Acknowledge your sources!

researchToday I received a note from a very important genealogy friend. She asked me if I hadn’t perhaps confused two family members who had similar names thereby giving erroneous credit to the ‘wrong’ person rather than the ‘right’ one. A very important question.

It is absolutely essential to provide good and clear attribution to those from whom we source our data. It is important to be as correct as possible in any quotations, images, bibliographies and links. Accuracy requires proofing by your readership (proof-readers, if you are lucky enough to have them) and modification by the family genealogist to reflect appropriate corrections, etc.

It is also, unfortunately, impossible to be always accurate.

So what can be done, well there are a few options open to you:

  • Be receptive to corrections. Any person generous enough to report a potential problem needs to be treated with care. They are a very valuable resource.
  • Make it easy for people to get in touch with you. I can’t tell you how many sites I have found for which there are no contact links, email or otherwise. This certainly makes it hard to ask questions, get permission or provide corrections.
  • Protect but be generous with your information. Share as much as you can, all the while trying to find out who needs and/or wants your data. Knowing this may provide you with future sources of data as well as some new genealogy ‘friends’.

Remember, genealogy and family history is about gathering as much truth and factual data as you can. Acknowledging sources provides credibility and weight to your research not to mention ‘it being the right thing to do!’