Citing transcribed records

 
 
 
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yhoitink
yhoitink's picture
Citing transcribed records

Hello,

Although I've always prided myself on documenting my sources, your book introduced me to a whole new level of detail in citations. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and knowledge.

Even though your book has great and inspiring examples, I find myself struggling with citing transcribed records. I'm lucky enough to have ancestors from an area where a lot of genealogists have dedicated their time to transcribe or photograph records and provide free online access to their work.

The most common case is this:
The archive holds the originals, but only has photocopies available in the reading room to protect the originals. These photocopies are transcribed by a volunteer and the transcription is subsequently put online by another volunteer who hosts a genealogy website. Sometimes, there are even more intermediate steps where the photocopies in the reading room are photographed digitally by another volunteer, put online by possibly yet another volunteer and transcribed from there. Needless to say, I love this community!

Even if I trace this exact provenance of the transcription (which can be like researching a pedigree in itself!), it's a bit daunting to know how much to include in a citation. I don't want to put in too little and sugggest I've seen a record that I've not, but I don't want to overcomplicate things either.  

My first attempt at one such example where I found relevant information on page 45 of a transcription (which does not correspond to page 45 of the original record), where the transcription is done straight from the photocopies in the reading room is this:

Simon Stroet (transcriber): “Nederduits Gereformeerde Gemeente AALTEN Trouwboek periode 1737-1772”, 7 August 2007, p. 45, published at Genealogiedomein, http://www.genealogiedomein.nl, accessed 22 Jun 2012, transcribed from photocopies at Gelders Archief, Arnhem, of collection “Retroacta Burgerlijke stand”, call number 4. 

I decided to do this citation in English for the benefit of asking the question here, but normally the whole citation would be in Dutch (my native language). I chose to name the transcriber only and not the volunteer who hosts the website. I also chose to only include the URL of the website and not of the transcription itself. The URL of the transcription is long and machine-generated so it's hard to copy and easy to break. The direct link will also probably not survive the next major technical update of the website, and I want to avoid a broken link. Based on the information in the citation, the PDF with the transcription can be easily found by anyone who understands Dutch. 

I would love to receive any tips on how to improve this citation! 

yhoitink
yhoitink's picture

I've been reading on this website some more and have recrafted the initial citation because I realized that the transcription doesn't actually cite the source and my citation should reflect that. There were some other stylistic flaws as well. 

Attempt number 2:

Simon Stroet, “Nederduits Gereformeerde Gemeente AALTEN Trouwboek periode 1737-1772”, transcription, 7 August 2007, Genealogiedomein (http://www.genealogiedomein.nl : accessed 22 June 2012), p. 45, entry for publication of marriage banns of Hendrik Bengevoort en Janna Boumeister dated  18 September 1767; unsourced, transcribed from photocopies at Gelders Archief, Arnhem, of “Retroacta Burgerlijke stand”, call number 4.

Yvette Hoitink, CGSM, the Netherlands
Dutch Genealogy Services

EE
EE's picture

Yvette, you're catching on quickly. Let's start with a couple of comments in your original message:

>The archive holds the originals, but only has photocopies available in the reading room to protect the originals."

This is an increasingly common situation, for preservation reasons. As a practical matter, as long as we are dealing with officially prepared images and they have no obvious defects, most historical researchers treat these as originals. (EE, Glossary, p. 826, for "Original Source.")

>Even if I trace this exact provenance of the transcription (which can be like researching a pedigree in itself!) ...

Naming all individuals involved in the processing of records for public usage is not something that appears in a normal citation. However, it is immensely valuable to you to understand this process. Among other advantages, it will instill great caution in you when you weigh how much trust you should place in the conveniently available derivatives.

>I decided to do this citation in English for the benefit of asking the question here, but normally the whole citation would be in Dutch (my native language).

The language you use will typically depend upon your readership or the needs of those with whom you share. If you have not found these sections yet, customary practices for handling record titles whose language differs from our chosen language are at EE 3.12 and 7.16.

>I chose to name the transcriber only and not the volunteer who hosts the website.

If a site is sponsored by a church or an organization, it benefits our readers to identify the host--but not a site administrator. On the other hand, if a site is personally owned it will benefit our own readers (and ourselves at a later date) to identify that person. Websites are notorious for changing names, URLs, and other bits of data essential to refinding them. The more information we have about a site, the better the odds that we won't be left citing something that can't be relocated.  Your further comments make it clear that you understand this problem and are weighing the essential factors.

We'll address your specific citation drafts in a separate message.

