QuickTest: A Colonial Trial Docket
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Someone, in another forum, asked how to cite a source. Someone else asked “Why?” as in Why bother? In their opinion, “Sourcing takes too much time!”
Does it really?
The inquirer had found something of interest in a back issue of Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, for which Ancestry offers images within a database. She helpfully included a link.
As always in such cases, we have 2 things to cite:
Yesterday’s QuickTest presented, for analysis, one page of a record—a military roster providing data on “Corporal Young Lemmas of Company B, 1st Arkansas Regiment, C.S.A." Suzanne Matson earns the prize for the first person to spot the targeted problem. No, a military company would not have 52 corporals. And “Corporal Lemmas” was not a corporal at all.
For some years, academics have used genealogy sites for source materials. That is good. It is not good, however, when they accept material at face value, without a critical examination of what they are using.
Today’s “test” is a case in point.
Researcher Bev Wright has a legal background. Now that she’s pursuing history, she wonders how the practices of one field applies to the other:
Last week, we explored the risks of trusting family tradition. First we looked at the reasons why problems exist. Then we offered a game plan to track those traditions and test their validity.
The “four cornerstones” of genealogy serve us well in our quests to find the truth about a family tradition:
Our recent Facebook discussion of the Wayback Machine triggered the inevitable question: “Just how DO we cite that source?”
Trust. That’s such a comforting word. It relieves so much stress. It lifts the burden of being always vigilant, the angst of worry whether something or someone will betray you, or the fear of making a wrong decision.
In historical research, the reality we deal with is 183 degrees different from the rose garden we’d prefer to work and live in. For us, trust is naïve. Trust creates problems of its own. Today’s three images demonstrate that, using an 1800 census record from Greenville County, SC.