Friday, 3 August 2012

The importance of sources

When I started this blog I chose not to include my sources of information as I felt it would spoil the appearance of each entry and was unnecessary as I would be happy to pass on the sources to any interested parties.  Several things have happened recently which have reminded me how important it is to always provide sources for data.

I wrote earlier this month about the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar; I got interested in the subject having overheard a conversation where someone recounted the tale of people rioting because of their lost 11 days.  So far as I am aware this is an myth and I have searched the internet for any reference to somewhere where there was actual rioting without success but I did find many sites which recounted this event as fact without providing sources (if anyone knows of somewhere please let me know).

Since writing about Hannah Russell I have found a lot of references to her and the events of 1826 but again most of what I have found fails to give sources.

Of course, like me, the authors of these websites might have the sources and would be happy to provide them but a website or a blog survives for a long time.  The authors move on to new projects, paperwork is lost along with the references.   Websites can outlive the authors leaving no way to verify the work they have done without redoing it from the beginning.

Even if you have no intention of ever publishing your work it is still important to keep full and complete records of your searches - even those with negative results - as you may need to defend your connections later on and don't want to have to repeat searches.  I started my family history research when I was 12 years old and rushed in recording births, deaths and marriages without keeping much record by way of sources.  Now when I go back to those early records I have to re-do the research to confirm where I got the data from in the first place.

So I have learnt my lesson and will always quote my sources in the future!

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