Writing Tip: “Touch it Once” Citations

Genealogical writing can be daunting. There are a lot of moving pieces you have to keep in mind each step of the way. This post is going to address just one of those moving parts: CITATIONS.

Do you find citations time consuming? You may find that they stop you from making much progress, or that you just don’t write at all because they are intimidating and/or confusing. This is a tip for applying the “touch it once” principle to citations.1 If you follow the “touch it once” principle, citations can take up much less of your time.

The “touch it once” principle is a time-saving technique established by efficiency experts generally pertaining to the tasks that enter your life on a daily basis. Take an email for example. Typically, we go through our email and if one is particularly hard or time-consuming, we think “I’ll get to that later.” Then one of two things usually happens. It gets lost down your list of emails never to be seen again, or you come back to it later, read it for the second time and again say to yourself, “I’ll get to it later.” It’s the re-reading and redoing that wastes a lot of time.

Let’s look at this from a citation angle. As genealogists, there are a couple of different types. There’s the one who doesn’t do citations at all, or captures a vague title or URL. There’s the one who collects all of the information that may be needed for a citation and determines to “work on it later.” And there’s the one who crafts the citation, every semicolon, waypoint, and accessed date, right then and there.

I’m not perfect. But I’m here to tell you that as I’ve done this genealogy-thing over the years, I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’ve learned from having to redo things more than twice, and I’ve gotten into the habit of being that last person. I would guess that about 85% of the time, I craft the full citation right then and there. The other 15%, I collect what I think I’ll need and I’ll “work on it later.”

But my “touch it once” tip has one more step. Where do you store that citation once you’ve made it? That is up to you, but I encourage you to store it in a place that is easy to find, easily accessible (stored in the cloud perhaps), and in a system that makes sense to you.

My system utilizes a spreadsheet. I have each crafted citation in its own cell. Over the years, I have accumulated so many citations that I have developed a tagging system. I also capture the surnames involved and a geographic location.

masterfootnotes

As you can see from the screenshot, not every citation is in full EE style.2 This is because some of these I created back when I was a “baby genealogist.” But you can also see some symbols (***) that indicate to me that I’ve checked it against EE and it is more or less up to standard. There are names and initials in purple font in front of each citation. I use that for sorting purposes. Some citation formats don’t begin with something useful for sorting for these purposes and so I came up with this system. I also added the columns for location and surnames. The spreadsheet can be sorted by any column. You can utilize the “find” function to search for a particular word.

As we all know, the “way” we do things change over time. A lot of this has to do with new technology, digitization vs. film, for example. When I began, waypoints were not a thing. Now I find they are quite useful in certain types of citations. Many of these citations will need to be reworked a little bit as things in our industry change. But for the most part, I have a “touch it once” system. Now, when I’m writing an article, entering information into my database, writing a blog post, or anything where I need the citation, all I have to do is cut and paste. No more recreating the citation.

Another thing I do that helps me with citations comes from Standard #8, “Separation Safeguards,” in Genealogy Standards.3 I make sure that somewhere on the face of a document (whether or not I intend to print it), I also affix in a text box, the citation for that source. You can do this by putting the image in a word processor or by annotating images with software like Acrobat, Mac Preview, or Photoshop Elements. Then, if there is some breakdown in my system, at least there is a copy of that citation on that record image.

Like I said, this is a system that works for me. But it also has evolved over time and I go fix some of those old citation styles as I need to. The biggest message here is to not let citations stand in the way of your genealogical writing.


1. “The basic idea behind “touch it once” is that whenever you get an incoming task in front of you, you decide right away what to do with it.” From Zachary Sexton, “The ‘Touch it Once” Principle That Will Skyrocket Your Personal Efficiency,” AsianEfficiency (http://www.asianefficiency.com/mindsets/touch-it-once-productivity-principle/ : viewed 15 January 2019).

2. Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2017.

3. Board for Certification of Genealogists. Genealogy Standards. Nashville: Ancestry, 2014.

Three Things About My Grandma

When I learned about the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and more specifically their useful online databases for genealogy, I discovered that my patriot ancestor was “red lined.” Being “red-lined” means there is something about the applications previously entered that needed more work before someone new could come in under that ancestor. In my guy’s case, the only application submitted was from so long ago that the document and proof requirements weren’t as strict. And so one of my genealogical goals was to fix that. Which I finally did (with the help of a DAR friend). I am a member of the DAR under my ancestor Samuel Dimmick (A032219).

My grandmother, Margaret (Dimick) Miller, is also in his direct line and so this year I got her into the DAR as well. At my local chapter’s DAR meeting, was asked to share three things about my grandmother and these are the top three things that come to mind.

