[APG Public List] Regarding Australian records‏

eshown at comcast.net eshown at comcast.net
Mon May 10 09:47:12 MDT 2010

Debbie wrote:
> I see the agency number is irrelevant as the agency is just named as the
repository. I included the series number. The only thing left out is the
barcode. Do I need that? What is missing? Ahhh the fine art of citations :)
. . .  I also left out reference to Adelaide. I left out the item title as
it is quite wordy. Do I need it?  Again sorry to clog up your mailboxes but
this is a mission.

>I realize that US-based sources are not only based on differently named
archival terms, but they are probabably styled differently as well. I'm
using Elizabeth Shown Mill's book, Evidence to construct my sources.

>I'm not thrilled or ready to begin studying how the Australian archive
system operates, but just a little nudge regarding this particular document.
It is the only one I believe we will be needing and too much information
clogs my brain :) My apologies If I'm being a nuisance.


The second and third snippets do get at the heart of your difficulty. Please
don't think of each country as an isolated entity that you don't need to
understand if you only use one record from it. Archivists network
internationally. They use practices that are employed internationally. There
is a great deal of similarity in the hierarchical systems used by individual

Please, too, since you say you are following EE, note that EE is short for
EVIDENCE EXPLAINED. The title of the book isn't "1100 Handy Citation Models
You Can Pick From for Whatever You Use."  :)

The website of the National Archives of Australia, like most of those in
Western countries, offers very good and very essential discussions of how
their records are organized. There, you will see that they do follow
essentially the same system used by the U.S. National Archives. 

The EE discussion at 11.1 is a parallel to what you find at NAA's webpage,
"The CRS System: How Our Records Are Arranged and Controlled:
(http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/research/crs-system.aspx).  The basic
difference is the one EE describes at the start of its "Archives and
Artifacts" chapter (3.3, "International Differences"): U.S. archival
descriptions conventionally start with the smallest element and work up to
the largest, while international archives typically start with the largest
and work down to the smallest.

Similarly, reading NAA's Fact Sheet 7 "Citing Archival Records"
(http://www.naa.gov.au/about-us/publications/fact-sheets/fs07.aspx), you'll
also notice another parallel thread between international archives.
Australia's NA offers users two different options for citing its material:

1) "Abbreviated citation"---i.e., the cryptic letter/number combo that is
common in much of Europe and the British Isles. 
2) "Expanded citation"--i.e., the full, verbal description preferred by U.S.

Of course, research time is preciously short for everyone. Because of this,
we do love quick answers to questions. But, two general rules kick in here:

1. What we get quickly is of minimal value; what we take the time to *learn*
helps us with many other things we do.
2. The posts to professional lists that ask for 'quick 'n simple' answers
usually end up involving a string of long answers by numerous respondents,
as well as the original poster.

Specifically with regard to EE, I note that even though you are citing a
digital image, you are following the EE format for a database entry. I
assume that is because the EE models for NAA focus on databases; but you are
not citing the website's database entry. 

Please remember that EE does not and cannot provide every type of example
for every country. (If it did, then that one chapter dealing with "National
Archives" records in 11 Western countries would  be 11 volumes instead of
107 pages. :) 

Do study Chapter 11's introductory discussion of citing online archival
images vs. databases (11.10). This is where you find general principles that
transcend national bounds. Then study all examples for online images, not
just those for Australia. Particularly helpful would be the English National
Archives discussion at 11.60 (pp.  630-32), given the similarity in the
English and Australian archival systems. 

As with most issues, once you learn the "big picture," the basic formats
work regardless of whether you are using Australian records, English
records, U.S. records, Canadian records, etc. 

Best wishes,

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

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