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Archiver > APG > 2009-04 > 1240528332

From: <>
Subject: Re: [APG] A Better Way to Cite Online Sources
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2009 18:12:12 -0500
References: <000001c9c438$44f35460$ced9fd20$@net><49F0E62E.9080001@reevesweb.com>
In-Reply-To: <49F0E62E.9080001@reevesweb.com>

Daniela (abstracting from comments she had made to a student), wrote:
>> This is your citation from Ancestry.com for the draft card for Willard
Grover Dimond:

>>>Ancestry.com: World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database
on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original
data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service
System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National
Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family
History Library microfilm

>> Here is the citation using Evidence Explained. The example I used was on
page 598 and I combined it with the QuickCheck Model on page 240 for digital
images found on online commercial sites:

>> "World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital images,
Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 28 March 2009), Willard
Grover Dimond, Registration Card No. 56, Draft Board 1, Lake County,
Indiana; citing World War I Selective Service Draft Registration Cards,
1917-1918, NARA microfilm publication M1509, 1503888.

Peggy wrote:
>In this example of source citations ... the correct answer is that neither
citation is correct!
>In the first example, there is a NARA microfilm group cited, but no Family
History roll number. It says there are 4,582 rolls of M-1509,
but according to the NARA catalog, there are 4,277 rolls. Why the
discrepancy? There is no specific roll number cited at all, either from
NARA or Family History Library.

>In the second example, which you say is correct, the NARA microfilm group
is cited, but it is left to the reader's interpretation as to
whether 1503888 is a NARA roll number (it isn't), or a Family History roll
number. If you're going to say it's NARA microfilm, then you need
to give a NARA roll number. Otherwise make it clear that it is NARA records
that are being viewed, but from Family History Library microfilm roll

To this, I'll add my own thoughts:

Peggy is correct. The problem here underscores the quicksand all of us
plunge into, head first, when we try to instruct others on source citation!
It also illustrates why Peggy and Daniela are both correct in saying 'no
software is going to figure out good citations.' Those quirks have a way of
tripping us up. Human beings, given the time, can figure out workarounds.
Computer software can't yet do that for every quirk.

First, to set the record straight about EE, the book and the subsequent
QuickSheet: Citing Ancestry.com Databases & Images (Baltimore: GPC, 2009)
actually demonstrate two ways of handling this particular "problem"--i.e.,
Ancestry's flawed "source data" for this collection of World War I draft
registration cards. Daniela chose to follow EE itself, where the reference
note model is as follows.

1. "World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital images,
_Ancestry.com_ (http://www.ancestrty.com : accessed 1 February 2007),
[specific ID of person, no., draft board, etc.]; citing _World War I
Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,_ NARA
microfilm publication M1509; ******no specific roll cited*****.

The new QuickSheet for Ancestry's records has this:

1. "World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital images,
_Ancestry.com_ (http://222.ancestry.com : accessed 22 January 2009),
[specific ID of person, no., draft board, etc.]; citing _World War I
Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,_National
Archives microfilm publication M1509, *****imaged from Family History
Library film roll 1684926*****.

The "problem" with Ancestry's "source data" is this: It identifies M1509 as
having 4,582 rolls; then it proceeds to identify the roll on which XYZ
appears as, say, 1503888 or 1684926. Obviously, a collection of 4,582 rolls
cannot have a roll numbered any higher than 4,582. Ancestry's "source data"
for this collection mixes peas and apples when it cites NARA film, using
FHL's unique cataloging numbers.

When faced with a problem of this type, a human researcher has to devise a
work around. EE and the Ancestry QuickSheet offer two approaches:

Simply say that Ancestry cites M1509 but does not say which roll on M150
carries that record.

Say that Ancestry cites M1509, but imaged it from FHL microfilm which uses a
different numbering scheme, and then cite the Ancestry number.

Mark, if you are reading this: How would a situation like this be handled by
the software?

These "problems" do exist in citations furnished by virtually all data
providers and repositories that supply what are purported to be "ready-made
citations"--even among those that supposedly follow the same citation guide.
The differences, of course, are generated by the humans who use the guide to
create their own interpretations of what that guide recommends.

Am I correct, Mark, in presuming that the software will simply capture
whatever citation the provider uses? Then it will still be up to users to
knowledgeably review what has been dumped into their research files and make
whatever corrections are needed?

If this is how the anticipated system works, then (obviously) some users
will make that review--after having made the effort to learn sound
principles of source citation for themselves. Others, won't. They'll simply
be happy to have someone else hand them something and say, "Here, use this."

Even so, if Mark succeeds in persuading data providers to offer thorough and
thoughtful citations and if Daniela succeeds in teaching her students to
learn the principles so they can determine whether or not a citation does
what it should do, then we'll all come out ahead.


Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
APG member, Tennessee

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