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Citing Indexes & Finding Aids

Oh, yes, we love them—those indexes and finding aids. They shortcut our slogs through endless records. Used wisely, they lead us to more (and more accurate) information. But they can also perplex us and mislead us. Here are a few tips to help us reap their benefits without nicking ourselves with our own scythe. ...

The Power of a Word—and a Mindset

Words do have power. They don’t just inform. They can convince or dissuade. They can excite us or they can discourage us. And all of that just might explain something we’ve noticed for two of our recent posts. Which would you say is the hardest for historical researchers: Finding records on “people,” or finding records on women? ...

Your 7 Basic Rules for Identifying Sources. Just 7.

If you ever felt like source citation involves too many rules, this list is for you. Yes, in every style guide for every field, each "rule" is there for a purpose; but if you're able to remember them all, you're likely to be an editor or a fuss-pot. For everyone else—normal people who have learned to look up "particulars" in one of those style guides but would prefer to mentally tote around just a short list—here's EE's 7 Basic Rules.

A Record Here ... A Record There ... Wow! A Match!

A record here, a record there, and we have a match. Or do we? A researcher, in another forum, presented a problem. He is studying ...

When 'Citing' Means Regurgitating

Sometimes, the simplest things are the most confusing. A researcher just asked: "When I'm citing something, when do I use the word 'citing'?" The answer, of course, is "It depends." A few months ago, another EE user approached the question in a different way ...

How To Solve a Research Problem

It’s doable. Really. All it takes are two nevers and three always. Here's your five-star solution ...

A Church Book Is a Church Book Is a Church Book

Across centuries of record-keeping, different denominations have created different types of records. ... Regardless of the country in which you work, your citations to church books will have essentially the same elements. ...

Unofficial Record Keepers & Reasonably Exhaustive Research

History researchers are trained not to make conclusions about issues until their research has been reasonably exhaustive. They comb the published literature and archival catalogs in search of relevant materials. If their subject is local or biographical in nature, they know that public records need to be explored. But no biography or local study can ever be complete until we have identified and studied the works of that area's unofficial record keepers. ... Oh? Who's that? ...

A Marriage Record Is a Marriage Record Is a Marriage Record—Not!

As researchers, we use words so loosely. Too loosely. We speak of *the* marriage record as though just one existed. We cite a date of marriage from a courthouse index without questioning *which* marriage-related event actually occurred on that date. In fact, we even see dates of marriage cited for couples who never went through the ceremony after one of the preliminary records was created. (Should I confess here that ...

Hairsplitting Those Property & Probate Records

Originals? True originals? Duplicate originals? Record copies? Certified records? The ‘most original'? How do I tell the difference? Does it even matter? ...

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