Footnotes! Footnotes! Footnotes! Part 2

How do you manage footnotes while you are writing so their inclusion does not halt the flow of your writing?

footnotesI struggled with this while I wrote my Kinship Determination Project (KDP) and Case Study for my portfolio for certification for the Board for Certification of Genealogists. [1]

In the end, I employed two basic techniques.

First, I internalize information as I do my research and take copious notes. Before I started writing, however, I also reread several key documents I had deemed critical to the research question. Then, I started writing. I do not consider myself a great writer, but once I “get going,” I do not like to stop. Here is what I do to accommodate my “with the flow” approach to citation inclusion.

I write three, four or even ten paragraphs before I pause. At those pauses, I go back to what I have written, do some rough editing and insert a “dummy citation.” Yes, it could be a real footnote if I have all the information handy, but instead of pulling out the document and figuring out how to cite the evidence, I insert number for the footnote and insert a code for the source, for example, DR HJB. This would tell me I needed to cite the death record of Henry J. Bode at that location. There may be many of these “dummy citations.”

I enter a footnote everywhere I think a footnote is needed. For every dummy citation I put where I think/know the information is found.  I rarely leave one blank.

Then I  continue writing.

At a (later) time of “citation inspiration,” I return to what I have written and start entering “real” citations. I dig out the source, confirm that it actually supports the statement, check Evidence Explained to see if there is any construction guidance and then build the citation. [2] If the content does not support the statement I am making, I have two choices: I can rewrite the paragraph so it is supportable or I go looking for a source that supports the statement.

This process allows me to keep up with the flow of writing, but also reminds me of a need for a citation. How do you handle the flow and the citation timing?

You might find it interesting to read my first blog on this topic, Footnotes! Footnotes! Footnotes!

Happy hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post: worked on my Timelines presentation for the Olympia GS to be given in March. I have a “never-evers” presentation I need to put together for February. I am excited about some great speaking opportunities that are coming my way for 2017.  I listened to some webinars on Legacy. I thought Gena Philibert-Ortega’s on “Social History” was particularly good.

[1] http://www.bcgcertification.org/certification/index.html

[2] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, third edition (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2015).

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Footnotes! Footnotes! Footnotes!

Do you manage your footnotes or do they manage you?

When writing my Kinship Determination Project (KDP) for my portfolio, I had trouble keeping  the footnotes “complete and accurate.”[1] They should add “consistent’ to this rubric.

I thought I had a plan. I didn’t; or the one I had didn’t work so well; or maybe it worked as well as could be expected.

Nevertheless, I thought I would outline my process. Hopefully, you can find some ideas you can use or perhaps learn from my mistakes.

I would also be interested in how you manage your footnotes when writing  a footnote intensive paper. I would like to improve this process.

Note: I don’t use RefNote or any specialized software. I used Word.

I did OK for most of the KDP in keeping my footnotes consistent.   I attained what consistency I did have by keeping a record in Word of every type of footnote and using the style as a template for future footnotes of the same type.  The footnotes were arranged by record type in the Word document–all the death footnote types were together, all the electronic ones were together, etc.

But, I learned as I wrote and some things shifted in the footnote creating inconsistencies.

Every footnote was entered as a full footnote. I did not make it a shortform, even if I knew there was a similar reference before it, until I was completely done with the paper. If I knew (or thought) that a footnote was previously used, I put the letters SF, for “short form,” at the beginning of the footnote.  If the footnote was a candidate for Ibid., I put that at the beginning as well. But I  did not convert it to a SF or an Ibid. until the very end of the writing process. Reason? I was moving around paragraphs of information right up until the end.  At one point I removed about 1000 words from my KDP. I knew I had to be careful. It also didn’t matter if I made a mistake because I knew I had to check every one.

By the time I got to the end of writing the document, inconsistencies in my formatting of even the typical footnote templates, had slipped in. I had also knew that there were consistencies, even if accurate.

