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!


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.


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


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!


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 ( : 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! 🙂



Home again!

jacobson-chris-funeral-arrangementsI have now arrived home and am faced with the work of analyzing the mounds of information which I “harvested” on my trip through the Midwest. “Harvest” is the best word, because I recognize that my itinerary and timeline did not allow me to take as much care as I might want with each document at the time I gathered it.

So how will I do this?

  1. I have to focus on my portfolio for certification; therefore, I will separate the items which pertain to the portfolio first.  There are three documents or sets which are important:
    1. Naturalization papers (first and final papers) of John/Jan Cornelius Bode.
    2. Church papers from Christian Reformed Church, Leighton, Iowa, founded by my ancestor in 1895. This is a more arduous task as transcription may be in order and there are many pages.  It is possible also that nothing from these documents will make the portfolio.
    3. Study the will I found in courthouse and compare to online version which I am using in my transcription element of my portfolio. They are different, but how different?
    4. Negative findings are important too.  I have to figure out how these work into my paper.
  2. I need to incorporate my new findings about Dirk Bode into my “Finding Dirk!” presentation which I am giving in October.
    1. New photos taken at the Peoria site of the buildings
    2. New photos taken of the grave of Dirk
    3. information from the conservator
    4. Information found in the probate and conservator packet including that the family visited Dirk while in the asylum, sent Christmas presents annually and “pin money” for him.
  3. Everything else.
    1. Scads of deeds, photos and even the funeral director’s notes on the automobile procession for my grandfather’s funeral (see above.) [1]
    2. Newspaper notices of the bankruptcy of my grandfather, particularly the loss of his bank in 1931/1932. (Note to self: actual court documents may be in NARA in St. Louis.)
    3. Investigation of the individuals at the Elgin Insane Asylum, looking for evidence of PTSD.
    4. Article on what one might find in court minutes at the county level. (I have no idea who might like to publish this one.)

I think that’s enough for a while!  (Couple the above with a 1 week vacation in the San Juans with friends from OK, a 3 part Beginning Swedish Genealogy class starting October 26 and a number of Saturday presentations and seminars, including one in Indiana with Anne Staley–I think I will have a very busy Fall.)

Happy hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  traveled to Seattle–14 hours of driving time from my brother’s place in WY.  And unpacking the car–which is no mean feat when you realize I have been living out of it for six weeks. I am glad to be home, as is my cat!

[1] Kenneth F. Boughton, “Funeral Arrangements,” notes for the procession for Mrs. Chris Jacobson, (MS, Britt, Iowa, 7 September 1941); privately held by Betty (Jacobson) Anderson, [address for private use,] Downers Grove, Illinois, 2016. Ms. Anderson is the daughter of Mrs. Chris “Emma” (Anderson) Jacobson.

KDP Hints & Tips

2016 0220 Pima CtyI have been working on my Kinship Determination Project (KDP) for the past 2 weeks (no, I am 4th from left, not second!). The KDP is a component of my portfolio for certification and has to prove the relationships between three generations of a family.  Many days I put in 8-12 hours of work. Other days, I muster 6 hours.  The reality is usually somewhere in-between. I have developed some thoughts about the process of the KDP.  These thoughts were encouraged by my hostess here in Tucson, a Ph.D. in Business.

We are taught at institutes etc. about research records sets and how to access and use them. We are introduced to the Genealogical Proof Standard which is a road map for solution of problems but…

…we are not taught how one actually does qualitative research, the research of interviews, observations and documents. Nor are we trained in how to organize that data so it is retrievable when needed.

How should we start?

First off–I think I approached my KDP all wrong! This doesn’t mean my output will be unacceptable, just that my process might have been smoother if I thought about it differently. Recently there was an engaged discussion about the similarities–or not–of the Genealogical Proof Standard  to the Scientific Process on the Transitional Genealogist list serve. (resolution: unresolved)

One thing that is very different for genealogists is that we collect sources, information and evidence over decades.  The Social Scientist will devise a research problem, develop a plan and then go out and gather data, synthesize the data and report. They start with the end in mind. Often we, as genealogists, “grow” into our field–true OJT.

Another differences between my friend’s (or anyone’s) thesis and the process outlined for any KDP is the amount of collaboration that is encouraged in one and discouraged, and in fact, prevented in another.  I wonder if ‘no collaboration’ is a good idea. Is the best research done in a vacuum? Is the best outcome the interpretation by one person?

Should I have started writing my KDP with a research question? Should I have developed a plan first? Should I have had a better idea of the outcome before I started? I had a theme, but could that have made me more sharply focused if it had been articluated as a question?

Here are some hints based on my sometimes successful and sometimes stumbling approach to getting my KDP written! Some of these ideas I incorporated from the beginning  and other ideas came to me too late. I am, of course, assuming you have already gathered a fair amount of information about your family already.

