APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2005-07 > 1120333632
From: "pam eagleson" <>
Subject: RE: [APG] another citation question
Date: Sat, 2 Jul 2005 15:47:12 -0400
Thank you so very much for taking the time to explain and answer so
thoroughly. Most of it makes sense although I'm a little fuzzy between what
is an original record and then the link to the actual service card, which I
am assuming is not an original record although in some instances it is a
muster roll record.
From: Mills [mailto:]
Sent: Friday, July 01, 2005 8:45 AM
To: 'pam eagleson';
Subject: RE: [APG] another citation question
Ironically, you asked your question just as I was combing the web for a
reasonably clear-cut example of exactly the type of record you're inquiring
about. So I'm borrowing it and will use it to "think out loud here." But, of
course, that means I've got to first explain all the related thoughts I had
yesterday, last month, and the last five years so you have the context.
We all have a basic problem when we follow the recommended citations at
"this" archival site and "that" archival site. Each one has its own way of
doing things. When we follow those recommendations, we end up with a
hodgepodge of citations done in all sorts of ways. Even when a website or
journal says it is following a specific manual's style, it's often adapting.
For example, check out the HistoryCooperative website, where the major
history journals offer a digitized version of their publications. When you
download an article, the site will suggest how to cite it following "Chicago
Style." But if you check their recommendation against *The Chicago Manual
of Style,* you find some major differences.
On the other hand, we've *always* had a problem with in consistency between
different source types. The electronic world has just infinitely increased
the size of the stewpot!
Also as background, two of the things that I'm trying to do in this redo of
1. Work through (and ultimately explain) the logic of *why* each type of
source is cited the way it is.
2. Develop a "Software Style" (to offer as an alternative to "Traditional
Style") that will make it easier for everyone to (a) figure out what to
cite; and (b) enter their source data in whatever software they are using.
So, still thinking out loud here, I'll first walk you through the basics
I've been teaching in the Advanced Research Methodology, Interpretation and
Analysis Course at the Samford IGHR.
- Online sources are publications.
- They have the same core elements as printed publications.
A website is the online equivalent of a book. Thus, the basic elements are
- author (creator/owner of the website's content)
- title of the website
- type of item (roughly comparable to a book's edition or volume data)
- publication data -- i.e.,
Date= Date posted, updated, or accessed
- citation detail (page, section, paragraph, keywords, entry, etc.)
Websites that offer multiple items (databases, articles, etc.) are the
online equivalent of a book that has independent chapters by different
authors, and that identification usually comes before the name of the book
and general editor. Therefore, we start the citation with
- author/creator of item
- title of database or article
Of course, websites and web pages don't always give us all the detail we
need--but, then, books and articles don't always have all the identifying
data either. Articles frequently lack authors. Books frequently don't say
where or when published, etc. With websites we also may have to backtrack
through several prior pages to find as much of the needed detail as we can.
Amid all the different recommendations for electronic citations that we find
online and in umpteen style guides, one of the most frequent points on which
styles vary is in their treatment of the URL and the date(s). Many are no
longer using angle brackets to mark the beginning and end of the URLs
because that usage causes a problem when material is posted online. To HTML,
angle brackets mean something else. A review of several major style guides
leaves us with all this conflicting advice
- Use brackets for the URL; put nothing around download date.
- Use brackets for the URL; put parentheses around the download date.
- Don't use brackets, separate everything with commas.
- Don't use brackets, put a comma before URL; put parentheses
around date of posting/download.
In developing the Software Style for historical materials, I'm trying to not
only think of users who are confused but also the chore faced by software
programmers who (a) wrestle with all those nitpicking issues about brackets,
commas, parentheses, etc.; (b) need consistency to facilitate data transfer
from one program to another; and (c) would prefer not to have to develop 500
different templates for 500 types of records!
All points considered, the no-brainer approach to citing much of the website
material we use is that simple equation I started with
Website = online equivalent of a book.
On this premise, the elements you have to cite are these:
Database (item) author: Not specified; should be same as website author
Database title: "Soldiers Database: War of 1812--World War I"
Website author/owner/creator: Missouri Secretary of State
Website title: *Missouri State Archives* or, more fully ...
*Missouri State Archives: Where History Begins*
Item type: Database
(But since the title of the item identifies it as a
database, it would be redundant to repeat the
word in this field.)
Date: [No posting date, so use download date]
Citation detail:Entry for John W. Harper, Civil War, 7th Regiment
Provisional E.M.M., Co. D.
All of this would come together in a citation format that would fit into
most book templates:
SOURCE LIST ENTRY:
Missouri. Secretary of State. "Soldiers Database: War of 1812--
World War I." *Missouri State Archives.* http: //www.sos.mo.
FIRST (FULL) REFERENCE NOTE:
1. Missouri Secretary of State, "Soldiers' Database: War of
1812--World War I," *Missouri State Archives* (http:
//www.sos.mo.gov/archives/soldiers : accessed 1 July 2005), entry for John
W. Harper, Civil War, 7th Regt. Provisional E.M.M., Co. D.
SUBSEQUENT (SHORT) NOTE:
1. Missouri, "Soldiers' Database: War of 1812--World War I," entry for
John W. Harper, CW, 7th Regt. Provisional E. M. M., CO. D.
[Note that in the publication data, first note, where I use the traditional
colon after the place of publication (the URL), I've left an extra space
before the colon, in the fashion that library catalogers do. I'm doing that
to make a clean break between the URL and the punctuation that follows it,
given that the citation doesn't use an angle bracket to mark the end of the
There are a couple of noticeable differences, Pam, between the approach I've
taken above and the approaches you've experimented with.
URL is much shorter. When I entered your full URL in Explorer's address
box, it generated a message: "Processing Error. Could not search as
requested." It did this, apparently, because the full string you gave is
what is generated by the search process. To find the entry, we have to go
back to the Search page and fill in the search form. So I stopped the URL's
string at that point.
The two styles you experimented with treat the data as though they represent
an original record, in an original file or collection. However, what you
need to cite is just a database entry.
By comparison, the citation that you quote from the Archives example is for
an image copy of an actual original record, in an original file or
collection. For image copies of originals, yes, the Archives' advice is on
target: cite the original with added data identifying it as a digital image
from such-and-such a site.
Hope this helps!
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
*Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian*
*Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers,
Writers, Editors, Lecturers & Librarians*
*Isle of Canes* www.isleofcanes.com
"You'll never look at American History the Same Way Again"
---*Historical Novels Review"
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