FW: [APG Public List] Source Citation Question

eshown at comcast.net eshown at comcast.net
Sat Jan 30 13:41:03 MST 2010

Jane wrote:
>I am very excited to have finally found my great-grandmother's baptism
record in the new Ancestry database
http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1627 , and am adding the
information to my family file but naturally wish to cite it
correctly. Following the format for Online Images on page 439 of _Evidence
Explained_ I came up with the following, on which I would appreciate any
comments or corrections.

>Source List Entry
>Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Bad Sülze Parish Register, 1878. Digital images,
Ancestry.com. _Mecklenburg, Germany, Parish Register Transcripts, 1876-1918_
[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.
Original data: Kirchenbuchabschriften evangelischer und katholischer
Gemeinden Mecklenburgs. 10.72-4. Landeshauptarchiv Schwerin, Schwerin.
(http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1627 : accessed 26 January

>First Reference Note
     1. Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Bad Sülze Parish Register, 1878, image 11,
frame 0041, Frieda Wilhelmine Louise Henrike Piplow baptism, 24 November
1878; Digital images, Ancestry.com. _Mecklenburg, Germany, Parish Register
Transcripts, 1876-1918_ [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com
Operations Inc, 2009. Original data:
Kirchenbuchabschriften evangelischer und katholischer Gemeinden
Mecklenburgs. 10.72-4. Landeshauptarchiv Schwerin, Schwerin.
(http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1627 : accessed 26 January

Jane, your actual message still has not been delivered to my inbox, although
Alvie and Harold's responses have been. In responding, I'm working off the
snippets included in their responses to you.

The nature of my response is also based on your statement that you wanted to
follow _Evidence Explained_. As Harold and Alvie noted, your citation is
mighty long--basically because you are quoting (without the use of quotes
<g>) verbiage from Ancestry's description of its source.

Before we put together the citations, let's consider some background

As general rules:
--- Titles of databases at a site such as Ancestry should be in quotation
marks, not italicized. Italics are used for the name of the website. This
follows the long-standing practice used for print publications, wherein the
name of the publication (journal, book, etc.) is italicized, and the name of
the article or chapter within the publication is placed in quotation marks.
(EE 2.68)

--- In a reference note, periods do not appear amid a citation exception if
a word is abbreviated. Reference notes are written sentence-style. That
sentence is closed with a period (a "full stop"). In reading a citation,
when we come to a period, that full stop "tells" the reader that you have
finished with your citation of that source. When source data then follows
the period, readers assume that new batch of details relate to a different
source. (EE 2.64)

--- Square brackets (i.e., editorial brackets) are used when the writer adds
something to an original quote that is not in the quote  (EE 2.58) or when
we translate a foreign language title using English words that, naturally
are not in that title (EE 2.23, 3.12, also demonstrated below.) Neither
situation exists above, where you've used square editorial brackets. Once we
examine Ancestry's description of its source, we see why you used the
square, editorial brackets--you copied them from Ancestry. However, Ancestry
uses them incorrectly and, given that you did not put quotes around the
details you copied Ancestry's web page, any "error of usage" you "borrowed"
from that other source is one readers will thereafter attribute to you. 

--- Source list entries, as a rule, do not contain a specific date of
download or access. Typically for records such as those you are citing, we
use them over and again. Citing every day's use would be unreasonable.
(This point is illustrated a jillion times throughout EE, so I'll not cite
one passage.)

--- When citing on line images at a website that offers many of them, it is
better not to cite an image number; those image numbers change with
much-too-much frequency. 

--- Your citation above includes a "frame number." However, the frame number
correspond to microfilm and you've not cited the microfilm. Therefore, the
frame number is  meaningless. (See various comments on frame numbers,
indexed under "Microfilm/fiche, frame numbers."

--- Note in your "first reference note" that the image and frame numbers
immediately follow the identification of the register. 

--- The numbers that should be attached to the register are the page and
entry number that comes that the register gives (i.e., p. 24, entry 93). If
you choose to cite Ancestry's image number, then that should be attached to
the part of the citation that identifies the database. If you choose to cite
the microfilm frame number, then you have to add an identification of the
microfilm and the frame number is then attached to that identification.

--- details on the physical location of Ancestry.com's corporate offices,
full corporate names, etc., are not normal parts of a citation to online
material. Citations to web data, like citations to print data, cite a place
of publication. For online material, that "place of publication" is the URL.
(EE 2.33 and, more explicitly, the "Basic Principles" section of the two
QuickSheets for citations to online material.) 

--- "10.72-4."  This part of your citation has not explanation, suggesting
that you included it only because Ancestry included it in its background on
the record set. When we identity a "source of our source," borrowing the
words used by our source to identify it, we should use quotation marks
around what we've copied from our source--or else use our own words to
create a full, correct, understand citation using our own knowledge of the
record set. (See EE index for "Sources of sources, citing ...".)

Also, I haven't seen your response to Harold's question as to whether you
are citing a database entry or an image. Using the bits of data you cite, I
followed the path through the subdivisions of this database and arrived at
**images** of what ancestry identifies as "transcripts." Because this term
has multiple meanings, each of which affect the way a source is cited, it's
important to note here a couple of points:

--- The "transcripts" are not Ancestry's own abstracts. They are manuscript,
'original' transcripts or what, in courthouse-record terms, we would call
"clerk's copies." 
--- Within the database Jane cites, there are many subgroups, according to
denomination and town. 
--- There is no way to identify the exact title of any church record book in
this huge database, because of the architecture Ancestry created for
accessing it. We are totally dependent upon Ancestry's search engine for the
database and the labels that ancestry chose to apply.

Also, rather than following the "online images" model you cited (p. 439 ---
Chapter 9, Local and State Records: Licenses, Registrations....) I'd suggest
turning to Chapter 7 (Church Records) given that this is what your source
is. Specifically see EE 7.18 "Church Record Books, Online Images," pp.
332-334; and 7.40 "Germany," pp. 358-62.

Against all this background, my own shorter citations would be these:


Evangelish-Lutherische Gemeinden [parish] (Bad Sülze, Mecklenburg, Germany).
Taufen [baptisms], 1878. Digital images. _Ancestry.com_.
http://www.ancestry.com : 2010.

      1.	 Evangelish-Lutherische Gemeinden (Bad Sülze, Mecklenburg,
Germany), Taufen,1878, p. 14, entry 93, baptism of Frieda Wilhelmine Louise
Henrine [sic] Piplow, 24 November 1878; digital image, "Mecklenburg,
Germany, Parish Register Transcripts, 1876-1918," _Ancestry.com_
(http://www.ancestry.com : 26 January 2010); citing "Kirchenbuchabschriften
evangelischer und katholischer Gemeinden Mecklenburgs[,] 10.71-4[,]
Landeschauptarchiv Schwerin, Schwerin."

These formats reduce your Source List Entry from 42 words to 17. They reduce
your First Reference Note citation from 56 to 46.

Despite widespread rumors to the contrary, EE really doesn't follow the
mantra "longer is better" <g>.  Rather, it's tack is that when we learn
what's really essential (and why), then we can be thorough without bogging
down our citations with stuff that distracts or leads us astray.

Hope this helps,


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

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