Guidelines for Submitting Rhode Island Roots Articles
Rhode Island Roots began its existence in late 1975 as a simple seven-page document, prepared, typed, copied, and stapled together by members of Rhode Island Genealogical Society. Over the years it has become longer and more sophisticated in style, but the journal is open both to genealogical scholars and newcomers to this type of writing. This document has been prepared to help our many contributors with the growing complexity of writing for Roots. All the formatting should not deter the determined researcher from sharing discoveries with the genealogical community. Rhode Island Roots has changed less than some genealogical journals, trading the complexity of some footnoting standards for more room for text. As in all genealogical journals the editor usually does a great deal of formatting for consistency within issues.
An article of genealogical interest may be as simple as a brief transcription of a Bible record or a family letter. In such cases the writer needs only the ability to read the document accurately, the patience to copy it carefully, and the skill to write a sentence or two of introduction. Beyond such basic but important work, the editor looks for articles that set out to solve a specific mystery, such as the identity of a second wife or distinctions between two men of the same name in the same town. These analytical articles require considerable research and writing skills: not only must the author draw a plausible conclusion based on the evidence, but he or she must be able to explain it completely and convincingly to the readers.
What genealogists all aspire to, secretly or otherwise, is the complex artform called a compiled genealogy in which a family is traced for two or three generations, and that is the focus of this article. Although most genealogists have the raw material for such an article in their files, turning it into a finished piece is a demanding process. One needs all the skills required by simpler articles as well as a fanatical commitment to documentation and a mastery of arcane formatting. The essential requirement for publication in Roots is thorough, honest research. Without this quality, no amount of formatting or good prose style, however estimable, will result in the acceptance of an article. While some authors may prefer charts or spreadsheets, these generally do not fit easily on the 9 x 6 in. pages of Rhode Island Roots.
No one workshop or handout can give writers a good command of English or the fundamentals of genealogical research or mastery of Microsoft Word, never mind all three. A more manageable goal is to demystify the formatting and the documentation in compiled genealogies. The idea is not to train writers who can turn in perfectly polished articles, but rather to give potential contributors a place to look for answers to their questions. In actual practice it usually requires a lively email correspondence between author and editor before all these matters are completed for any given article. As new editorship comes into place in 2024, styles will surely evolve, but here are the hints for now.
Cherry Fletcher Bamberg FASG
5 January 2024
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