Do You Read The Footnotes First? Or Last? Or Not At All?

I read the footnotes first.  Here are the sources used for the piece.  Here are the discrepancies discussed.  Here are the acknowledgments to other genealogists and scholars for contributions  made to the piece.  Here you will find the honest expressions of frustration with the evidence or lack of it.

I always study the footnotes.  And on occasion I photocopy them–in part or whole for a more detailed study later.  The footnotes convince me that I need a personal copy of the work.  And they enable me to trust the conclusions that the author comes to.

This mini-sode is my recommendation that you also consider reading the footnotes first.  And for the reasons I have outlined.

The preparation of my classes for the Family History (formerly My Ancestors Research Retreat, 27 Oct -1 Nov 2008 is well underway.    And as I have examined some new studies I want to highlight for the students who attend, I have had the chance to read the footnotes first.

A bibliography is a useful tool because it lists the full titles and facts of publication for the major works available on the subject.  Bibliographies are often padded, however, with titles that apply to the subject and were not necessarily consulted by the author.

A bibliography is no replacement for footnotes.  And with full, chatty footnotes, a bibliography may not be needed if the sources are cited in full.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  My next posts will come from the Research Retreat and the new sources I discover during that event.

PPS  You really would benefit by attending one of these events–check for up-coming events and to register for the next Research Retreat staged to assist you at the Family History Library, Salt Lake City UT./

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