[APG Public List] Citing a manuscript

eshown at comcast.net eshown at comcast.net
Fri Nov 26 14:39:43 MST 2010

In asking how to cite an untitled manuscript, Jean wrote:
> No title, but I can construct one
Larry then wrote:
>I think the idea of constructing a title for an "untitled manuscript" (as previously recommended) is not a good idea.  Not as an imposed title anyway. . . . I think a note in square brackets after the citation would be more appropriate than anything that could be later interpreted in any sense as a title.  Square brackets are more the norm for that kind of 'elaboration'?
And Michael wrote:
> I feel that an informal descriptive "title" would be appropriate.  In terms of citation, this means that this "title" would not be italicized, underlined, or capitalized (depending on the publication format), and should be followed by the notation "unpublished manuscript."
All three of you raise good points that need to be considered.
Jean is right that we can 'construct' titles, if there is none. However, as Larry and Michael noted, we cannot treat the 'constructed' title in the same way that we would treat a formal title.
Larry is right that square editorial brackets are the proper manner of setting off anything that we add to a quotation--whether that quotation is a quoted title or a quoted statement. Doing so tells the reader that we are adding an explanation 'from our personal knowledge/experience' and the added words are not part of the original that we've quoted. However, if we are creating a citation and there's no title in the first place, then—logically---we aren't quoting anything.
Michael is right that we don't italicize, underline, or capitalize whatever words we use ('construct,' in Jean's wording) to describe the manuscript. Four reasons exist.
1. Italics is the centuries-old convention used by printers to designate the title of a published book or journal. Jean, however, used an unpublished manuscript. Therefore, even if it were titled, it would not appear in italics.
2. Underlining is a totally passé relic of the typewriter era. Because typewriters, until the latter 20th century, had no mechanism for creating italics, underlining was used. The birth of electronic typewriters with changeable printwheels---and then word processors and computers---made italics easily available to every typist. Today, we use underlining only if we're hand-writing a title.
3. All caps (as illustrated by Michael), have never been an acceptable manner of designating titles in either the printing or typing worlds. For one reason, it's always been considered SCREAMING. For another, it obscures critical distinctions between upper and lower-case letters in situations where those make a difference. For example, if we were to take the ‘title’ that has been constructed for this manuscript in the WorldCat entry to which Drew pointed us, and we were to capitalize it, we would have SAMUEL MACMILLAN'S DEATH REGISTER.  What, then, would be the accurate way to write this man's surname? Was he "Samuel MacMillan" or "Samuel Macmillan"?
4.  Titles of manuscripts go in quotation marks. If it's not titled, however, the descriptive ID we create for it is not placed in quotation marks because we aren't quoting anything.
Drew’s post, in which he (seemingly) points to a copy of this manuscript at the Allen County Public Library, creates another couple of twists to ponder:
-       The WorldCat citation identifies only one holder of this manuscript, the ACPL copy. It was cataloged as a book, obviously because it is bound rather than something in a file; but Jean’s fuller identification indicates that it is a handwritten manuscript. Bound or not, it is still a handwritten manuscript; and appears to be a still-unpublished manuscript, not found in any other catalog for published books that I’ve checked today.
-       The ACPL cataloging submitted to WorldCat treats MacMillan as the author. However, Jean’s more-thorough notation indicates that Dr. James T. Herron, not MacMillan, was the author/creator who kept the register between the 1850s and 1911 and that MacMillan merely copied Herron’s manuscript in 1914. Under these conditions, the ‘title’ that Jean ‘constructs’ needs to make that distinction.
One other consideration factors into this problem. When we are citing unpublished manuscripts, the convention is to state in parentheses (rather than square editorial brackets—because, as noted above, we’re not adding anything into a quotation), that the work is a manuscript. And, in that same set of parentheses we are to identify the date and place of the manuscript’s creation, if the manuscript gives us that information.
Based on the details that have been presented, the following would be my own suggestion: 
Samuel MacMillan, transcriber, Death register kept by Dr. James T. Herron, Canonsburg, Pa., c1850s-1911 (untitled manuscript, 1914), p. __; photocopy available at Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Incidentally, the latest (16th) edition of CMOS treats this at 14.225, in a brief, one-paragraph discussion of how to handle “Unpublished Manuscripts.” CMOS’s model citation, curiously, does not cite any place in which the unpublished manuscript might be consulted---a point that has always been standard for unpublished manuscripts and standard for CMOS through its 15th edition. (Libraries, of course, aren’t cited for published works because publications appear in many libraries; but unpublished manuscripts by their nature, typically exist in a single repository, a point that logically suggests that facility be identified.)
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
The Evidence Series
-----Original Message-----
From: apgpubliclist-bounces+eshown=comcast.net at apgen.org [mailto:apgpubliclist-bounces+eshown=comcast.net at apgen.org] On Behalf Of Drew Smith
Sent: Thursday, November 25, 2010 12:03 PM
To: jean at suplick.name
Cc: apgpubliclist at apgen.org
Subject: Re: [APG Public List] Citing a manuscript
Just out of curiosity, is the manuscript this one?
Drew Smith
On Thu, Nov 25, 2010 at 8:40 AM, Jean Suplick <jean.suplick at gmail.com> wrote:
> In the genealogical collection of a library is a photocopy of a
> manuscript. The original manuscript was apparently written in a bound
> notebook of lined leaves with numbered pages.) It is untitled. The
> author penned on the first page of the original notebook: "Compiled
> and Written by Samuel Mac Millan in 1914 in the 85 year of his age."
> On the first page of the photocopy is penned "Copied from original
> owned by Dr. James T. Herron, Canonsburg, Pa." And another penned
> note, "Copy - Mrs. [private name], [private address]."
> So I have:
> - The author
> - No title, but I can construct one
> - A date for the manuscript
> - A pretty good idea of the location where the manuscript was created
> - A presumed possessor of the original manuscript (although I know he
> is deceased, I but have not located the current owner of the original)
> - The presumed previous owner of the original manuscript (got that
> from a different, reliable source)
> - Who photocopied the original and where they live, but not when it
> was photocopied.
> - The repository of the photocopy (a public library in the county in question)
> - It is not part of any collection of papers or series at the library,
> just a lone, cataloged item
> I'm looking for pointers on how to construct a source entry and a 1st
> reference for this.
> I think one of my confusions is how to note the provenance, sketchy as
> it is. It seems important to capture that for this particular work.
> Does one put a note at the end of the source entry? In square
> brackets? How long is too long?
> Thanks in advance,
> Jean Suplick
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