[APG Public List] Regarding Australian records‏

eshown at comcast.net eshown at comcast.net
Wed May 12 18:42:41 MDT 2010

Carole wrote:

>I know this is entirely different to the way records are cited in the
States and elsewhere, with the repository first down to specifics last, so
it may be confusing if you cite this one this way and all your other sources
the other way around. This is the way we do it here, and the State archives
use the same standard. Our records are much more centralised than in other
countries, and it works for us.


Carole, thanks for your two informative posts, adding an Australian
perspective to what does tend to be a U.S. dominated issue.

You make a good point above. It's one that is a special challenge for
genealogists whose work transcends international bounds---which, eventually,
does seem to be all of us!

Because U.S. traditional format for academic and federal/state government
sources call for starting with the smallest element and working up to the
largest, while European, Canadian, and Australian conventions favor starting
with the largest and working down to the smallest, we have no really good
option for handling these international citations. 

If (a), we 'honor' the preference of every country in which we work---and
every archive we use--then we end up with a hodgepodge of citations that
leave the impression  we are simply careless and do not realize the value of
consistency. (Indeed, this is an internal problem here in the U.S., because
even archives that follow the same 'general' custom will have all sorts of
variances in the styles they 'suggest' for their users.)

If (b), we apply consistency and adopt one style to use for all archival
sources of this type, then we risk miffing those in other countries who
might conclude that we are either ignorant of or have no regard for their
own customs.

Currently, most style guides do recommend adopting a consistent style, given
that clarity should trump "sensitivities" where citations are concerned.
Programmers also prefer the consistency. Creating "Australian-style"
citations for Australian editions of their software, or "French-style"
citations for French editions, and "Danish-style" citations for Danish
editions, etc., is logical. But trying to build all the different national
styles into one country's edition raises a whole plethora of issues.


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

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