So, I re-reviewed every footnote at the end of writing the paper. (Which I think you would have to do anyway.) Here is how I reviewed all my footnotes:

I first made sure that all footnotes were the same font type, size and black in color.

Starting with footnote number 1 and going in order:

  1. I made all my footnotes into endnotes and copied them into a single Word document (I called this document the “Endnotes”). Then I changed the document with endnotes back into one with footnotes.
  2. Working back and forth between the document and the Endnotes, I checked to make sure that footnote #1 was accurately reflecting the content of the cited work, complete and in a format that was most consistent with the narrative.
  3. I re-checked each one against Evidence Explained [2] so I knew where I deviated and why.
  4. I used the Find feature to see if I had any duplicates of that footnote. Since even the most typical footnote had a unique identifier, this was not hard. (Obviously, the first footnotes were unique, so this happened later in the writing.)
  5. On the Endnotes, I changed the color of that particular footnote to green, when I was completed with checking for correctness, accuracy, consistency.
  6. Repeat, until you find a source that has already been cited. Create the shortform. Copy the shortform and paste into the Endnotes, under the first full citation.
  7. As you go, adjust the footnotes to include Ibid., if appropriate.
  8. When you are done, all Endnotes will be green; all shortforms and Ibid.s will be entered and you will have checked all against other similar footnotes for consistency. And you will have checked each type against Evidence Explained.
  9. Pat yourself of the back and repeat for the Case Study! [3]

I hope it doesn’t sound confusing. It went quite smoothly and quicker than I thought.  I am visual so the color coding was essential. The Find feature was a godsend. If I discovered an inconsistency, I could identify all of the affected footnotes and change them one-by-one.

That describe how I handled them when the document was finished.  Next we will look at how I did ciations during the writing process so they didn’t put a full stop on the flow of the writing.

Happy hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting: I know it has been some time since I posted but I have traveled to the Eastern time zone 3 times in about 10 days.  Plus made presentations in about 10 venues. I also am Seattle Genealogical Society’s president.  It’s been an active fall, but is now winding down as we get ready for our daughter’s wedding in Boston.  Looking forward to it and to a little relaxation afterwards.

[1] “Rubrics for Evaluating New Applications for BCG Certification, revised 18 January 2016,” Board for Certification of Genealogists (http://www.bcgcertification.org/brochures/BCGNewAppRubrics2016.pdf : accessed 9 November 2016).
[2] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained, Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, third edition (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2015).
[3] I wanted to make this a 12-step program, but I just couldn’t come up with two more steps to my process! 🙂

 

 

Case Study Tips & More

2016 AZ mtnsAs some of you know, I have been taking a six week driving “sabbatical” since my retirement on 6 January 2016.  This has been a great few weeks so far and I expect it to be even better.

My goals for the trip have been:

  • get to the warm (see pic on left)
  • do some research in Salt Lake City
  • write a bunch of my portfolio (Case Study & Kinship Determination Project or KDP)
  • visit some friends along the way

 

Get to the warm:

I have definitely accomplished that (see above!).  I will spend about 3+ weeks in Arizona and southern California in full sunshine and 80 degree temps!  Woo hoo!

Research in SLC:

I spent four days there doing research. Of course, as soon as I left I noticed that I had missed checking out a database that is only available at the library, so I hired my friend, Barry Kline, who I knew was still there to check it for me.  Great job, Barry.  Just what I needed.

2016 AZ study stationWrite a bunch of my portfolio:

I wanted to come out of my week in Colorado (post-SLC) with my Case Study in very good shape.  Well, it took longer than that but I really like what it looks like.  A little more work but it is shaping up nicely.

I want to complete my AZ segment of the trip with a very good start on my KDP (see study station at left).  Right now–it is really ugly, but it is getting incrementally better every day (sometimes the increments are very small, however.).  I am finding some items I need to access, and so, I will be ordering some tapes so I can review them when I get back to Seattle.  It is also possible that I will have to re-up my “on-the clock”. As you can tell from the countdown clock on the sidebar, I only have two full months left. I have some information in Iowa that I need to get but I won’t be there until August, when I do another 7 week driving trip.

