See also: Publishing, Transcriptions & Abstracts
Always record your sources on your family group sheets and on photocopies, abstracts, and transcriptions of original records or published sources. A source citation serves two purposes. It reminds you where you obtained the information, and it allows you to evaluate that information and decide whether it is reliable or whether you should seek information from additional sources.
The Genealogy Proof Standard
Proof is a fundamental concept in genealogy. In order to merit confidence, each conclusion about an ancestor must have sufficient credibility to be accepted as "proved." Acceptable conclusions, therefore, meet the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). The GPS consists of five elements:
- a reasonably exhaustive search;
- complete and accurate source citations;
- analysis and correlation of the collected information;
- resolution of any conflicting evidence; and
- a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.
See The Genealogical Proof Standard. Board for the Certification of Genealogists.
- The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for
Writers, Editors, and Publishers. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, [periodically updated]
- Citing Records in the National Archives of the United
States. General Information Leaflet no. 17. Washington,
D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1977; full text available
online at <http://www.archives.gov/publications/general-info-leaflets/17.html>
- Curran, Joan Ferris, Madilyn Coen Crane, and John H. Wray;
Elizabeth Shown Mills, editor. Numbering Your Genealogy:
Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin.
Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2008. This book
is divided into three chapters: "Basic Systems," written by
Curran; "Complex Families," by Crane; and "International Kin" by
- Dougall, Brenda. About Genealogical Standards of
Evidence. 2nd edition. Ontario Genealogical Society, 2005.
Is an online option that creates a citation from information
you enter. EasyBib prepares citations for 58 different types of
sources. Citations can be created using MLA, APA or Chicago/Turabian
styles. This is a great service to use to create your citations
as you work.
Genealogy Research Map. By Mark Tucker. The Genealogy
Research Map combines the concepts found in The Genealogical
Proof Standard (GPS) from the Board for Certification of
Genealogists and the many works of Elizabeth Shown Mills into a
single visualization. It is my hope that others will find this
map useful as a learning tool or reference.
- Harland, Derek. Genealogical Research Standards.
Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
- Jones, Thomas W. What is the Standard of Proof in Genalogy?"
NGS NewMagine. 33, 2 (April/May/June 2007): 22-26.
- Lackey, Richard Stephen. Cite Your Sources. New
Orleans: Polyanthos, 1980. Reprint, Jackson, Mississippi:
University Press of Mississippi, 1990. Was the standard for a
generation of genealogists.
- Leclerc, Michael J. and Henry B. Hoff, editors.
Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century: A Guide to Register
Style and More. 2nd edition. NEHGS, 2006. Does not teach you
how to write, but guides you through the process of writing
compiled genealogies using the Register style and
includes tips on submitting articles to genealogical journals,
magazines, and websites.
- Little, Barbara Vines. "Documentation--A Formula for Every
Day." NGS NewsMagazine. 32,3 (July/August/September
- Merriman, Brenda Dougall. About Genealogical Standards of
Evidence: A Guide for Genealogists. Second edition.
Toronto, Ontario: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2004.
- Merriman, Brenda Dougall. Genealogical Standards of
Evidence: A Guide for Genealogists. Toronto, Ont: Natural
- Merriman, Brenda Dougall, and Brenda Dougall Merriman.
Genealogical Standards of Evidence: A Guide for Family
Historians. Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2010. She explains and illustrates
proof theory and standards in just four chapters.
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence! Citation & Analysis for
the Family Historian. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical
Publishing Co., 1997. Discussion of the fundamentals of citation
with numerous citation formats. Is the new standard for many
genealogists. Part 2 provides over 300 models for citing
standard and electronic sources in bibliographies and
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Analysis: A Research
Process Map. Washington, D.C., Board for Certification of
Genealogists, 2006. This handy laminated card summarizes what
are probably the most important terms and most essential
concepts in the genealogical field today.
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing
History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Baltimore:
Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 2007. Will help you cite
correctly the sources used in writing a family history.
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown. QuickSheet: Citing Online
Historical Sources. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical
Publishing Co., 2005. 8.5"x 11", 4pp. A template for citing
historical sources on the Internet. Contains a series of sample
citations showing the correct way to identify online sources
such as databases, census images, and digital books and
Missouri State Archives website has a section on citing
records at the Missouri State Archives.
- National Archives and Records Administration. General
Information Leaflet #17 "Citing
Records in the National Archives"
- Rose, Christine. Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a
Solid Case. 2nd edition rev. San Jose, California: CR
- Ross-Larson, Bruce. Edit Yourself: A Manual for Everyone
Who Works with Words. Rev. edition. New York: W.W. Norton,
- Think Genealogy. Is the creation of genealogist Mark Tucker. This tool will help you focus your research and learn how to go through the steps necessary to take your family history research from start to finish. The Research Process Map is a visual diagram of concepts taught by Elizabeth Shown Mills and the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You can download and print the map from the PDF on the above link. This is a tool that needs to have a permanent place in your research binder.