  • Use your genealogy software program religiously.  Every document is an event entered. I have at least one citation (crude, admittedly) for every event. I have linked every individual involved in every event. I did a rough transcription of every entry (I didn’t know enough to do a good one, but it doesn’t matter because I go back to the original anyway.) What a time saver now!
  • Test several KDP three-generation scenarios to see what  might work for you. Put them up on a wall and look at them.
  • Write a paragraph about each of the three-generation scenarios you identified.  Make very brief notes on each of the generations for each triplet. Do you have a research question you are trying to “answer” for the reader?
  • Analyze each scenario. Is there a theme running through three generations?  Do you care if there is? What is the triplet that you might like to work on for months!  At a minimum, you had best like the family you are writing about.
  • Develop an outline of your paper; a very brief outline is fine but it’s time to get serious about the structure of the paper. Probably, at least one of your outlines will be chronological but try other organizations of the paper, perhaps thematic or some other plan. Nevertheless, you will make at least one outline for each scenario with some high-level events you wish to include in each.
  • Develop your first research plan.  What are you missing? What sources are you relying on that should be better? Your goal will be to keep a running research plan going at all times because as you write the document, you will continually to identify new information your are lacking to achieve Element #1 of the GPS– “a reasonably exhaustive research.” I use post-its on the wall.
  • Understand your own writing pattern. Yours will not be like mine. I used snippets from my genealogy software in chrono order and then return to each snippet and develop it appropriately. Some get deleted; some get combined or expanded.
  •  Organize your collected data.  This is the “stuff” that relates but is not event oriented. I could have used Evernote more. The ability to tag (perhaps based on your research plan or first outline?) would have been ideal.  I used it but not to the extent I could have. It helped when I could use it.
  • Reduce the number of places you store information. I have my content right now in about 5 places: books on my shelf; photos, e-journals etc. on my iPad; photos of content on my phone; my genealogical software; and my computer. It would have been better if it was all in one place, or at most two.  The good news is that the number of places I stored my information is finite and small, so I do not have too many places to look!
  • Update the outline as you go. This will keep you focused and point out the areas where you are still missing information.
  • Develop a citation style sheet so your citations are VERY consistent. I made my own. Mine almost looks like a bibliography of all my sources but in full reference note form. I don’t think Zotera and other such programs work for us but if they work for you, go for it–let me know. Maybe I missed the boat here.
  • Take off six weeks away from you home and use the time  to write–make it Arizona if you live up north and it’s winter. I do not even have a cat to pet! I recommend this highly. 🙂
  • And, finally, no excuses. Just do it!

There are three components to my KDP writing –I write the narrative; I work on citations and I re-read articles and books for content that I might have missed and which I now wish to incorporate into the paper. I cycle through the three elements all day–when I get bored/uninspired with one, I move to another.

I am not done writing my KDP. I am not even done with a first draft (closer every day), but I hope these organizational hints will help you as you go forward.

If you want more information about qualitative research as a methodology, my friend recommended two books. The second book might be helpful with the Evernote tags. I know that genealogical research is not like surveying a million people and trying to keep track of the results but if we can borrow from other academies, why shouldn’t we?

  • Michael Quinn Patton, Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2002)
  • Johnny Saldana, The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers, (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2009)

I think genealogy, if it is to be considered a discipline by the ones who now do not, should teach the next generation of professional genealogists about how to research, how to  record qualitative work and how to retrieve that information successfully.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since my last posting: presented to the Pima County Genealogical Society on the GPS (see photo); went out to eat with relatives of my husband and wrote, wrote, and wrote some more.

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!


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

A KDP Conversation at NwGC

Clock mathI have been struggling with my writing of the Kinship Determination Project or KDP.  First, I procrastinated.  Now, the struggle is with multiple issues but this post is about my conversations with certified genealogists at the Northwest Genealogical Conference (NwGC) and their KDP.

Who was the audience for your KDP? Said a different way, for whom did you write the KDP?

The KDP can be written for any number of audiences including BCG, other certified genealogists, for family or for the author. The recommendation of others is that you have a lot more “fun” and write much more genuinely, if you write the KDP for yourself or your family.  There are several specific requirements by BCG (see the application guide) and these have to be dealt with directly.  These inclusions may not be appreciated by your relatives.

If the KDP theme is discordant with the thoughts today, e.g. slavery, Naziism,  how does one prevent a personal perspective or opinion from creeping unknowingly in the story?

