Citing Derivative Genealogy Sources

Citing Derivative Genealogy Sources

Vicki’s note – excerpts from an article by Michele Simmons Lewis below.  Read her entire article by clinking on the title link. The book that she mentions is one of several genealogy abstracts/index books from southern states. Southern Historical Press, Inc. Genealogical Book Publisher:

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The Abstract Trap

Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage.

A derivative source is defined as:

“materials that offer alternate versions of the original—typically transcripts, translations, abstracts, extracts, nutshells, indexes, and database entries. The best derivatives will preserve all the essential details of the original. Still, errors are frequent.(emphasis mine) [1]

Some of the common derivative works are cemetery surveys, marriage abstracts, deed abstracts and will abstracts. These can be in book form, published in a periodical, or in some sort of online database. I want to alert you to a specific trap that I don’t want to you fall into when working with these types of sources. …

One of the books I have in my private library is Marion County, Mississippi Miscellaneous Records. I like this book because it has all kinds of court abstracts…

So what is my source for the evidence contained in this will? Some researchers will cite Marion County, Mississippi Will Book A, page 70-71 and that is the trap. Your source is not the original will book but rather it is the book of abstracts, Marion County, Mississippi Miscellaneous Records. You can’t cite the Will Book unless you actually viewed it yourself. The best-case scenario is to obtain a copy of the will from the will book so that you can analyze it yourself. If you do, you can then cite the will. If not, you need to cite the abstract book…

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