Use better sight to cite a site

It’s been awhile, but I’m back.

In my newest endeavor to improve my skills, I have started writing a monthly local history column for the Plankinton weekly newspaper, The South Dakota Mail. As soon as I clean up the citations for each story, I’ll start posting the articles on this site.

This week I learned a good lesson in double checking the numbers I’m citing – not just the numbers, but what they represent. In a story about farming in 1915, I erroneously reported that cows were selling for $8.28 per pound. A reader immediately noticed that price was way too high, even for today. The correct way to quote that is $8.28 per hundred weight. The column from which I pulled that number is labeled ‘cwt’.

I’m not sure I even saw those units, probably just assumed it was pounds. Although four people proofed this, I would have been smart to ask a farmer to do a sanity check – or followed through on an earlier idea to compare 1915 prices to today’s prices. That would have tipped me off and saved me embarrassment.

Good lesson. Carefully copy numbers and units of measure and then double proof before I publish.

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About RPJHistories

Graduate Student UW Milwaukee, studying Public History. Background in computer science, non-profit management, politics. Interested in Midwest history and using digital tools to produce and share historical information.
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