Visit friends & relatives

I have had the joy of being in Colorado with my husband’s two brothers and one of  the sister-in-laws. I am in AZ staying with a friend and will head out the end of this month to San Diego to meet up with my brother and his wife for a few days.  Then, it is on to Fresno to visit with another friend, BUT I have to be back in Seattle on the 8th so I can fly to Chicago on the 9th for the weekend.

Whew!! This retirement thing is exhausting.

2016 AZ postitsI promised some tips for the Case Study.  Here is what I discovered:

  1. Jot down 5 or 6 possible case studies.  Remember every immigrant is a problem of identity here and there; every person with multiple birth dates for the same person is conflicting direct evidence.
  2. Pick a problem you already have “solved.”  Do not pick one you haven’t solved.
  3. Once you pick your problem, write up your research question.  I had a hard time with this (I know it shouldn’t be, but my preconceptions kept getting in the way.)
  4. Determine what kind of a conflict it is and then read NGSQ articles for ones that are similar. While you are reading, look for a format or structure that fits your problem–you do not need to reinvent the wheel. There are good examples out there.
  5. Start writing; the sooner the better.
  6. While you are writing (at least this was true for me) there will be “little discoveries” along the way that needed to be researched. At first I was disappointed that I hadn’t noticed them before but then I viewed them as little challenges within the bigger one of the Case Study.

In the end, I got more than I bargained for–which was a very pleasant gift.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post:  a lot.

NGS conference is right around the corner!

On Monday I am off to the NGS (National Genealogical Society) 2015 conference in St. Charles, Missouri.  I am excited about it for three great reasons:

  • I will have dinner with my college friend, Anne, and her husband who I haven’t seen for a couple of decades and I have never met him.
  • I will room with my good friend Karen from Chicago.  We are both “on the clock” and so we can commiserate together (Is the root word of commiserate “misery?”)
  • but, best of all, I will be attending a terrific conference.

I was planning to share some great tech tools with you to make your conference experience more enjoyable, but then I was usurped by Beth Ziesenis, writer of the blog, “My Nerdy Best Friend,” when she posted “The Best Tools for an Upcoming Event!” I decided instead build on what she suggested and give you my impressions of some of her recommendations.

1. Tripit!  I downloaded Tripit a year ago but I do not use it.  However, for a certain type of person–like my daughter Anne– this might be an invaluable tool.  It allows you to enter all your data about a particular trip in a single location–your flight information, receipts, hotel, speaking engagement times, etc. etc.  It is the virtual equivalent of my envelopes–each trip has an envelope and I have all information for each of my trips, whether for business 1 (School of Medicine) or business 2 (genealogy).  (see photo left–once I get to wifi where my emails come through!)

2. Yelp.  I am using Yelp more and more.  Just used it the other day to check out a venue for a banquet for a conference we are planning at the UW.  Use this app to find all the restaurants in the area that may be a bit off the beaten track so you won’t run into 150 other genealogists standing in line at the most obvious restaurants!

3. Zoom.  I want to check this out but haven’t.  Beth (My Nerdy Best Friend) says it is a great site for videoconferencing back to the office or with friends. on your digital devices

4.  LastPass.  Too many passwords?  If you don’t use this app/site you should!  This keeps all your passwords together and secure.  I love this site.  You have one password to access Lastpass and then you can see all your others that you have.  This is a terrific site.

5. NGS App.  Again, if you don’t use this you should!  The big advantage?  It is constantly updated!  I there is a problem or a change in the room, the app will be the first to get the new information.

“My Nerdy Best Friend” had a few other apps/programs that are useful for event goers (Evernote, for one).  You might want to check them out as well.

See you in 4 days!  I will be in the German all day class on Tuesday.  Looking forward to that class.  Maybe I can get a step closer to solving my Frederick Eilers issue–they guy who levitated into my great grandmother’s life, married her and then levitated out.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting:  I published and prepared for mailing the SGS newsletter (my last as Publications Director), worked on my BCG Case Study, wrote all the response letters to the submitters of the SGS Family History Writing Contest (also designed and issued the certificates), got ready for the British Columbia Genealogical Society Spring Seminar–4 presentations on 9 May.

