Best Tool for Recording Sources I’ve Found in Ages!

January 29, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Posted in How to Organize Your Genealogy Research | 1 Comment
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Source Post It Note Pad
Record Sources Quick & Easy

Sourcing.  Yes, we all know we’re supposed to do it.  And yes, if we’ve been at this long enough, we’ve suffered from our own self-inflicted pains of not sourcing.  The challenge for me over the many methods I’ve tried is finding a way to do it that is super quick & easy (because recording the source isn’t as fun as reading the good stuff I just found!), but still gets all of the requisite information to find the source again.

  • What is sourcing?  I’ll pause here for a quick primer on sourcing just in case this sourcing business is as confusing to you as it has been for me.  Sourcing is all about recording the authority of the information (the source) you have and the repository (where you found it).  The most common example is a book.  The information found in the book is accredited to the source – the name of the book.  The repository is the library, archive or relative’s house where you found the book.  What do you record about your source?  The best rule of thumb I’ve found is everything you’d need to know to find the source, keeping in mind that others, maybe 50 years from now, may want to chase down that source, too.  So, “grandma’s attic” for the repository may be a little cryptic…if you don’t know who “grandma” is and where “her attic” is located.  For the definitive authority on citations and sourcing, turn to Elizabeth Shown Mill’s book, Evidence Explained.

Back to the subject at hand, the nifty little tool for sourcing I found.  It’s a pad of Post-It notes with a form for sourcing information printed on each page!  All of the information you will most likely need to collect is referenced on the form.  You don’t need to remember what to collect.  The lines are far enough apart to accommodate handwrititng – which is awesome for someone like me who has BIG handwriting.  And because they are paper-based and not an electronic program, they are 100% portable.  I keep a pad in my genealogy bag or purse whenever I’m on the ancestor hunt.

Here’s a perfect example of how I use them.

I’m at the Midwest Genealogy Center, zipping along pulling down local histories and books with birth, marriage, or death record transcriptions.  If the “genealogy gods” are with me, I’ve found several pages worth copying and adding to my files.  So, I make the copies – always include the cover page.  Then I pull out my pad of source post-it notes, and before I return the book to the shelf-for-refiling spot, I collect all the information I need.  I slap the post-it on the cover page of the source, and I’m done!

At this point you may be wondering where to get these little jewels.  Well, wonder no longer.  They are a fund raising product for the Silicon Valley Genealogy Society.  (bonus! helping out a society with a purchase) You can order them here.  They come by mail and in a nifty zip top back with a golf pencil with eraser!

If you do choose to get some, let me know how they work out for you.  Or if you have any tricks for recording sources, weigh in on that, too!

Happy researching.


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  1. […] Let’s say I’m working on a particular person, family, family cluster or regional subject.  It really doesn’t matter the scope or nature of the project for the system to work.  I start in on my research, and I’ve collected several paper sources.  On each source, I’ve attached my Post It with the source information. […]

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