Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Citation Principles: Websites are Like a Book

The Insider's Guide to Citations

Citations have two purposes: locate the source and indicate its strength. This series of articles explains what we must do to accomplish these purposes for genealogical sources.

 

Citation Principle: Treat Websites Like Books

Treat major websites like publications (which they are), and titled parts of websites—web pages and record collections—like titled parts of publications (which they are).1 For example,

     10. “Texas Deaths, 1890-1976,” database and digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 5 December 2009), search for Lyndon Baines Johnson, died 22 January 1973; death certificate 00340, Bexar County, Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics, Department of Health, Austin.

Book2 Web3 Web example4
Chapter author Item author  
Chapter title Item title “Texas Deaths, 1890-1976,”
  Item type database and digital images,
Book title Website title FamilySearch
Book editor Website producer  
Place of publication Place of publication (http://www.familysearch.org :
Publisher Publisher  
Publication year Publication or access date accessed 5 December 2009),
Page number Location within item search for Lyndon Baines Johnson, died 22 January 1973;
Source-of-the-source citation Source-of-the-source citation death certificate 00340, Bexar County, Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics, Department of Health, Austin.

Notice that several fields are missing in the web example: item author, website producer, and publisher. These are not specified because they are all “FamilySearch.” This leads to another citation principle.

Citation Principle: Don’t Be Redundant

Citations have two purposes: locate the source and indicate its strength. As we’ve seen, citations to derived sources require inclusion of source-of-the-source citations. This produces scary long citations. The last thing we want to do is make a citation any longer than is absolutely necessary. To that end, avoid redundancy. We saw several common redundancies in the example above:

  • If a website and an item on the website have the same author/producer, drop the item author.
  • If a website title includes the name of the website producer, don’t redundantly specify the producer.
  • Gone are the days when you had to be a professional publisher to publish. Websites are self published and don’t require redundant specification of a publisher.
  • Drop information from the source-of-the-source citation when already specified. For example, Lyndon Baines Johnson’s name and death date have been dropped from the source-of-the-source citation in the previous example.

 


Sources

     1.  Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 1st ed., PDF images (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007), 57-8, 127.

     2. The Chicago Manual of Style 15th ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003; CD-ROM version 1.2.3), 662. Mills, Evidence Explained, 647.

     3. I’ve shown website title and producer in the same order as book title and editor. Mills recommends listing website producer before website title. See Evidence Explained, 94, 126-8. Also see Elizabeth Shown Mills, QuickSheet : Citing Online Historical Resources : Evidence! Explained, 1st rev. ed. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007), 1.

     4.  Robert Raymond, “Citing Online Sources,” research wiki article, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : dated 26 June 2011, 00:35 UTC), the research wiki is in the Learn section of the website.

3 comments:

  1. Hi there. I've been trying to sort out citations for the historical collections. For my personal, working file, I'd set up the first reference notes as below. (I didn't use the "database" err... data--I "saw" and worked with the digital image.)

    Texas Department of Health, death certificate, no 00340, Lyndon Baines Johnson, d. 22 Jan 1973, San Antonio International Airport; digital image, _FamilySearch_ (https//www.familysearch.org : accessed 6 July 2011), viewed as collection, "Texas Deaths, 1890-1976," cites FHL film 2242245 [Death records v. 1-3 cert. nos. 1-1300 Jan. 1973, Andrews County - Dallas County, FHL US/CAN Film 2242245 Items 6 - 8].

    I consulted EE (2007), p. 47, 53, and especially 54-57 ("FHL Basic Rule," "FHL Film Numbers ...," "FHL Film of Unpublished Records," "FHL Item Numbers").

    Again for personal use, I'm warming up to citing the collection in the bibliography entry as below:

    "Texas Deaths, 1890-1976." Database and digital images. _FamilySearch_. https://www.familysearch.org : 2011.

    As far as bloated citations ... my working file citations are bloated, especially if I'm new to a collection, new to the research about an individual or if I found the image hard to find, read or interpret.

    Love the series.

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  2. Ooo. Bear editing ...

    Texas Department of Health, death certificate, no 00340, Lyndon Baines Johnson, d. 22 Jan 1973, Bexar County (San Antonio International Airport); digital image, _FamilySearch_ (https//www.familysearch.org : accessed 6 July 2011), viewed as collection, "Texas Deaths, 1890-1976," cites FHL film 2242245 [Death records v. 1-3 cert. nos. 1-1300 Jan. 1973, Andrews County - Dallas County, FHL US/CAN Film 2242245 Items 6 - 8].

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  3. I'm really getting the hang of citing sources & have taken it on as a challenge to come up with the best citations I can. I have a hit a doozie, though, and I am hoping you can help me.

    How about an Administrator's Receipt book that was transferred to Microfilm that was then transcribed by a volunteer & posted on a website??? I really love the person that took the time to do this for everyone, but, for the life of me, I can't figure out where all these pieces go in the citation.

    This is the final product... http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tnsmith/tngen/smithprobatecourt4.htm

    The microfilm is listed in the TSLA's archives (http://www.tn.gov/tsla/preservation/countymicro/smit.pdf) in the Probate Records (County or Chancery Court)section on page 8....

    Type of Record Vol Dates Roll Format
    Misc.Receipts, Administrators Nov 1854 - Jul 1877 38 35mm

    I have no idea what the original book was called.

    Any helped appreciated!

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