BCG Case Study: Movement!

Clock mathAbout five days ago, I started working on my Case Study and I have been steadily working at it since!  Finally, some real progress for.  I wonder if it was because I requested and received an extension of time to my portfolio?  Being “on the clock,” I certainly know that I don’t want to ask for another extension a year from now.1  If that was the motivation–I’ll take it.

I have always liked my BCG Case Study focus.  I am finding it a challenge to get it organized in a way that is very clear and very convincing to the reader. To refresh my memory about writing these proof arguments, I reviewed Tom Jones’s book, Mastering Genealogical Proof.  This became a very good thing to do.  I have taken the Mastering Genealogical Proof class under the tutelage of Karen Stanbury, so I am familiar with the book and have done the exercises.  I learned a lot but this time different topics resonated.

  • Writing a good research question is not as easy as it sounds–at least for me!  I find myself redrafting the question as I write.  Probably not a good attribute. This chapter added some clarity to my writing. (Chapter 2)
  • My comfort with source citations (Chapter 4) has increased but not due to this chapter.  I have gained a new perspective on source citations because of the lectures Dr. Jones gave at the Professional Management Conference in 2015 in Salt Lake City. I need to review those notes and his syllabus again from that conference.  I do “get” the idea that Evidence Explained by ESM is a “style manual” and not a “rule book,” a concept some have difficulty with.
  • I need to spend some time in analyzing my sources–but not too much as I have all original documents.  ( Chapter 5) Also reading some Q articles might help me better understand the amount of analysis of my sources I need to incorporate into my writing.
  • I love tables!  There is not a table I have ever met that I didn’t like!  But, I think I have an overabundance of tables.  🙂 I need to consider what is the best approach for presenting the information  in the best way not resorting to what method I like best, i.e. a table. I suspect I will lose some of the tables and use some of the other tools instead. (Chapter 5)
  • How does one best “close the deal?”  Some proof arguments I read have weak written conclusions–I need to read Q articles by strong writers (Henderson, Bittner, etc.) to analyze what makes a strong proof argument conclusion.  Chapter 6 does a good job answering some of my questions about the issue of conflicting evidence and my Case Study.
  • And when I get to the “Nirvana Point”–the time when I feel I am 90% done with the paper, I want to remember to review the 11 questions in chapter 8 about my genealogical conclusion.  I want to be able to answer “yes” to every one.

The NGSQ Study Group is meeting next Tuesday morning and I plan on being on the call.  I learn much from the collective wisdom of the group and certainly will be especially watchful of the items noted above.  I can then improve my Case Study, which I have been working on so diligently for the past five days.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have been doing since my last post:  I have been working on my Case Study.  Woo hoo!  In addition, I have presented to the Eastside GS and Skagit Valley GS.  Both were great fun. Upcoming is Seattle GS and British Columbia GS.  I have put together a presentation on “Insanity in the 19th Century: One Family’s Story.” But, so far no one wants to hear it–yet i constantly have people who tell me that some relative of theirs was in an insane asylum in the 1800s or early 1900s.  Do you know someone who wants to hear it?  I will be working on the SGS newsletter this coming week and printing the Spring Seminar Syllabus. I approached Seattle Public Library to teach some genealogy classes.

1The photo was taken by me on 11 April 2015 at the University of Washington, School of Medicine, 750 Mercer, Seattle, Washington in the CERID lab.

Selection of the Familial line for the KDP

bode Fam3I have struggled with the selection of the familial line for the Kinship Determination Project (KDP) for my certification portfolio.  Only recently I have come to a final conclusion and I thought I would share my thought process.

