Casefile Clues

11 February 2014

Sourcing on the Image

I'm probably not giving away any real "private information" by posting this as the information is pretty much common knowledge. I did remove the names of the others who were baptized on the same day as I was--so I'm only giving my own personal information in the image below.


Quite a few genealogists scan images as it is a great way to preserve information, particularly items that may be disintegrating and could eventually simply crumble away to dust. The original item here is not all that old, but it never hurts to preserve things when you can.

There's more to scanning than scanning. And there is more to this image than just the twenty-seven words related to me. There's data about where this clipping came from and how it came to be scanned.

There are ways that this metadata or source information can be included as a part of that file name. This is not a bad idea, but there is one potential problem, particularly for those who post such images to their websites, blogs, etc. If someone simply "copies" the image (or does a screen capture of the image), that other data won't be recorded no matter how meticulously it is recorded. The user will only have what is on the screen.

That's why this image includes a partial citation. However as I looked at the first image included in this blog post, I realized I need more. There are a few items that I should consider adding in addition to what is included in this image:

  • who converted the original image to digital format
  • when it was converted to digital format
  • how the item was obtained
This could have been done very briefly as shown below:

In scanning printed items, care should be taken to make it clear to the viewer what was the original scan and what was the actual printed material. In this case, using a white background for all the provenance would have been preferable than the way it was done. 

Including the source information  allows the user to easily copy it. It is important to remember that there is no guarantee that metadata included with the image will be carried over by newer programs if the image is read or utilized by someone in twenty or thirty years. If it's on the image, it's there. 

And it is certainly preferable to this:
Someone copying just that image really has no idea as to the source or anything--there is no date or location on this clipping at all. 

Are your images citation ready? Even though the citations on this item aren't complete, they at least let users know when and where it was created and who had a copy of it.

And that's better than nothing.