[APG Public List] Online death certificate - citation help

Robert Raymond Robert.Raymond at familysearch.org
Mon May 3 11:18:46 MDT 2010


I should wait for Elizabeth to reply, but I suffer from "fools rush in" syndrome.

Often multiple principles of citation can be applied, leading to Elizabeth's statement, "Citation is an art, not a science... Once we have learned the principles of citation, we have both an artistic license and a researcher's responsibility to adapt those principles." (EE, 41)

Generalized, the choice between the two variations you present is the choice between emphasizing the original versus emphasizing the website:

1. [citation of the original]; digital image, [citation of the published photographic copy].

2. [citation of published photographic copy]; citing [citation of the original].

Some citation principles that apply are:

* Cite the source that you used. (EE, 52.)

* Judging the strength of genealogical evidence requires knowledge of the provenance of the information. (EE, 24, 28-31 [par. 1.22-1.29].)

* When photographic reproductions are legible and agree with other evidence, the reproductions are given as much evidentiary weight as the originals. (EE, 24, 30.)

* In such situations, it is acceptable to cite the original--which source you did not actually use--prior to the citation of the original. (For example where Mills does this, see EE, 131, 418, 512, 578, 632.) The choice between the two depends on if you wish to emphasize the original document or if you wish to emphasize the website. (EE, 417-8.) 

Applying these principles leads me to believe that once the FHL film number is added to the second variation, either form is acceptable.

I have yet to discern specific principles governing the choice of _conjunctions_ like "citing" and "imaged from" that link the citation of the derivative to the citation of the original.

Examples of "citing" can be found on pages 166, 300-1, 348 (par. 7.34), 404, 427, 577, 630-2, and 786. An interesting permutation of this format can be found on pages 445-6 (par. 9.15).

The sole example of "imaged from" occurs on page 605.

Two examples of "crediting" exist. See pages 94 and 127-8.

For examples of other conjunctions, see p. 134 ("reprint"), 157 ("web edition"), 160 ("online archives"), 577 ("newspaper abstract from"), and 783 ("reprinted from").

The choice may depend on another citation principle: "Clarity always beats consistency." (EE, 462.)
Robert Raymond
Information Division 
FamilySearch, a service of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

-----Original Message-----

...the question came up as to the best way to cite the Ohio death certificates available at the Record Search pilot site on FamilySearch.org.  In studying sections in EE and the QuickSheet models, I came up with two variations.  I'd appreciate a critique of these two first reference notes.


The first variation treats the digital image as an image copy; and I think the second variation treats it as a publication. 

The first variation gives information on all three incarnations of this record... I feel like [the second] leaves out information a reader might find helpful.

Which variation would be preferable, and why?  I would also like to know when one would use the phrase "imaged from" and when one would use the word "citing" in the credit line.


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