Richardson references, possibly redundant?

+6 votes
I am wondering (as I work on my Magna Carta "trails"), is it necessary, or even a good thing, to reference Magna Carta Ancestry, Royal Ancestry, and Plantagenet Ancestry as separate references.  They are largely copies of each other - some royal details added here and there, though not many.  What has been considered about this?
in Policy and Style by Robin Anderson G2G6 Mach 4 (44.2k points)
Thank you for your answers, Troy, Joe, Jack, C. Mackinnon.  I guess it seems to me that having three separate references that are essentially one source gives a false sense that the info has been independently verified, or is independently verifiable.  Which bothers me a bit.  

I'll use Royal Ancestry for primary/new work on profiles.  Maybe will add MCA or PA when it seems useful.  (have access to all three).

Ha! I've been putting 'See also:' all over the place.  Am glad to change to 'Source list:'

Hi Robin! Chiming in late here - you've already had tons of good answers. Frequently when you see multiple references to the three different Richardson works, it's because the profile was copied in or based on Marlyn Lewis's database ("Our Royal, Titled, Noble, and Commoner Ancestors"). The information cited from that database needs to be confirmed against the source, as the database's footnote style piles them all at the end of a sentence and it may be that the only thing from Richardson is the name.* I tend to use only Royal Ancestry & Magna Carta Ancestry, although I don't delete the Plantagenet Ancestry citations when they're listed (sometimes the Google Books copy of MCA doesn't show a page that the PA copy does).

 * See the list of sources in the Magna Carta Project's Checklist - the need to check Lewis is mentioned there. Also from that page:

  • Richardson's Royal Ancestry
  • Richardson's Magna Carta Ancestry (the two works have much the same information, but Royal Ancestry is more recent [2013] and Magna Carta Ancestry is specific to the project as well as Google Books having a copy available in snippit view online)

3 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer

"one source gives a false sense that the info has been independently verified, or is , or is independently verifiable.  Which bothers me a bit." absolutely agree with you, Robin. It's not a primary source either, his books would be considered a tertiary source. I would suggest using actual viewable records as well. 

by C Anonymous G2G6 Mach 1 (12.7k points)
selected by Robin Anderson
Thank you, Private Gervais.  People don't seem to relate to the redundancy point I was trying to make.  Sourcing two or three works that are actually one source doesn't seem quite right.  

I have no beef with Doug, in fact am in awe of his work and results.  I just want to be honest about what we know and what we don't.

Secondly,I have seen what seems to be excellent research that disagrees with Doug, quite fairly (and which he seems to acknowledge fairly, but not necessarily to incorporate into his work).  

About 'original records,' I have looked at records from the 14th to 16th Centuries.  Without specialized training it's probably dangerous to try to interpret them on a detailed level, though viewing them can be helpful.

I had Magna Carta Ancestry before Royal Ancestry was published, and since the scope in Royal Ancestry is larger, I have that now too. A statement that Richardson's books are tertiary made me stop and look at the books' introduction.

Quoting from the Introduction to both MCA and RA - "DOCUMENTATION:  an effort has been made to provide documentation for each generation found in the book. The sources cited are to primary sources, both in original form and published abstracts, as well as secondary sources. The quality and specificity of the documentation in published secondary sources varies widely. Every effort has been made to eliminate errors... Where possible, information from published heraldic visitations is quoted directly from the published transcripts of such records."

A major reason that Richardson's work is so valuable is that he uses primary sources where available. His work would have less significance if it were only a tertiary source.

Liz, Jack and Joe, James, Jillaine and Troy have already explained the many reasons we need to leave references to all of Richardson's works on a profile.

I would like to emphasize a point:

WikiTree is an inclusive community. We make an effort to quote sources that are as widely available as possible, to encourage member's further research.

+8 votes
Royal Ancestry is the most recent, so if you've invested $200 in a set, as I did, then that's the best Richardson resource.  But I don't think it's available online, while the others can be accessed online.

So if I'm doing a profile from scratch, I certainly would use Royal Ancestry and there's no need to use the others.  But if I'm adding to someone else's work, and they've already used Magna Carta Ancestry or Plantagenet Ancestry for their in-line citations, I don't see any need to re-do their work, and replace those in-line citations with Royal Ancestry inline citations.  But anything new I add would use the newest and best resource that I have.

Since not everyone has access to Royal Ancestry, there does seem to me some benefit to retaining on the profile a link with page numbers to the material from Magna Carta Ancestry or Plantagenet Ancestry, so that others can go beyond WikiTree to the source work;  they may be exploring and seeking to document a related profile and this may be of help.
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (478k points)
Yeah I agree. I would even reference all of them being a preference. Because different versions could be given a different narrative on a family,and it would just help too keep that as a habit too cite each version if you think it's applicable too the profile. And could prove useful too some researchers.
But when those Richardson sources are not referenced from the bio and do not state what is said do they serve any purpose at all when other sources are available?
No not in that case. Only if it does cite the info for the profile.

Magna Carta Ancestry 2nd ed. and Plantagenet Ancestry 2nd ed. are available in Google Books as a preview, with a good chunk pages fully visible. I would prefer those to Royal Ancestry links since you can actually look at the pages.