First, she was such a hard-working farmer’s wife. She plowed, planted, and combined with the best of them! She drove tractors, farm trucks, lifted heavy stuff, and all the while being a wife and mother as well.

IMG_0668.JPG
Grandma enjoying LOBSTER on our trip to New England in 2008.

Second, she loved us with her food. She kept such a large garden and none of that food went to waste! She cooked and canned. My favorite thing she made, her homemade ketchup! The store-bought stuff barely comes close, except for Annie’s brand (fancy organic ketchup) which is more expensive but so worth it to me. She also made homemade noodles. Her lovely farm-life dinners that usually included mashed potatoes. And when we’d come to stay, we had Schwann’s ice cream with chocolate and peanuts on top while we watched TV in the evening. And when we left, she always had an individual size bag of M&Ms for us to eat on the ride home.

Third, she had an amazing 60-year marriage with my grandpa, Karl Miller, who died in 2005. I’ve never seen two people more devoted to each other. They were a team. Always having fun, laughing, and being together. As an example, we would go camping with them in their camper, which made room for about 8 people inside. Every night, when they’d go to bed you’d hear them give each other a quick peck and quietly say “I love you” as we were all going to sleep. I cannot for the life of me remember one time when a cross word was said.

My grandma’s DAR application was approved on November 5 and she passed away on November 18 at the age of 93. I am so glad I took the time to get her application in, even if she was a member for only a few days.

You are already missed, Grandma, but I know you are so happy to be with Grandpa again!

Gift Certificates Available, Order Today!

Once again, I have gift certificates available for those of you who put off gift purchasing until the last minute! Give the gift of genealogy this year!

Gift certificates are great because they allow the gift receiver to get a more customized gift! These certificates allow the recipient to choose which project they’d like to work on.

GenPantsGC

I am offering gift certificates for a 10-hour research segment or a 3-hour consultation.

To purchase a gift certificate, click here.

DNA Samples Without All the Spit

Last week at our DNA SIG, I was asked about how to get a DNA saliva sample from someone who cannot make that much saliva. If you are testing your elderly relatives, this can definitely be a problem.

I remembered a colleague discussing a process (thank you Randy Whited!) and so I went looking for the full instructions. I found an amateur-created YouTube video that gives good, quick instructions.

Check out this YouTube video describing the process.1

Good Luck!


1. Reviews @ Another Teen Mom, “Short & Sweet: AncestryDNA & 23andme WITHOUT Spit!” video, uploaded 1 January 2018; YouTube (https://youtu.be/3PBGxDjqUxU : viewed 30 October 2018).

Board for Certification of Genealogists Adopts Standards for DNA Evidence

The use of DNA in our genealogical research is becoming more and more prevalent. As the use of DNA has grown, the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has been assessing how it has affected the field. As a result, BCG has adopted new standards for the use of DNA in genealogical work.

The following news release was received from BCG making the announcement:

For immediate release 27 October 2018
News Release, Board for Certification of Genealogists

Board for Certification of Genealogists Adopts Standards for DNA Evidence

On 21 October 2018, the Board for the Certification of Genealogists (BCG) approved five modified and seven new standards relating to the use of DNA evidence in genealogical work. BCG also updated the Genealogist’s Code to address the protection of people who provide DNA samples.

The new measures are intended to assist the millions of family historians who now turn to genetic sources to establish kinships. The action followed a public comment period on proposed standards released by BCG earlier this year.

“BCG firmly believes the standards must evolve to incorporate this new type of evidence,” according to BCG President Richard G. Sayre. “Associates, applicants, and the public should know BCG respects DNA evidence. It respects the complexity of the evidence and the corresponding need for professional standards. BCG does not expect use of DNA to be demonstrated in every application for certification. However, all genealogists, including applicants, need to make sound decisions about when DNA can or should be used, and any work products that incorporate it should meet the new standards and ethical provisions.”

“Standards for Using DNA Evidence,” a new chapter to be incorporated in Genealogy Standards, introduces the issues this way:

“Meeting the Genealogical Proof Standard requires using all available and relevant types of evidence. DNA evidence both differs from and shares commonalities with documentary evidence. Like other types of evidence, DNA evidence is not always available, relevant, or usable for a specific problem, is not used alone, and involves planning, analyzing, drawing conclusions, and reporting. Unlike other types of evidence, DNA evidence usually comes from people now living.”

