So now that I have sources for 53.39% of the quotes in the database, how come when I got to Amy Tan (born on this day in 1952, she’ll be the theme for today’s mailing) I only had sources for 12 out of 77 quotes? Easy, I entered most of those quotes before I got serious about entering sources. However, it wasn’t a real disaster, most of the quotes were from one of her five books or the extensive interview with Academy of Achievement when she was inducted there in 1997.
The first step is always to turn to one of my go-to sources for sourced quotes. For female authors, this is normally Rosalie Maggio’s excellent (i.e. comprehensive and mostly-sourced) Quotations by Women site. With Rosalie’s blessing, I calmly copied a number of the Amy Tan entries she had, formatted them to fit my structure, checked for dupes, and added them. How do I get away with this? Rosalie and I have slightly different standards for source citations, so after copying them I tend to research a good number of them. For example, if a quote is from the New York Times, Rosalie normally only has the year (a limitation of the book-oriented database structure behind her site) whereas I want the author’s name, the title of the article, and the exact date. So I frequently come up with more detailed sources, and every addition or correction I turn up goes into a weekly e-mail to Rosalie. Also, she has my permission to snag anything she likes from my site.
Once those are merged, I then start researching everything that’s left. In this case, two quotes were valuable additions to the site, but they weren’t from Tan. One was from Henry David Thoreau, the other from Edward Sapir. The final tally? Ninety-four quotes, only three of which are unsourced. And now the total is 53.47% sourced.