[APG Public List] citation for World War II: Fourth Registration

eshown at comcast.net eshown at comcast.net
Sun Nov 29 15:36:30 MST 2009

Debbie wrote:
>I am using ancestry.com to access these digital images.
If ancestry isn't the compiler of a digital image, does the compiler need to
be mentioned at the beginning?

Debbie, the database you are citing is Ancestry's creation, using images
from elsewhere.

>Currently, I omit the compiler and compiler location and begin with the
database title.  Is this correct?

Yes and no. 

- A compiler/author/abstractor/etc. is typically cited for a database or
article that is part of a larger publication, but given that the compiler of
the database is Ancestry, it would be redundant to cite Ancestry yet again
in that field. 

- *However,* the compiler's *location* is never cited in the field for

>"U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942," digital images,
Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 November 2009), James S.
Haviaras, serial no. U2222, Draft Board 3, Allentown, Lehigh County,
Pennsylvania; citing Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II:
Fourth Registration, National Archives.
>My other problem is the end of the citation. There is a roll mentioned on
ancestry.com, not on the image of the card but on the database just before I
click on the image.  Does that need to be mentioned?  (Roll WW2_2240379 in
this case).

Elissa mentioned the similarity between your citation and the World War I
model in EE (1st ed.) p. 598.  However, there are a couple of important
differences caused by Ancestry's incomplete and inaccurate citation data.
Points to consider here:

1. The 'title' that Ancestry gives to its source is not the actual name of
the NARA publication that it used, even though Ancestry placed the 'title'
in italics--the typesetting convention used to identify something as
published. It's an altered version of the generic title used for the NARA
publication in the FHL catalog. If anyone looks for a NARA publication under
that title, they won't find one.

2. Ancestry's citation omits critical data. It purports to cite the NARA
publication, but NARA publications have to be identified by their
publication number (which is actually an alpha-numeric ID). Because Ancestry
didn't give it, you didn't have it to cite. But you can get it, as discussed

3. The roll number that Ancestry gives is not the NARA roll number. It's an
altered version of the Family History Library's call number for the FHL film
that Ancestry actually digitized. FHL's number is 2240379. Why Ancestry
added WW2_ to the start of that is anybody's guess.

4. The bigger problem is that Ancestry does not identify this as FHL's film
or FHL's film number. But when we cite a NARA publication and its
publication number, we have to cite NARA's own roll number or else we're
mixing peas and apples. Anyone who has access to that NARA publication
elsewhere, and sees that it has just 355 rolls of film, would be at a loss
to find roll no. 2,240,379. If we cite FHL's film number, then we have to
identify it as FHL's film number.

Given all the problems here, you might use one of two approaches:

1. After you finish citing the Ancestry database add

     ; citing "_Selective Service Registration Cards, World 
     War  II: Fourth Registration_, National Archives ... roll

Or (better)
2. Do a bit of homework to find the details needed for a complete citation,
one that might end up like this:

     ; Ancestry's images are taken from _World War II 
     Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of 
     Pennsylvania,_ NARA microfilm publication M1951, 
     roll 128 (the roll that Ancestry cites, "2240379," is the 
     cataloging number of the Family History Library film 
     from which Ancestry digitized this collection).

As for "doing that homework," it can be done in a couple of ways: 

- One, when you suspect that Ancestry is silently using an FHL number, you
should go to the FamilySearch website and look up the cataloging data for
that number. It will confirm or correct your assumption and help you to
better understand your source.

- Two, when you're dealing with NARA microfilm, go to archives.gov, click on
"Start Your Research" in the left-hand column; then click on "Microfilm
Catalog" in the middle column of the new screen (under "Online Research
Tools"). This will take you to a search box wherein you can enter the NARA
film publication number or (if Ancestry doesn't give you the publication
number), then the keywords for the title. The new screen will list the
publication you seek by its exact title and publication number. To the right
of it, you will see a red Adobe Reader icon under the words "Publication
Details." This takes you to the Descriptive Pamphlet that NARA prepared for
that publication number. There, you can narrow things down to the exact roll
you need to cite.

One final comment on your tentative citation: It ends with the words
"National Archives," but you didn't go to the National Archives to use the
records and Ancestry didn't film the original records there. It would be
clearer if you were more precise. 

The film is published by the National Archives and Records Administration
(NARA). The "National Archives" (NA) is the facility maintained by
NARA--i.e., the facility where the original records are housed. If you cite
"National Archives" for this set of cards, you leave the impression that
Ancestry digitized the original cards held at the National Archives
(producing a 2nd-generation product), rather than digitizing the film that
FHL made from the film NARA made from the originals (which makes Ancestry's
offering a 4th-generation product).

>>The citing portion is the most confusing part. The title I have at the end
of the citation, Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth
Registration, does that have to be in italics or in quotes?  Do I need to
mention it at all?  
If you cite exactly what Ancestry says, then you put the whole in quotation
marks and use either italics or roman typeface according to what Ancestry
used. If you do your homework and provide an exact and correct citation,
then you do not use quotation marks and you put the exact title of the
publication in italics. 

Three standard "rules" apply here:

1. If you quote something exactly, you use quotation marks around al the
words you quote.

2. When you cite the title of a publication, you copy it exactly and use
italics to signify that it's a publication.

3. If a title is not part of a bigger quote, you do not put quotation marks
around the title unless one of two situations exist: (a) the title is that
of an unpublished manuscript that you are quoting exactly; or (b) the title
is that of an item (i.e., database, article, chapter, etc.) that is part of
a larger publication.  In the citation at hand, we put quotation marks
around the database title because that published item is part of the bigger
publication whose title we italicize--i.e., the Ancestry website.

These three rules might be considered "nitpicking"; but like most rules they
exist to help us. If we understand the rules, when they are followed, we
know exactly what type of source we're dealing with. As a result, we don't
waste scads of time searching for unpublished stuff in catalogs to
publications or vice-versa.

(Incidentally, these basic "rules" and more are covered in the first two
chapters of EE.)


Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
The Evidence Series

More information about the APGPublicList mailing list