Re: Sources and Citations

John Ball

I've been studying the responses to John Firr's original question with great interest, but also with amazement, because there has not been a single reference to the work of Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Many years ago, when I received my first copy of Family Historian software, it was bundled with a softback edition of "Evidence: Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian", by Elizabeth Shown Mills, first published in 1997.

Shown Mills' subsequent work became the ultimate authority on referencing and citation in genealogy, and her ideas were adopted as such by the US Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG).
ESM's 1997 book ran to just 127 pages, but her more recent tome on the subject, entitled "Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace" is a weighty 875 pages. Now in its 3rd revised edition (April 2017), it is available in hardback, and as a Kindle edition.

At the other end of the scale, Strathclyde University produces in PDF format, a 40-page referencing guide for students of its Masters (MSc), Postgraduate Diploma, and Postgraduate Certificate in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies, available online at

The Strathclyde guide is nowhere near as comprehensive, nor as prescriptive as the Shown Mills book. But it's free!

The Shown Mills book probably tells us far more than we need to know, unless we are preparing for certification by the BCG, but no discussion about citation of genealogy sources is complete without reference to her work.

Kind regards,

John Ball
Brecon, Powys

On 23/11/2020 18:15, johnfirr via wrote:
I have been turning recently to the topic of making my sources and citations better and have been looking at a number of "referencing for genealogists" books such as the one by Ian Mcdonald.

These books and a number of internet presentations talk about the "Harvard standard" and the concept of laying out sources in a "Who, what, when and where" style.

I am struggling to get my head around how these relate to the "title, short title, author, publication headings etc " in the Family Historian template such that they print out in the right format on my reports.

Does anyone have any tips or techniques that might aid my understanding?
Sorry if thats a bit loosely defined but it is a general enquiry as I,m sure there is no absolutely correct method.
John F

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