Step 1: selected my proof topic

I do not have a lot of complicated proofs; most lend themselves to proof summaries.  I do not have ancestors that were in this country before 1850 (the “tick mark censuses) and the village of origin was pretty clearly stated by all immigrants during their lifetime and it was corroborated by direct evidence in the original parish records.  Few (almost none) screwed up their birth dates or divorced and changed their names etc.  I have a few “problems” that fall outside that norm so I selected one of just the few.  It is in my Swedish side of the family.  This eliminated this line for consideration in other items for the portfolio due to the requirement that there be familial no overlap.

Step 2: selected the KDP lineage

This was more difficult.  I had many choices but none seemed to be a story I wanted to tell.  I listened to Judy Russell’s BCG presentation on KDPs (not yet online) and was inspired to look for the story.  Then serendipity stepped in.  While flying back from a business trip, I read the assigned article for the NGSQ study group for October.  I finished that article  and idly went on to read the next.  About half way through that article I realized that the organization of article was similar to one I could use for my KDP.  The organization was so clear and carefully laid out, I got very excited.  It followed an immigrant to the United States with two additional generations. Since my family entered the US starting in the mid-1800s, any three generation study almost had to include an immigrant.

I pulled out my computer (not easy with the leg room you have on an airplane these days) and wrote out the outline in generic form.  Then, using the generic outline, I outlined each familial line that I could use for the KDP.  I laid out four options; two were quickly deleted from consideration. Two remained. I developed each a little more and decided on my mother’s paternal line from the immigrant forward.  That lineage seemed to layout easier and better than the others. It was also one I could get excited about writing.  I had already decided to do a descending genealogical summary because the layout of the summary seems easier for me to understand.  I get lost with the ascending type.

Step 3: select the document for transcription

Now you can select the document for transcription.  I had tried to select this first and had a couple of documents transcribed.  I just combed through my exhibits and picked one where I had not used that family line for other work.  That was the one I used.

Step 4: start identifying gaps

The three generation KDP was going to involve a grand-uncle who I had done some work on but not enough.  He is rather famous and so I started looking for his papers which I found in Special Collections all over the Midwest.  Fun!  I now feel I have a good plan with few gaps.  The Case Study (proof argument) is also missing some information which I hope to gather at SLC when I go in January.

So that’s what I did.  Your path will differ because your parameters are different.  Nevertheless, a plan going forward is a great relief. I also would love to get started writing but a few other things are intervening.  I can tell I need to prioritize my portfolio which I am not doing a very good job at…..yet.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting:  The month I publish the SGS Bulletin is always one with few postings.  I just cannot get that much done and still get paid in my day job!  The Bulletin is now to the mailing service and I am very proud of it–we themed it on the Ethnic Communities of the Northwest.  Five writers wrote on Native Americans, African Americans, Nordic, Japanese and Chinese.  Starting on 8 November, I am speaking 3x at the Washington Family History Fair 2014, SGS (the 9th), the University of Washington Retirees Association (the 10th) and to the Stillaquamish Genealogical Society (the 11th).  Whew!– I am totally psyched!  This will be so much fun. (all that speaking in high school speech contests is paying off!)  I checked out a book called Sustainable Genealogy: Solving your Family Myths and Legends by Hite.  I will be writing a book review on it for this blog so stay tuned. (one of my presentations this coming weekend is on “Solving Family Myths Using the Principles of Logic.”  Thanks to Jean Wilcox Hibben CG for her wise counsel on that one.

I am also starting to book lectures for next winter and spring.  If anyone wants to talk to me about lecturing, let me know…..I would be excited about talking to your group!

GPS Element #5: Writing your conclusions

typewriterThis is the third of a series of articles about the Genealogical Proof Standard. [1]  The elements are not being published in numerical order, primarily because I had presentations to make on some of the elements, and I completed those first.  You can read about GPS #1 (thorough search), GPS #2 (source citations)  and  GPS #3 (analysis and correlation), by clicking on the links.  I haven’t yet published GPS #4 (resolving conflicting evidence).

My ProGen class is in its second month of writing their proof arguments. Proof arguments are the basis of the BCG case study and components of the Kinship Determination Project, both requirements for certification.  Proof arguments are a type of genealogical writing that describes, in a scholarly way, our findings to a question.