What I find very strange about Royal Ancestry is he did not register the copyright in the US.

+9 votes

Often Royal Ancestry is an exact copy of Magna Carta Ancestry, but not always.  Things do change and Doug will add details and sources to his write ups.

Because these books are not readily available to everyone, I do think there is some value to leaving both references on a profile.  I would use the most recent source that you are actually using (Royal Ancestry), and move the MCA or PA references to the "Source list."

PS:  I can't stand the term "See also" and never use it.  I prefer the much more accurate term "Source list" which is also the term used by Evidence Explained.

by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (265k points)
I agree with Joe Cochoit.  Each source can be worded differently or  have more or less information. I think they each should be listed under sources. A lot may be redundant but even if a small percentage shows some new information it is valuable. Even if not cited in the Biography section, I feel  that that Douglas Richardson should stand alone under sources along with volume and page numbers.  It shows that a credible  source written by someone who is expert in this field has validated their royal and noble lineage.
A Source List is distinct from "See also:". See also refers to other references that are not cited in the narrative. A Source List is greater publishing detail about a particular source that IS cited. At least that's my understanding.  

In the current wikitree style guide recommendations, we don't have a source list; we cite the full source the first time-- so that with one click, people get to the most information about the source the first time it is referenced. That was the intent of the current style guide for sources.

There are variations for how people cite the same source the second time.

Everything that you put into “See also” can be put into the “Source list” – it doesn’t have to be just references used as in-line citations.  The use and recommendations for “See also” is confusing, inaccurate, and doesn’t encompass everything it is used for.  You may remember that I wrote this G2G post regarding Sources Help Pages soon after I joined wikitree.  I still feel the same way – “See also” a bad term which is poorly explained.

The “Source list” is the same thing as a “Bibliography” or a “Works cited” section.  Any of these three terms are vastly better than "See also" - this section of the sources is a Source list, Bibliography or Works cited.  We essentially have two different kinds of sources.  We have an inline references section for "Footnotes and citations" created by </references>, and we have standalone sources (the Source list, Bibliography or Works cited).

I prefer the broad term 'Source list' as bibliography implies a list of books and Works Cited implies published works when sources on WikiTree are much more varied (grandma's memories).

I actually label these headings.  Footnotes and citation:  and Source list:  Note these are labels and not headings  (no ===Source list === ).

Here are some recent examples: John Johnson George Bunker Joseph Cochoit 

If you always put full and complete sources as in-line citations then you probably don’t need a separate “Source list” section.  However, in highly sourced profiles this can make the edit page extremely difficult to read, understand and edit.

Using both the Footnotes and citations:  and Source list: together allows you to get a bit more sophisticated with your sources by using Short citations for the inline references which then refer to the complete references in the Source list.  For example:

Footnotes and citations:  

  1. Anderson, page 485.
  2. Cal. of IPM, vol. 19. (1992): pages 292-293.

Source list: 

  • Anderson, Robert Charles. ''Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635'', volume I: A–B. (Boston: NEHGS, 1999): 483-487, biography of George Bunker. 
  • Great Britain, J.L. Kirby ed. Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. 19, 6-14 Henry IV:1405-1413. (London, 1992): pages 292-293, IPMs of Nicholas de Wodehull. Available at British History Online and Institute of Historical Researchwebsites.

Sorry for the long answer, the Sources Style Guide is a real pet peeve.

I'm aware that it is for you, Joe. But we've hijacked a different thread here. We should probably take this elsewhere.

perhaps back to your original post.

sorry to continue the hijack, but... Joe - I think "Source list:" does imply sources used to build the bio, not any/all of interest, and that there should be a third heading - '''See also:''' - for those sources that were not used in building the bio. For example, if there were pertinent Wikipedia articles or if Lewis's database has an entry for the person but wasn't used to build the bio. I could also see the benefit of listing sources in the "See also" section that weren't used because they were wrong (e.g., FabPedigree & TudorPlace come to mind), with a note as to why.

I have encountered a wide variety of such usage as you describe under == Sources == and I'm almost persuaded that it may be time to propose a change to the guidelines (which say <references /> follows immediately below == Sources ==) so that such use is standardized. Something like "Two or three bold subheadings (see Descriptions, below) may be added under Sources (but not just one), giving users the following four options for that section of the profile's text:


== Sources ==
<references />
* ...


== Sources ==
'''Footnotes and citations:'''
<references />

'''Source list:'''
* ...


== Sources ==
'''Footnotes and citations:'''
<references />

'''See also:'''
* ...


== Sources ==
'''Footnotes and citations:'''
<references />

'''Source list:'''
* ...

'''See also:'''
* ...

: Footnotes and citations: self-explanatory
: Source list: Full citations for inline references cited in the previous section. Source list generally includes only works used to build the biography.
: See also: Full citations for additional references that may be found for or provide more information about the person but which were not used to build the biography. This section can also include sources listed with a caution (for example, when the person's entry in FindAGrave or FabPedigree is known to have inaccuracies).

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