Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to Properly Cite This Blog and Other Websites

The Brouwer Genealogy Database website was first placed online on July 29, 2008. At the same time I started a companion blog site using the now defunct "Mobile Me" service from Apple. That original blog was replaced by this current blog beginning on July 6, 2011. As the websites approach their fifth anniversary of continuous operation, I believe I am long overdue in addressing just how material from the websites can be used and should be cited.

Over the years I have found numerous instances where content that I placed online has been used by others on either personal websites, blogs or in "Family Trees" constructed at websites such as In many of these instances the material has been adequately cited so that readers are made aware that the material originated at the Brouwer Genealogy Database website or this blog site, or one of the other Database websites I've placed online (New England Brewers, Drake, Alice Freeman, Cestari, Drake of Devonshire). Let me also make it perfectly clear that I have no qualms with others using the material. If I did I would not have placed it online to begin with. Instead I would have hoarded it at home in my computer files or in physical files where it would be of use to no one but me. But I simply do not see the purpose in doing that. For some background and guidance on how to use the Brouwer Genealogy Database (and the other websites) please see "About the Brouwer Genealogy Database" which I originally placed online in 2008. In this document I do mention that while free, non-commercial use of the material is granted, I do expect that when material is used it is properly cited. I am coming back to this now because I have found a few instances where certain persons have simply copied entries from the BGD website, source citations and all, and pasted them to their own blog pages, websites or Family Trees, living their readers with the impression that the material was generated by themselves. That's just not right.

As mentioned, anyone is free to use the material found these associated websites, provided it is for non-commercial use, but whether you use it in an altered format, or if you simply "copy and paste," I would ask that you please cite the material properly. While there are a number of variations on the correct "styles" (Chicago Manual of Style, being just one) on how to create a citation, I'll simply demonstrate one. If, for example, you wished to cite the blog post regarding the Family of Adam Brouwer and Magdalena Verdon, a citation could appear like this:

Chester, Chris, "The Family of Adam Brouwer and Magdalena Verdon." Brouwer Genealogy. June 1, 2012. (If you like, you could also include the date you accessed the blog page).

For info or entries from the Brouwer Genealogy Database (example):
Adam Brouwer, "Brouwer Genealogy Database." Accessed May 30, 2012.
For any specific information you then could mention the sources that I cited, example: (the above citation) followed by: citing Hoffman, William J., "Brouwer Beginnings," The American Genealogist, vol. 23 (1947): page 193.

Of course, you could also simply use a link back to the original page (The Family of Adam Brouwer and Magdalena Verdon, for example). A proper citation, however, would add more credibility to your own work, and frankly is just the right thing to do.*

Sources for this post:
The Chicago Manual of Style Online. "Chicago Style Citation Quick Guide." Accessed May 30, 2012.

Fenner, Martin, "How to formerly cite a blog post." Goobedygook. July 21, 2011.

*One note of caution. While the url for the main page of the Brouwer Genealogy Database will remain constant, the url's that would take one to any single individual profile found on the website will change each time that I update the database. I would therefore advise users to cite the url for the main page rather than for any individual pages on which a profile appears.

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