I won’t dwell on the definition of a proof argument, you can find explanations and examples in a variety of places, including the BCG website (http://www.bcgcertification.org/skillbuilders/worksamples.html). Almost every article in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly is a proof argument.

As our class discussed their first drafts, I started to see some trends in my writing as well as that of my cohort. These observations may reflect a single paper or sometimes the issue is systemic.  One thing remains clear–these are my personal comments.  Each of the items below is composed of 1.) what I see/experience, 2.) any documentation or analysis which clarifies the issue and finally 3.) a statement of how I plan to approach the issue in my own writing.  What you select to incorporate into your proof arguments is a personal decision; your choice may be different than mine.

I pause here for a minute to thank Karen Stanbury, my facilitator for Mastering Genealogical Proof (MGP) by Tom Jones.[2] She made the course, taken in late 2013, rigorous and demanding. I utilize daily the information contained in that book and emphasized by Karen. I know that some facilitators were not as rigorous as Karen and that is their loss.

Observations
1. Research Question:  The crafting of the research question seems easy at first and then reveals itself to be surprisingly difficult. At times I was struggling with defining exactly what I was trying to “prove.”  Did I want to answer when Mary was born, or her location of birth or who were her parents?  In the end, for this assignment, I decided to focus on the parents because I had the evidence to support that question.
Analysis:  The research question is composed of two parts: a clearly defined and unique individual and a measurable interrogatory. To identify an individual who is “unique in the world,” you must supply enough known descriptors that there is only one person who could satisfy those requirements.  The interrogatory may be relationship (e.g. who are the parents of…), or an identity (e.g. Which Alonzo Fedpussle paying taxes in Whichamacallit County in 1879, was the son of Alphonso Fedpussle?) or an activity (e.g. What military service, if any, did Alonzo Fedpussle, born in 1847 in Whichamacallit County, provide in the Civil War?)  The interrogatory also needs to be measurable.  A question such as “who is John Smith?” fails on two counts.  John Smith is not unique in the world but, in addition, the interrogatory “Who was…” is not measurable; said a different way, how would you know if or when the question of “who was John Smith” had been answered?
How I plan to approach it:  I believe that I understand the concept of the unique individual but I will continue to work on the crafting of the good question.  I am hopeful that writing more PAs will result in more efficient writing.  Reading more articles will help as well.  I struggle most with research questions that are implied in the writing but not specifically stated.

2. Organization: The organization of the writing is very challenging. It’s not that I cannot organize the writing, but rather I have trouble picking the best organization for the question, the evidence and the reader.
Analysis:  I am not sure I see too much written about this.  In MGP Dr. Jones describes how the work must have a beginning, a middle and the end (I work with several people who always start conversations “in the middle.” Irritating, isn’t it?)  I think this is harder for some people than others.  Dr. Jones discusses various constructs for the argument, including single hypothesis, alternative hypotheses, building blocks and syllogisms [3]
How I plan to approach it:  My articles usually use one of these techniques as the prime organizing methodology and then within that structure some or all of the others will be utilized.  It sounds like I know what I am doing but it is still hard to pick the right structure for the evidence you have.  I’ll probably blog about this more later.

3. Inclusion/Exclusion: We want to include all we know. We worked so hard to get all that information and just because it doesn’t support the research question doesn’t mean we should eliminate it, does it? Well, yes, it does. The focus of the writing should be on the research question and all other material which does not support the thesis should be deleted. On the flip side and equally as “wrong” as too much information, is making the paper so “bare bones” that the author forces the reader to make assumptions and “leaps of faith.”  A third type of problem with writing of proof arguments is where the author writes something which “begs the question.”  In the latter, the reader is busy wondering why something wasn’t covered; just the inclusion of a brief discussion would have eliminated the alternative focus by the reader.
Analysis:  Inclusion of other information which does not directly support the question, leads the reader away from the prime focus; the author appears to have wandered off topic. The reader should also not be making assumptions because the writer has failed to include necessary evidence.  This type of writing leaves the reader with questions which interrupt the flow of the reading.
How I plan to approach it:  I actually have the problem of putting in too little information and making leaps of faith, under the guise of “isn’t it self-evident?” My writing improves if I have the opportunity to let it sit for a while before rereading.  I also write the paper and then outline it after the first draft.  I find outlining helps identify errant bits of evidence which do not support the question, but notice — I outline after I have written the draft.  If I have difficulty outlining the paper, the area of writing which needs improvement is immediately identified.

