Mastering Genealogical Documentation Study Group
Chapter 12 – Identifying Offline Publishers and Repositories
Jones, Thomas W. " Identifying Offline Publishers and Repositories." In Mastering Genealogical Documentation, 125-133. Arlington, VA: National Genealogical Society, 2017.
This week’s chapter focuses on the where question – identifying publishers for offline sources and repositories of unpublished works. The section on provenance was very helpful to me, as I have not used that very often, if ever, in my citations.
The provenance of a record refers to explaining who originally owned a record and how it got to the person who now owns it. Discussing a record’s provenance isn’t required for every source, but it is helpful for unique documents in private ownership. The discussion is included as a brief comment after the citation, and helps other researchers evaluate how reliable the information is for answering the research question.
In our homework for Chapter 6, I discussed my father’s ordination certificate, which he received in 1972. If I cite this when writing about my father, I could include an explanation about how I received the document, or its chain of custody:
Certificate received by John A. Beem in 1972, and filed in personal papers by his wife, Betty A. Beem. Received by the researcher, the daughter of John & Betty, from Betty in 2015.
Dr. Jones mentions that often researchers use provenance to locate an original record and then cite that original record, with no need to include a discussion of provenance in the citation. However, in the case of my father’s ordination certificate, this is the original record and very likely, the only copy. A discussion of the provenance would lend more credibility to the authenticity of the evidence.
My revised citation would now read as follows:
Christian and Missionary Alliance, Certificate of Ordination for John A. Beem, signed by Rev. Keith M. Bailey, committee chair, dated 15 Feb 1972; privately held by Marceline Beem, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Melrose, Florida, 2015. Certificate received by John A. Beem in 1972, and filed in personal papers by his wife, Betty A. Beem. Received by the researcher, the daughter of John & Betty, from Betty in 2015.
For an explanation of how I crafted the citation itself, refer back to the Chapter 6 homework.