Saturday, November 5, 2011

Do Source Citations and Recorded Sources Carry Equal Weight in Your Research?

Recently, at *LinkedIn,, where many genealogists pose questions for others to question, assist others, or weigh in with their opinions, the following topic was posed for discussion: "Looking for opinions about source citation and recording sources? Would like to hear your opinion."
The source where my comment was originally written was created by Brandy Sacco. Brandy's associated blog is Family-Genealogy,, and her company is I am not advertising or endorsing her blog or her company, although anyone is free to look at Brandy’s blog and company.
I weighed in on the topic as I had a personal experience to share about a videotaping of my aunt in her assisted living residence after she began to develop mild symptoms of dementia.
This is what I shared:
"One example about recording my aunt's memories of her immediate family while growing up is that my daughter and I videotaped her after she moved out of her home and into a retirement facility. We could tell that dementia had begun, due to receptiveness in her speaking and being able to compare her thoughts and speaking to her younger sister's dementia, my mother, who had begun dementia and Alzheimer's at an earlier age.
We engaged her in conversation and asked certain questions that we wanted to hear her answers about gaps where we did not have documentation about our ancestors. I appreciated my aunt's conversation, friendliness, and that we were able to put her at ease during the videotaping.
After the videotaping I was able to piece details together better about what she told us and where we were lacking documentation.
Documents are a better record of a person's life. Family conversations are valuable to use where documentation has not been possible to give a familial flavor to the recordee's perspective of events from their early life. In my family's tendency to begin dementia at some point in their later years, I have found that while the more recent memory is reduced or nonexistent, earlier memories in life are easier for my older relatives to retain and share.
I have not been able to prove the that my mother believed that some of her ancestors fought at the Texas Battle of San Jacinto with Sam Houston,. Yes, there were some soldiers there with the same last surname as my mother's maiden name, but I have found no relative connection.
It makes an interesting story, but since the Texas Battle of San Jacinto with Sam Houston is well documented with each soldier's name, rank, unit, where he enlisted, and position on the battlefield, I feel confident that someone started that story in the family and it continued down to my mother's generation. This is a story I must ignore when writing the best, true history of my family.”
Another good story, surely fiction, is the one that was related to me by a second cousin that my northern Floridian grandmother's father taught my grandmother and her older sister how to ride on the backs of alligators. The story was told at family reunions by my grandfather. It obviously sounded great, and knowing my grandfather, he received great joy and glee from telling it, as he looked at the surprised looks of other relatives with whom he shared this story. Talk about exaggeration! In any event, this story also did not become a fact in my family history.
I follow as closely as possible the good standards set by leading genealogists, genealogy subscription programs and software, especially those of Elizabeth Shown Mills in her book editions of "Evidence Explained:..." and "Evidence:...".
"As an aside, I subscribe to a commercial online genealogy program, but keep it private, and not public, as many do, so I can diminish the possibility of someone plagiarizing my information. I also use a paid genealogy software program."
I hope that other family members and geneabloggers will read this post and add your comments about your opinions about Source Citations and Recorded Sources. It will help to read your opinions and carry this conversation forward.

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