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 Post subject: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:21 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 11:16 am
Posts: 626
Hi All

I am involved in a discussion about footnotes, endnotes, or other ways of siting sources for a history of a RR book. Many railroad books do not have such citations. The Railroad Preservation Groups complain about not being taken seriously. Seems to me that if we claim something happened we should document what is our source for our position. The other argument I have heard is that RR book rarely document sources and most readers are not interested in sources. Is the lack of footnotes creating part of the dismissal of serous preservation by RR Groups by academics? Any thoughts?

Robby Peartree


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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:46 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
Posts: 2417
Robby,

I believe it is a serious problem. So many railroad books are plagued with errors and unsubstantiated claims that I have oft considered starting a website just for corrections. There are books in print for over 50 years (like the Locomotive Cyclopedia) that contain the same erroneous information edition after edition.

Of course, citing sources takes time and no one is getting rich off these books, so the shortcuts may be understandable.

Does it hold the movement back? Probably.

Rob


Robby Peartree wrote:
Hi All

I am involved in a discussion about footnotes, endnotes, or other ways of siting sources for a history of a RR book. Many railroad books do not have such citations. The Railroad Preservation Groups complain about not being taken seriously. Seems to me that if we claim something happened we should document what is our source for our position. The other argument I have heard is that RR book rarely document sources and most readers are not interested in sources. Is the lack of footnotes creating part of the dismissal of serous preservation by RR Groups by academics? Any thoughts?

Robby Peartree

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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:30 pm 
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Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 1:15 pm
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Location: Henderson Nevada
I am a trained historian with a degree in history...

We were trained that you include a trail back to your sources... via footnotes and a good bibliography/source notes... that was what made you a source of record... The tractability back to your research...

With that others could can trace your thoughts, which is what makes your research academic and therefore has value... Vs just rumor...

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Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City, Nevada
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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:02 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:52 pm
Posts: 914
Hi,

An item similar to this came up on the NDGF. it was about D&RG(W) SG/NG motive power http://ngdiscussion.net/phorum/read.php?1,327041,327041#msg-327041.

It took a bit of digging to find an error that was inserted to the book Locomotives of the Rio Grande between the first edition (1963) and the second edition (1983)

Basically, the first edition was correct about RGW class 75 being built as SG and my second edition had them as being built as NG was wrong. The other class in error was the first edition being correct class 46 being built as SG and the second edition showing it being built as 45" gauge.

I go back to what Dad first said to me and has been repeated many times since by many - transcribing something allows for errors in transcription. Do not transcribe something unless you are very sure of the need.

The only way to catch these are through the source materials.

As a personal experience came from writing the Gainesville Midland and her Sister Short Lines. I located Gainesville Jefferson and Southern (GJ&S) #1 in a locomotive builders data base. It was recorded as an 0-4-2T so I reported it as a possible forney style 0-4-2.

Someone wrote after the book was published and said the builder at the time recorded shop notes were not Whyte style as I had assumed. The original builder's slip which I had received as proof showed the builder started counting wheels from the cab forwards and so I actually had a 2-4-0 with 4-wheel tender (the "T"). Boy did I have mud on my face.

So footnotes and references are a valuable asset not only as giving credit but also to allow the verification of the sources to find accidental transcription errors.

Doug vV


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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:05 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1590
Location: Southern California
I read quite a bit of history and biographic books. Some use numbered endnotes and others identify sources by page number and a partial quote. In both cases, a footnote will at times be included to provide accessory information to the text. It seems the difference is if the book is more academic or for popular consumption.

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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:58 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5550
Location: southeastern USA
Hobby books and academic books are two different critters. Use what's necessary and appropriate for your desired audience.

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Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:21 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
Posts: 2528
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
As a trained historian with a graduate level degree in history, I feel that the inclusion of footnotes/endnotes and other material is dependent upon whom your audience is.

Any work of serious history needs references, period. End of story. However, just because you provide references doesn't mean that others will be able to find or have access to the resources you cite. For example, I noticed Klein's third volume on the history of the Union Pacific relied heavily on interviews he conducted. Unless Professor Klein has made those recordings or notes available through a library or archive, it will be difficult for that research to be of much use to others in the future.

In a similar vein, right before the merger with the N&W, the Southern put out a nice volume of the history of the company. The only problem is that none of it cited references. Interesting reading, but of no use whatsoever to a historian looking for good primary source material.

However, don't fall into the "It's footnoted, so thus it is properly researched!" trap. Just ask Michael Bellesiles and his rescinded Bancroft Award.

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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:46 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 11:16 am
Posts: 626
Most higher education writings requite source sitings. The sources are known and cited in this case but as a point of thought for me was the presentation of the hobby press and the resultant view by those not familiar with how the hobby press works. In writing a piece the audience can be wider than just fellow enthusiast but how do we ensure acceptance of such work. In research papers I have seen the cited material was critical. Why is it the hobby press does not push the same standard and perhaps change the standings of certain works.

