You Can’t Unknow Things

I like lists.

Today’s List – Random Stuff

  • Start the year right.
  • You can’t unknow things.
  • Is gobbledegook a word?


January 1 and it is time to start the New Year right. For all kinds of reasons I didn’t post last year even though I had all kinds of ideas for things to write about. My resolution is to post consistently this year. My goal is that “consistently” be more than once a year.

So here goes. You can’t unknow things. It may apply in any number of areas, but for me, it absolutely applies for how I do my genealogy research and VERY specifically how I regard and treat source information. That means CITATIONS.

A few years ago, when I was blissfully doing just about all of my research on and (and they are wonderful), I didn’t know or remember much about doing citations. They were intimidating and if I read one, it seemed like a whole lot of gobbledygook. I know differently now. I love that and I hate that. And yep, gobbledygook is a word. I checked.

The BU course was my ice water introduction to understanding and writing citations as well as the beginning of my understanding of how valuable and important they are. I am on Lesson 13 of the NGS Course. This too has reinforced my understanding of the need for, how to read and how to write citations.

I feel good now when I need to write the source information for something and I take out my Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills and know how to use it. I’ve traveled far. I probably still make mistakes, but I am pretty certain most people could understand what my source is enough to evaluate and find it again if they needed to. They would also know who the heck I am talking about no matter how far in the future they read it.

So what is the problem then? Well….here is the can’t unknow it part. What is necessary or required when using professional standards for Genealogy seems like overkill when you are just doing it for fun. For me, I know that I should always include my name, date, who the information is to and who/what the topic is. I feel a little silly that I am going to do that when I do research for my husband, but if he ever wants to share it or use it, those things are important. If he gives a piece of paper with information on it to someone in the future and it is lacking those things, how can they know what they are reading? If I don’t put the sources, how can they evaluate the information? How can they follow my research if they want to?

Even when I feel a bit silly and even when I know the person I am giving research to doesn’t really care about the Author, Title, Publisher or Locator, I know they need it.

Thanks to courses, conferences and newsletters, I know what professional standards are. I try to apply them to all the work I do. I can’t unknow their value.

So if you ask me to look something up, and I give you a memo, maybe you can understand why. I know you know who I am and who you are. But someone reading it next month or next year or any number of years will be glad I didn’t unknow what to do.

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