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jamieay

Can Census Source "Lumps" be too big?

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I need to clean up my project and think I should start by cleaning up my sources. I think I must be a "lumper", since I'm tempted to condense my census sources to year & Country, and maybe province/state, and include the more specific details (Province/State?, County, film #...) in the citation details. But in my reading, it looks like the largest lumps people tend to make is a source entry for each microfilm or county. I am accessing my census info from the federal source (as opposed to ancestry or familysearch).

Anybody have any words of caution before I start creating source titles such as "Census of 1851, Canada East" from Library & Archives Canada (url), and relegating all other info to citation details?

Thanks so much!

Jamie

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This is how I have always recorded my U.S. Federal Census sources. Each source is based on the census year. All of the details are in the citation details. I have templates for the citation details so that they are consistent and would suggest that you do the same. Different census years have different templates based on the information recorded for the particular census year. 

Bottom line... I have no reservations about this method at all. It has served me well over the years.

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Awesome! Glad to hear someone much more experienced than I likes this idea! :) And it sounds like you even relegate State info to citation details?

I will definitely make myself templates as I go; thank you for mentioning it.

Thank you for your prompt reply, Jim! 

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Jamie,

I'll offer a different point of view. The issue I have with lumping census sources is when you output the data -- the more you put in the CD the longer the notes become, and I typically cite a given census record many times -- once for the Census tag, but then for Name, Relationship, Birth, and sometimes Occupation and Immigration Tags for every person in the household. When you print a report with citations every one of those tags gets the full details. Of course if you are already lumping census sources, how big you make the "lumps" is only a matter of degree as far as how long the notes get.

 

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I appreciate your thoughts, Terry. If at the output form tab of the source definition screen you set ibid to 'requires same source and CD,' does this not limit the repetition of citations in reports?

Thanks Terry!

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I am not Terry, but no, it does not limit the repetition of citations, you get the same "number" of citations.  But it just makes sure there is citation detail instead of just the word "ibid".  For more on this see the section on Ibid in the Source Guide chapter of my on-line book here.

 

I don't disagree with Jim's "lumping", if it works for him that is great.  It would not work for me.  For USA I have one source record per county/microfilm. A county spanning multiple films is multiple source records. Multiple counties on the same film are multiple source records.  I have a whole chapter about recording Census data here, and my custom Source Template for census data is here.

 

Hope this gives you ideas,

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I know I have come to this party late, but I agree with Terry; though you might consider me an extreme lumper.  I try to keep in mind that purpose of a citation is to record where the data came from AND so that other researchers can seek out that same data (there are always transcription errors); replicate the data as scientists would say.  This requires two things; identification of the source (e.g. a specific book) and identifying where that source can be found (e.g a specific library).  In the case of a census record, finding it these days (post soundex) is rather simple online, but it is necessary to know things like the year, state, county, page number, etc.  I know that people have a variety of solutions to the lump-split problem, but I think it is important to keep in mind how the citation will be used by a reader.

I am a big splitter, in that I generate an separate source for each household; which means that there could be two or more sources on an individual census page.  I do this because I want to be able to go back and look at a specific bit of data, and not search through a collection of census records for a particular year,.  I have modified the census source to include:  head of household, location, record type, enumeration date], record info (page/sheet number and lines), page, microfilm film number, and the website I downloaded the census pager from (I always keep a jpg image of the census page or the repository where I found the microfilm.  I also add occasional notes; such as the hand-writing was hard to read or relatives residing close to each other.

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