In brief1, the new standards address seven areas:

  • Planning DNA tests. The first genetic standard describes the qualities of an effective plan for DNA testing including types of tests, testing companies, and analytical tools. It also calls for selecting the individuals based on their DNA’s potential to answer a research question.
  • Analyzing DNA test results. The second genetic standard covers factors that might impact a genetic relationship conclusion, including analysis of pedigrees, documentary research, chromosomal segments, and mutations, markers or regions; also, composition of selected comparative test takers and genetic groups.
  • Extent of DNA evidence. The third genetic standard describes the qualities needed for sufficiently extensive DNA data.
  • Sufficient verifiable data. The fourth genetic standard addresses the verifiability of data used to support conclusions.
  • Integrating DNA and documentary evidence. The fifth genetic standard calls for a combination of DNA and documentary evidence to support a conclusion about a genetic relationship. It also calls for analysis of all types of evidence.
  • Conclusions about genetic relationships. The sixth genetic standard defines the parameters of a genetic relationship and the need for accurate representation of genealogical conclusions.
  • Respect for privacy rights. The seventh genetic standard describes the parameters of informed consent.
  • The modifications made to several existing standards call for:
  • Documentation of sources for each parent-child link.
  • Where appropriate, distinction among adoptive, foster, genetic, step, and other kinds of familial relationships.
  • Use of graphics as aids, for example: genealogical charts and diagrams to depict proved or hypothesized relationships; or lists and tables to facilitate correlation of data and demonstrate patterns or conflicts in evidence.
  • Explanations of deficiencies when research is insufficient to reach a conclusion.

A new edition of Genealogy Standards is expected to be ready by next March. A new application guide and judging rubrics incorporating the new standards will be released at about the same time. In the interim, portfolios submitted for consideration for certification will be evaluated using the existing Genealogy Standards.

1. The Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG) contractually granted the publisher of Genealogy Standards the exclusive right to copy, publish and distribute the standards including amendments. However, BCG-certified associates have the contractual right to include reasonable portions of the standards in presentations, articles, blog posts, social media, and the like. In no case may BCG or its associates allow the standards to be published in their entirety because the publisher deems that competitive to its publication rights.

The words Certified Genealogist and the designation CG are registered certification marks and the designations Certified Genealogical Lecturer and CGL are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board-certified associates after periodic competency evaluations, and the board name is registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Busy Fall and Preparing for SLIG Tech Day

Fall always seems to bring on a fresh new season of busy-ness. I’m usually quite busy around the holidays, busy around spring, busy in the summer, and then fall hits and things are busy again…but the feeling of fall is one of starting. Which is weird because seasonally we are getting ready for winter and hibernation. This is likely a product of the school year, fall through winter and so autumn brings on the feeling of beginning again.

I have been working on filling in my schedule of speaking engagements for the foreseeable future. I am teaching some local classes here and there. You can always see my upcoming lecture schedule on my Speaking Calendar page.

I am excited to be presenting two three-hour workshops for SLIG’s Tech Day on January 19, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. First I will teach “Using Evernote to Create an Effective Research Plan and Log System” followed by “Using Google’s MyMaps as a Research and Analysis Tool.”

I taught the Google’s MyMaps class last year. It went really well and sold out quickly, and they even added a few extra seats that sold out too so they agreed that we should see about teaching it again. Google’s MyMaps is a really cool tool and I enjoy showing people what it can do and then seeing what they come up with.

The Evernote presentation is a new one for me. I use Evernote everyday. I love it. It is so versatile, handy, easily accessible, user-friendly, and more. I find it quite easy to use both for research planning and logging, or “plogging” as I like to call it.

Both workshops will be interactive with in-class exercises that will ensure the students practice what I am demonstrating, and get them to a place that they can begin right away with the tools.

For more information on SLIG Tech Day, visit this website: https://ugagenealogy.org/cpage.php?pt=526

New AncestryDNA Ethnicity Update

If you haven’t logged in to your Ancestry DNA account today, you might want to go take a peek. They released an update to the ethnicity estimates, making some adjustments and refining some regions to be a little more specific.

Here is mine:

DNA ethnicity update1

Compared to my previous numbers:

PreviousDNA

You can see that they’ve refined some of the regions such as “Great Britain” to “England, Wales, & Northwestern Europe.” And they’ve split out Wales from the previous category of “Ireland/Scotland/Wales.” “Europe West” has been refined to “Germanic Europe.”

This refinement makes more sense from what I know from documentary research and it is good to see updates to the data.

APG Seeks Nominations

As a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, a board member, and a member of the Nominating Committee, I want to highlight the fact that the APG is seeking recommendations for eligible persons to serve on the board for 2019-2020 terms. I have served 1 1/2 terms and have learned so much, not just about APG or about serving on a national board, but also about being a professional genealogist and networking with others.

