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The FERPA Watchdog: Holding the Government Accountable
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About

This site was established on February 6, 2012 and was created to present family historians with a simple way to cite genealogical sources. Previously, it has been nearly impossible to accurately and consistently cite the broad variety of materials, and other supporting evidence, relevant to documenting a family tree without spending countless hours trying to determine an appropriate way to do so. Even then, there simply were no standardized approaches that adequately addressed the problem.

Simple Citations is the creation of Jeff La Marca, Ph.D. who has pursued genealogy as a hobby since the 1970s. Indeed, he put up his first Internet web site that pertained mostly to his family history in the early days of the Internet, on January 11, 1996. He also haunts several other genealogy-related sites, particulary Find-a-grave and provides an example of Simple Citations on his RootsMagic site. Although he has always been concerned with citing sources and he ascribes to the belief that all genealogies are worthless without documentation, he finally gave up trying to do so reliably after attempting to adequately cite an obituary for which the newspaper, date, or author could not be determined. Although he was familiar with many other citation systems pertaining to genealogy, none addressed this issue. Furthermore, he had attempted to use Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained for approximately one year only to find her approach to be extraordinarily cumbersome and needlessly complex. In other words, her approach fails to address sources such as the obituary just described and attempting do so becomes a veritable nightmare.

To address the lack of standardization, while also recognizing that citing sources is critical to constructing a meaningful genealogy, he spent a few weeks examining a large variety of disparate sources that genealogists might come across. He examined common sources (i.e., censuses, vital records, books, etc.), as well as those that are unique to genealogical research (i.e., cemetery records, personal letters, old photos, etc.) and tried to isolate information that would be required to cite them consistently. Although the kinds of documentation found in genealogies is nearly infinite, the type of data required to document these sources is not. Indeed, It is possible to cite essentially everything, with a very limited set of descriptors. Once common factors that are shared by all sources were identified, he created Simple Citations for his own use, Since then, he has never come across an instance (at least not yet) where a source can not be cited quickly and easily. Furthermore, the approach is standardized and, therefore, allows others to also understand the information provided in each citation. This web site was created to assist family historians frustrated with other approaches, especially those that require excessive effort, to reliably identify and catalog their genealogical materials.

© 2013-2016 All rights reserved by Jeff La Marca, Ph.D.