From its own "roots" in 1975, the journal Rhode Island Roots has benefitted from a long series of excellent researchers with a focus on Rhode Island. Both experienced authors and those new to article submission are invited to work with the editor to permanently capture a story from their ancestry, a significant case study, a transcription of Rhode Island records, or even something as simple as a family bible record, diary entries, or letters. Some articles address a mystery, for instance, distinguishing between same-named, same-place men or women or pinning down a wife's family. 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.
Although most genealogists have the raw material in their files for a compiled genealogy article which follows a Rhode Island family for two or three generations, 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 the formatting necessary to end an article with a “genealogical summary” that concisely lays out each generation. 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.
In practice, any article, however long or short, is the story of the long-ago lives detailed within it. It is not our story as authors, or the story of our quest, or a source-by-source walk. If we found unusual sources, unexpected connections, or random “genealogy serendipity,” we let the story, usually in rough chronological order, present those sources in the footnotes where the reader will find them. Authors may make use of an introductory paragraph to capture the reader’s interest and perhaps hint at their own motivation or their exciting genealogical finds. Shorter transcription articles may only require a few sentences to explain the document or collection.
The ”Writing for Rhode Island Roots” article listed in the side column attempts to answer common questions about formatting. In practice, articles are likely to experience significant back-and-forth evolution as the author and editor correspond.
As Rhode Island Roots enters its fiftieth year, please consider joining the long line of your peers who have preserved their findings on its pages. While I am a new editor for this journal, I am in close contact with the legendary Cherry Bamberg, who has stepped down from full-time editing as of the 2024 issues.