Robby Peartree


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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:38 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5550
Location: southeastern USA
Because the audience for hobby books isn't academia, and is primarily interested in a colorful story and doesn't care about tracking down sources. Nice pictures is of more interest and importance. Look at Kinert's EARLY AMERICAN STEAM LOCOMOTIVES for a great example, or Ziel's TWILIGHT OF STEAM. Those books got me hooked - it wasn't until later that I got interested in seriously studying the history and then the academic books began to enter my collection. If I'd never gotten that serious, I'd still have stayed involved as a pleasant and rewarding hobby limiting my library to the hobby books exclusively.

The local diner makes great food, but doesn't make food (or charge for it) like Ruth's Chris. Go to eat at the place you like to eat, that fits your budget, and makes you happy. There's nothing wrong with it either way. I'm more interested in if the book I'm buying meets the expectations I have for it based on the kind of book I know it is before I buy it. I'd rather have a well made hobby book without footnotes and citations - like Beebe's - than a badly made print of somebody's dissertation with copious connective stuff and no good story to tell.

Did you ever notice that most information was published in a volume called Ibid? Still looking for it in used bookstores.........

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Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:39 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
If you don't cite your sources, all the work you did researching and writing your book dies with you.

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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:23 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
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Location: southeastern USA
Well, except for the book you left as the result of that work. It's up to you to decide how formal and academic to write it in the first place.

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Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:44 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:49 pm
Posts: 122
Location: San Jose, CA
I think that the use of notes depends on the situation. For many articles, you can cite sources newspaper style, e.g. "according to Mr. Smith, UP is a wonderful railroad to work for, however, Mr. Jones thought that the management style was authoritarian."

I'm working on a multi-decade project that has grown out of a magazine article from 1996. I've found it helpful to start footnoting things I wrote 20 years ago as it helps me keep things straight. Word processing software is quite helpful; you don't have to go through your notes and re-number notes as you add material.


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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:31 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 1083
There is a useful compromise in formatting notes and sources that is 'in between' formal footnoting/endnoting and just providing a bibliography or list of sources.

That is to provide a reference section by chapter and page, with sentences quoted in brief and then the correct reference(s) or source(s) for those statements following. Note that this approach does not prevent authors from inserting footnotes when they are needed to explain something important in context, or immediate, for the reader's convenience.

There is an alternative form of notation, which allows use of a bibliography directly in footnoting, which uses the author's name and publication date as shorthand. This is a good format for some forms of scientific work, and it has the great advantage that editing or pasteup does not change the organization of numbered footnoting. (It also gets rid of those references to Ibid. that no one seems to be able to find in Worldcat!) The problem is that these references can be highly distracting to readers who are not continuously concerned with demonstrable source integrity.

There might also be conventions for adding 'errata' when found, perhaps even as full 'errata pages' (as found in some later editions or when mistakes are identified after the plates were made). Nowadays these can be made up by individuals and even hosted online (as, for example, Jos Koopmans did with his book on locomotive front ends) which means that, subject to Preston Cook's note about 'anything on the Internet disappearing at any time', there's no need to print a long set of source references and discussions in the actual, expensive book in order to have it reasonably ready to hand (or to print off).

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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:34 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
I think some of the examples cited as defense for NOT footnoting or otherwise documenting your text are exceptions that prove the rule. The examples cited are collections of photos by the author and the text with the photos is often the author's own personal recollection. So, yes, there is no logical need for citations or footnotes. Otherwise, if you are writing a reference on some line or artifact using photos that are not yours and describing events you never witnessed, then yes, your reference list is a) evidence that you did not just make it up, and b) a guide to others who wish to research the topic further.

The most interesting and valuable books in my collection are those from George Hilton and my "Steamboats on the Western Rivers" by Louis Hunter. They are all educational, entertaining, and meticulously referenced.

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 Post subject: Re: Using/not using footnotes/endnotes in RR publications
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:52 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:07 pm
Posts: 147
Location: Utah
Dave wrote:
I'd rather have a well made hobby book without footnotes and citations - like Beebe's - than a badly made print of somebody's dissertation with copious connective stuff and no good story to tell.


Ironically, you proved the point of the original poster. Beebe had great stories to tell, yes, but guess what? He made most of them up. Beebe and Clegg's writings are more fiction than fact, and if they didn't completely make the story up, they embellished it with their own artistic flair.

Case in point, an article that they published in Trains Magazine about "an unnamed mountain railroad in Utah." The entire thing was false, a pack of lies Beebe made up to to interpret a single photograph they had found in the Denver Public Library. Contrary to what Beebe wrote, the railroad did own locomotives and did have a name (Wasatch & Jordan Valley) and did haul more than pleasure seekers in the canyons above Salt Lake.

They made their mark in the railroading community but it is not a mark that needs to be continued as we preserve and interpret history.

On the other hand, even if you cite sources, we have so many hard-headed know-it-alls in this hobby that if you dare suggest anything that contradicts their own reality then you might as well have never even written about it. A while ago I found evidence that as early as 1887 the narrow gauge Denver & Rio Grande Western track between Ogden and Salt Lake City was dual gauged "for the benefit of the Central Pacific", based on multiple newspaper entries. However, upon presenting this idea, multiple people took it upon themselves to discredit my entire work because "everybody knows" that the D&RGW wasn't standard gauged in Utah until 189o.

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