Most respondents commented about how important it was to not mistake the moral standards of today with the standards or pressures on our ancestors, something ESM describes as “present-ism”.  The writer needs to be objective, even dispassionate while telling the story. The commonly held belief was that the answer was “yes” — one could, even must, remain dispassionate about the topic. It was also mentioned that if your ancestor was slow to make the change or even strategized against the change at a time when knowledge was available contrary to their commonly held belief, then that is part of the story as well. Our ancestors were not perfect people.  The story still  needs to be told in a way that can enlighten the reader perhaps even pointing out this inability to accept the change.

Do I have to be a super expert about the theme–or context of the writing?

The only reasonable answer is “It depends.”  If your context is “World Peace,” no one is the expert and you cannot convey all you know into 150 pages! 🙂  If your context is local, then, yes, you do have to be the expert illustrating exhaustive research.  For those in the middle–you have to decide when enough is enough to tell your story truthfully.  But remember, you are the expert of your family.

I want to thank all the generous genealogists that I quizzed throughout the day at the Northwest Genealogical Conference 2015 and who shared their thoughts and advice.

My next “KDP Writer’s Weekend” was scheduled for Labor Day weekend.  It appears that it will shift to the following weekend. Doesn’t mean that I won’t be working on the document in-between. I will be speaking next at Skagit Valley GS with Mary Kathryn Kozy on 19 September on “Just Do It! Writing Your Family History” and “My Top Ten Tech Tools I Really Use–Really.”

Happy Hunting!


What I have been doing since the last posting:  Attended the NwGC.  Congratulations to Stillaguamish Genealogical Society and Karen and Eric Stroshein for developing this significant NW conference. I continue to educate myself on my theme of my KDP. I am putting together a workshop on “An Overview of Scandinavian Records” so I am reading the materials that Kathy Meade handed out at her sessions she gave on ArkivDigital at NwGC.




KDP Writing Weekend #1: How Did I Do?

2013 0818 writingIn looking back over this intensive writing weekend when I put in a minimum of 21 hours writing on my KDP, I discovered some new/old truths which may help others of you who are also procrastinating about certification….

Truth #1: starting is the hard part.  While I may not be having all the “fun” that Judy Russell did when she wrote her KDP, I did find it liberating to get started. (You can find her webinar by clicking here.)

Truth #2: Mix it up!  I did some reading, some writing, some citations until I found, I really wanted to tackle the genealogical proof summary–and so I did that all day Sunday.

Truth #3: Take breaks.  I didn’t take enough of them but should have taken a few more–maybe even a nap.  These can be as small as watering the plants (Lord knows they need it.) or going to a picnic. They were great ways to disengage the mind.  I even played a few computer games.

Truth #4:  Get some sleep.  I missed on this one.  I didn’t go to bed until 1:00 am most nights and woke up groggy the next mornings.

Truth #5: Take time to read the BCG Application Guide, to remind yourself of what you might have forgotten and re-read Genealogy Standards. (It’s just dawned on my that I don’t have the latest edition on my iPad.)

Truth #6:  Make sure you have Numbering Your Genealogy and Evidence Explained close at hand.  I cannot tell you how many times I opened both.  For a while I thought I was catching a breeze but it was only the fluttering pages of those two books! 🙂

Truth #7:  I stunned myself how organized I was when I first started researching my family. I have used Master Genealogist (sigh) since 2002, and my goal then, as it is now, is to find every source with the desired evidence within 20 seconds or less and I can!!  I found a critical 1978 letter that I forgot even existed — in 20 seconds.  Course, I also found that I had misfiled a probate file and now I have to go back and get it. Most of the sources I am missing, I never had.

Truth #8: Don’t store your BCG envelope next to a window.  It can get wet.  Luckily, none of the truly important stuff did–but still–where was my head?

Truth #9:  I found myself losing focus on Sunday at 8:30 pm.  So I quit and watched WDYTYA and went to bed.  It was time.

Truth #10:  Do it again!  The next KDP Writing Weekend #2 is scheduled for Labor Day.  3.5 days!  I don’t know if I can stay focused that long.  I may have to mix it up with some library work.  We’ll see.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  Well, you pretty well know, but I also structured the OGSA program for the 2016 conference in Excel and sent it off to the Board for their review, attended a PS-APG picnic, prepped my next presentation on “House Histories–Thank You Taxman!” for the Northwest Genealogical Conference (NwGC). I present on Saturday.  Saw a Call for Proposal that looked right for my librarian friend and I to apply for. (She and I have been looking for some time to find the right venue for us to present–we are going to sit down and brainstorm a presentation.)


The BCG Application Guide. Board for Certification of Genealogists: Washington, DC, 2011.

Board for Certification of Genealogists. Genealogy Standards. Nashville, Tennessee: Turner Publishing, Company, 2014.

Curran, Joan Ferris, Madilyn Coen Crane and John H. Wray. Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2008.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: City History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Third edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015.