8. If I want to include an analysis for why a specific piece of information was chosen to be included in the group sheet, is that indicated in some way on the group sheet? I am learning how to create these analysis reports in Evidentia and it seems they would be most helpful to include with a group sheet.

The bottom line is this: I want to be thorough, but I don’t want a group sheet that has such a long line of superscripts after each piece of information that it looks like a joke. The examples in my questions are probably extreme examples, but I just don’t know where to draw the line. I think that in my heart, I feel there should probably just be 1 citation for each piece of information with some type of notation that other sources were taken into consideration. If that’s the case – what is the format for that? Does every citation end with “see the attached analysis for additional considerations”?

There is an endless supply of web sites and books that will tell you how to create source citations. Is there a web site that might show examples of a well cited group sheet? I really only want to do this “do-over” once. For that to be the case, I want to do it right and I’m clearly frustrated!