4. Proof Argument/Research Plan?: Some in the class wrote the argument as if it were a research plan. This sometimes looked more like a listing of sources which supported the query.  The author would include all the evidence in a source list/discussion but never pull it together and correlate by contrasting and comparing.  They told the story but seemed more interested in the sources than the proof.
Analysis:  The eleven points of MGP continue to guide us in the writing but everyone needs to improve on this. [4]
How I plan to approach it:  I will continue to read NGSQ and study other articles.  I admit I was amazed how much I had learned in the past two years by reading and rereading these articles.  I am a much better consumer of peer reviewed articles than I was before–it’s a bit scarey!

5. Analysis of sources: Am I the only one who doesn’t want to read about whether that will was original or derivative or the information was primary, secondary or undetermined?  The inclusion of source analysis after source analysis which is not additive to the argument makes for difficult reading.  The author has the responsibility to provide informative citations which tell the reader the viability of the source that was used; it is not necessary to do the analysis in such a visible way.  For all the analysis, the evidence could still be wrong.
Analysis: These citations should make obvious whether the author was looking at an original, derivative or authored work; using primary, secondary or undetermined information and providing direct, indirect or negative evidence.  Only when two sources conflict is it reasonable–it seems to me– to expect the author to discuss the quality of the source and then draw a conclusion.   The inclusion of that analysis can happen in one of three places– in the body of the proof, in the footnote of the proof and outside of the paper altogether. Authors who analyze every source and include their analysis in the narrative, make for difficult reading. Note the fifth bullet of the 11 in MGP, “We discuss sources to a lesser extent, because most information about sources belongs in the citations and footnotes.” [5]
How I plan on approach it:  I leave out most and sometime all references to the categories of my source, information and evidence.  I have a tendency to write about the analysis of the source only when it is in conflict, i.e. does the source analysis make one answer more appropriate than another?

6. Style of writing: Some authors wrote a portion of their article in a very familiar style- first person, present tense.
Analysis: The third bullet of the 11 points in MGP states “present-tense verbs refer to extant sources and living people….(consequently, much genealogical writing is in the past tense.) and the tenth bullet “the tone of a proof argument or summary is that of a “defense” in the academic sense.” [6]
How I plan to to approach it:  I have little difficulty using past tense fairly consistently in my writing but occasionally, a present tense verb sneaks in.  I just have to be aware of the issue and address it at the time of writing.  Generally, my writing is rather academic (read: dry) so the use of the first person does not often enter my writing.

So this was, and continues to be, a great exercise. I have written a few proof arguments now and although I cannot say I am comfortable, the efficiency of writing is better and my initial output is stronger.

Happy hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting: commented on my classmates proof arguments; got the SGS newsletter out to our membership; campaigned to have our society join FGS; purchased, received and deeply skimmed Applied Genealogy by Eugene A. Stratton and Genealogical Evidence by Noel Stevenson. Both are older books but are still the go-to reference for genealogy fundamentals. Also read the ProGen assignment for next month and 4 NGSQ articles (one is related to my BCG case study, one was written by a friend, one is the Q study article for March and one is about a special schedule of the 1880 census where a great grand uncle was enumerated as he was labeled insane. More about this later—I am doing some deep research on the topic of incarceration in an insane asylum in the late 1800’s.)

[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville: Turner Publishing Company, 2014) p. 1-2.

[2] Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, VA: National Genealogical Society, 2013).

[3] Ibid, p. 88-89.

[4] Ibid, p. 90.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.