I believe that if you have ideas, opinions, and generally want to enact change in or support this community that we all interact in and benefit from, then perhaps serving a term (or more) is a great idea. (This applies beyond genealogy, of course!) And I can’t stress enough about the relationships I’ve formed and colleagues I’ve gained, as well as the work I’ve supported that the APG does to serve and make better the professionalism of our trade.

For recommendations please contact admin@apgen.org and read the details below.

The official release reads thusly:

Call for Recommendations for APG Board of Directors. Deadline: 31 Aug 2018

WHO WILL HELP RUN APG, THE WORLD’S LARGEST ORGANIZATION FOR PROFESSIONAL GENEALOGISTS? The APG Nominations Committee invites members to recommend candidates for the APG Board of Directors, and the Nominations Committee. Deadline for nominations to any of these positions is 31 August 2018.

Under our bylaws six persons will be elected to serve at-large to a two year term on the Board of Directors beginning on 1 January 2019. Two of the three-person Nominations Committee are elected to nominate candidates for the 2019 election.

Send your recommendations (they can include yourself) to the Nominations Committee at admin@apgen.org. Please include each recommended person’s contact information and their consent to be recommended. A statement of qualifications would help but is not required. Deadline: 31 August 2018.

Board members must be APG members in good standing who joined before 1 August 2017. Board members should have some knowledge of the association’s goals and procedures and a strong interest in the welfare of APG and professional genealogists worldwide.

See https://www.apgen.org/contacts/index.html for a list of current board members. The Nominations Committee will prepare a list of candidates by September 15. The election will be held in late October. Board members should:

* be familiar with bylaws, policies, and procedures;
* make an effort to attend at least one of the two annual in-person board meetings plus the two or three virtual board meetings;
* come prepared to board meetings, having read all minutes and communications;
* respond in a timely fashion to email votes;
* serve in at least one capacity besides that of board member;
* when in attendance at a conference, volunteer at the APG booth; and
* communicate with the membership in some of the following ways: talk to members seeking out opinions, concerns, ideas; contribute to the APGQ or the APG eNews; participate in APG List discussions; join a chapter or Special Interest Group.

2018 Nominations Committee:
Cari Taplin, CG
Melanie Holtz, CG
Elizabeth O’Neal

Laura G. Prescott SLIG Scholarship Announced

One of the best, brightest, kindest, and most selfless genealogists in the genealogy community, Laura Prescott, has decided to enter hospice care after years of fighting a tough battle with cancer.

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) has announced a scholarship in her honor. As if the writing of this post, the fund has reached over $14,000!

What a wonderful gift to remember and honor such a kind and generous person whose smile would just light up a room!

You can read the full details and how to donate here: https://ugagenealogy.blogspot.com/2018/07/new-laura-g-prescott-slig-scholarship.html?m=1

Please consider a donation, no matter how small, to help honor this lovely person and gift the community with a wonderful legacy in her memory for years to come.

Interested in Certification? Try a Discussion Group!

2018-06-12_14-31-22I recently completed my first time as discussion group leader (ring leader?) with Jill Morelli’s “Certification Discussion Groups” (CDG for short). These groups were created to demystify the process of preparing and submitting your portfolio for the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). It was a fun time. I got to meet with old friends and make new ones. And they got to ask questions about the process, be each others’ cheerleaders, and have the opportunity to study and process portfolios and judges’ comments.

The discussion groups are seven weeks and are divided up as follows:

  • Week 1: Intros, Application, Resources & Strategy I
  • Week 2: Ethics, Dev Activities & Strategy II

  • Week 3: Transcriptions

  • Week 4: Research Report (Client Report)

  • Week 5: Case Study

  • Week 6: Kinship Determination Project (KDP)

  • Week 7: Evaluation & Process

We go over each part of the application as well as the rubrics and standards for each piece. We also discuss some of the confusing items such as the differences between a narrative lineage, genealogy, and pedigree, and the differences between a proof statement, proof summary, and proof argument, and more. Questions arise as to what a particular standard or rubric means and this group allows for discussion of those questions.

The groups take place via video conferencing either via GoTo Meeting or Zoom. There are homework assignments that are meant to enhance the discussion, but they are optional. The course is not meant to be intensive, rather to answer specific questions about the process, dispel any myths that are floating around, give participants a chance to hear from people who have been through the process and passed, but aren’t PERFECT! We share our mistakes, the things we learned, and tips for avoiding overwhelm.

If you are interested in the process, are considering becoming certified, are already on the clock, or just wondering if it is even for you, I encourage you to participate in one of the groups. Current discussion group leaders are Jill Morelli, Angela McGhie, and myself. For more information and to be added to the waiting list, contact Jill jkmorellli@gmail.com.