memoir writers often recount events or present information (such as statistical data).

Does a memoir have to provide proof for the claims and sources for their information? And if not, why not?

When a 'memoir' writer veers into agenda and conjecture in knowledge areas that they dont personally 'memoir' and new policy initiatives based on such conjecture do they need to cite sources and include substantive references as endnotes?

  • A memoir is a personal written account, and should probably read as such... "so and so group of people are bad people... because this and that..." doesn't need a citation, it's just their personal view. A footnote can be used to describe something in the body of the text and doesn't necessarily have to do with cited works (although it could).
    – K Johnson
    Mar 22, 2018 at 4:23
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    – Secespitus
    Mar 22, 2018 at 8:37

2 Answers 2


A memoir is not a scientific or journalistic publication and therefore does not need to provide sources for its claims. Anyone can write anything they like, and there is no law against giving false data or lying.

If a US president writes in his memoirs that he sent the Marines to settle Mars and build a secret colony there, no court of law would convict him.

The only limit is libel. If anyone publishes any kind of information about any other person, they should better be able to prove the truth of their claim in case they are sued. Nevertheless, providing these sources in a memoir is not a requirement, especially since the sources usually would be other people or personal communications that aren't available to the readers anyway.


Do memoirs need to cite sources? You don't have to.

If you want people to take you seriously, then you should provide some kind of reference when you make certain assertions that can or will be disputed by someone else.

For example, if you say Colonel Thompson told you to shoot the president's dog, Colonel Thompson may dispute it. If you do not have an evidence, it's just your words against his. It's not exactly bad, but if you're trying to sway public opinions, you're not going to get far without evidence.

Similarly, if you were to assert that you have received bad advice that ended in disaster, you may want to inform the readers on who gave you the bad advice. Without the scapegoat, your readers may just think you're trying to push the blame on a nonexistent person. Then again, after you've pushed the blame on a certain John Smith, you may also want to have an evidence to show that you're not making things up.

However, in the most basic sense, you don't have to provide the source for your memoir. It's only really necessary if you're anticipating legal actions taken against you following the publishing of your memoir.

  • Ok in a ironic twist can i ask you to provide some references about when this was done by notable political figures, with a focus on how, in these cases, certain redacted or otherwise altered transcripts of personal campaign or tour related information were handled appropriately, in a way that left a permanent public accessible record, but protected the interests involved and essentially, was worth publishing a book. Mar 22, 2018 at 14:56

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