Thursday, January 10, 2008


The image above is of the Deaths page from the Family Records
section of the Arvilla Ames West bible. I’m posting this page
because it’s the most easily readable one of the four records
pages and because it also shows the change of handwriting in
the entries.

So I have these images with important family genealogy
information on them from a family bible. How do I cite this

In her “Evidence: Citation and Analysis for the Family
Historian” (1) , Elizabeth Shown Mills gives some criteria to
establish the credibility of information recorded in a family bible.
Paraphrasing her, they include:

What is the bible’s publication date, and does it match the date
of the first event recorded, or has someone entered events that
occurred before the bible was published?

The bible was published in 1859, and while there are earlier
events recorded, they are the birth dates of the owner, Arvilla
Ames West and her husband, John Cutter West and their
children. This would be logical for a wife to make in
recording her family’s history in a newly aquired bible.

Are the ink and handwriting for entries the same throughout,
which would indicate that they were all entered at the same
time, or are the entries made with different style or quality of
handwriting (which would mean they might have been written
by several writers or by one over the course of their lifetime)?

As the image above shows, entries were made by more than one
person, starting about 1900. Arvilla Ames West was 90 years old
then and the entry for Clarinda B.(ritton)Goodwin’s death in
1900 is in a different hand than the previous entries.

Since I haven’t seen the actual pages I can’t comment on the ink
used on the entries. But I had no doubt as to the authenticity of
the bible to begin with. I wanted to show how it can be proven
to someone else.

So, how to cite the source?
Back to Evidence! The example given is for a Family Bible
with provenance (p65) but while I know it was Arvilla’s
in 1859 and I know who had it before they passed it on to
Aunt Dot, there is still a question on who had it in between
the two. I think it was Arvilla’s eldest daughter, Ann Matilda
West Marston, but I need to confirm that. So, without
provenance, my citation for the above image would be (I think):

Image File “Arvilla Ames West Bible Deaths" scanned
1/10/2008 by William West from a photoimage provided by
Dorothy____ in December 2007 of the Arvilla Ames West
Bible, “The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ” (New York: American Bible Society, 1859) original
owned in 2007 by Dorothy ___. Image has been retouched by
West but he attests that no information has been altered.”

Phew! That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? I left my Aunt’s last name
blank here for reasons of her privacy. And when I have the exact
provenance established I’ll post an update.

Of course, since it’s a bible it would have to be divine provenance!

Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the
Family Historian
, 17th printing (Baltimore: Genealogical
Publishing Company, 2007) p.54


Terry Thornton said...

Bill, That citation is a mouthful!

Bill West said...

Yep, I won't be saying THAT
five times real fast, I can tell you!