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Archiver > TMG > 2000-01 > 0948257212

From: "Mills" <>
Subject: Re: TMG-L: Repository Address
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 22:46:52 -0600

Pete Hill asked:
> >Now, my question. the [Repository Address] label shows the address
> >in the Bibliography in an order opposite to what feels comfortable.
> >For example, it shows my address as "USA, NC, Wake County,
> >Raleigh...". Is this the "way it is supposed to be" or is there a way
> >to reverse it? I can't find any reference to this in the documentation.

In response, one list member e-mailed me privately to remind me that I had
answered this for her, in response to her private query a year or so ago.
She looked up that answer and sent it back, so here it is . . . .

QUESTION: Why do genealogists arrange bibliography entries for unpublished
materials *by location (starting with largest place and working down to the
smallest)* when this is not specified -- or really addressed -- in the major
style manuals.

MLA [the Modern Language Association Handbook]
basically ignores everything that's unpublished. Exceptions are
examples for
(a) e-mail, letter, and interview--for which no places are given at
all, just names of individuals; and
(b) manuscripts with known authors--which are alphabetized in the
bibliography under the author's surname.

Turabian also basically ignores everything unpublished. Exceptions
(a) a couple of examples of manuscripts--one at National Archives
and one at Yale University--in which cases the format is: City,
State/District, Archives; and
(b) manuscripts with known authors--which are alphabetized in the
bibliography under the author's surname.

Chicago Manual covers more, but still basically ignores everything
unpublished. Exceptions are
(a) National Archives documents--which are alphabetized in
bibliography under name of agency or the name "National Archives."
(b) Foreign archival documents, which are alphabetized under the
name of the country, with name of archives as the next element.
(c) Interviews, which are alphabetized under the surname of the
interviewee, with place stated toward the end of the citation.
(d) Manuscripts in major archives, which are alphabetized under the
name of the collection or the name of the archives--author's choice.

In short, none of the major guides deal to any extent with the range
of unpublished records that genealogists uses -- because academic
publications seldom deal with the range or sheer numbers of
unpublished sources that the "average" genealogist uses. In the
typical "academic history," the list of non-authored materials from
archives is usually short. Whether materials are alphabetized by the
geographic place, library/archive name, or collection name is of
little consequence because the short list can be scanned quickly.

Meanwhile, a list of sources produced by any halfway-good
genealogist will
- have far more unpublished materials than published ones; and
- cover dozens to hundreds of geographic areas.

Thus, the only sensible organization for genealogists compiling a
list of sources is geographic -- not by name of collection or name
of repository. And, because of the breadth of area that we
cover--frequently several *countries*--logic dictates arranging them
by country, state/province, local jurisdiction (in descending

It is simply natural for us to group together all our materials from
Germany, all our materials from Canada, all our materials from the
U.S., etc. Then we group by state, not by local jurisdiction,
because of ancestral residential patterns.

Take, for example, a family that lived in Hawkins County and
Jefferson County (cut from Hawkins), Tennessee; then moved south to
Georgia to the part of Burke that soon became Jefferson County; then
moved west to Blount County, Alabama, where their home was cut away
into Jefferson County the next year. Would it be logical for us to
arrange our records in the following fashion?

Blount County, Alabama
Burke County, Georgia
Hawkins County, Tennessee
Jefferson County, Alabama
Jefferson County, Georgia
Jefferson County, Tennessee

No! Alphabetizing records by the first letter of the county name --
regardless of state -- would be a totally artificial construct for
us. Instead, when we organize our materials geographically, we
commonly group the two Tennessee counties together because they are
part of the same sequence of records. We group the two Georgia
counties together, and the two Alabama counties. We group by state,
then subdivide by county--or in New England, perhaps by town.

All this is why, when _Evidence!_ was developed, *all* the
manuscript reviewers (as well as the author) agreed on the citation
order for unpublished records. Geographic order, starting with the
largest entity and working down to the smallest, is a no-brainer for
the genealogist!


- -------------------------------------------------
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
Editor, National Genealogical Society Quarterly

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