The Editor

EE
EE's picture

Yvette wrote:

>Attempt number 2:  Simon Stroet, “Nederduits Gereformeerde Gemeente AALTEN Trouwboek periode 1737-1772”, transcription, 7 August 2007, Genealogiedomein (http://www.genealogiedomein.nl : accessed 22 June 2012), p. 45, entry for publication of marriage banns of Hendrik Bengevoort en Janna Boumeister dated  18 September 1767; unsourced, transcribed from photocopies at Gelders Archief, Arnhem, of “Retroacta Burgerlijke stand”, call number 4.

 

Yvette, you've extracted all the essential details that a user of this site might glean.

There are basically two approaches to citing transcribed records such as this:

  1. Cite the transcription in the common fashion for an authored manuscript (as per EE 7.31); then add a citation to the website where you located the material (EE 7.18 gives several examples).
  2. Cite the online offering as an article at the website, as you have done above. This is a wise choice for you because the PDF to which you point does not have all the data that you would need to cite it fully in a manuscript format.

The only apple-polishing that EE might do to your citation would be to place the word "transcriber" after Simon Stroet's name, as you originally did, and replace the word "transcription" with "PDF." As it now stands, a reader might deduce that Simon Stroet wrote something called "Nederduits Gereformeerde ..." and that some unnamed person transcribed and posted it online. That minor change would look like this:

Simon Stroet, transcriber, “Nederduits Gereformeerde Gemeente AALTEN Trouwboek periode 1737-1772”, PDF dated 7 August 2007, Genealogiedomein (http://www.genealogiedomein.nl : accessed 22 June 2012), p. 45, entry for publication of marriage banns of Hendrik Bengevoort en Janna Boumeister dated  18 September 1767; unsourced, transcribed from photocopies at Gelders Archief, Arnhem, of “Retroacta Burgerlijke stand”, call number 4.

The document description you have appended to the basic citation demonstrates a good understanding of what is needed and why.

The Editor

yhoitink
yhoitink's picture

Thank you very much for all the guidance and improving my citation. It's great to know I'm on the right track. 

The genealogiedomein.nl website is privately owned (by a Mr. B. Baneman). How would I go about including his name? My attempt:

Simon Stroet, transcriber, “Nederduits Gereformeerde Gemeente AALTEN Trouwboek periode 1737-1772”, PDF dated 7 August 2007, Genealogiedomein (http://www.genealogiedomein.nl, owned by B. Baneman : accessed 22 June 2012), p. 45, entry for publication of marriage banns of Hendrik Bengevoort en Janna Boumeister dated 18 September 1767; unsourced, transcribed from photocopies at Gelders Archief, Arnhem, of “Retroacta Burgerlijke stand”, call number 4.

Yvette Hoitink, CGSM, the Netherlands
Dutch Genealogy Services

EE
EE's picture

Yvette,

Let's draw here from the more extensive discussion at EE 2.33, "Core Elements to Cite" for online material.

The simplest way to fully identify website material is to follow the traditional pattern for books. Both are "stand-alone" publications, which means the basic format is this:

Author/Creator, Title (Publication Data), identification of specific material.

When we cite a website that has multiple databases, articles, etc., then we can follow the same pattern we would for a book that has chapters by different authors--a situation in which we would need to name both the chapter author and the editor. The basic format then would be this:

Author of Chapter, "Title of Chapter," Editor/Creator's Name, Title of Book (Publication Data), identification of spcific material.

Your citation follows this pattern. All you need to do is to insert B. Bannemen's name in the field for Editor/Creator of the Titled Website.

 

The Editor

Lemon Stand
Lemon Stand's picture

I have been combing your website but am still scratching my head. I am in the unenviable postition of citing a microfilmed transcription without knowing who the transcriber was nor the microfilm data and the database is not what is specifically cited by Ancestry.com  Here's what I know:

I am attempting to cite an estate inventory from an online image that is a microfilmed transcription done under the auspices of the TN State Library in Nashville, TN. 

The title page/notes of the microfilmed book states the following:

Records of Campbell County  Tennessee  Wills Bonds Inventories Vol.6 1807-1841 Copying Historical Records Project Works Progress Administration Official Project No.3857 Mrs. John Trotwood Moore State Librarian & Archivist Sponsor Mrs Elizabeth D. Coppedge State Director of Women's & Professional Projects Mrs. Penelope Johnson Allen State Supervisor Mrs Margaret Helms Richardson Supervisor First Distri ct Workers Miss Edna Lambert July 10, 1936  Tennessee State Library (stamped)  Taken from original typewritten copy in Tennessee State Library, State Capital Building, Nashville, Tennessee, Mrs. John Trotwood Moore, State Librarian and Archivest, Filmed by Genealogical Society of Utah at Nashville, Tennessee Records of Campbell County Ancestry gives the following: Ancestry.com. Tennessee, Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Tennessee County, District and Probate Courts.

The only microfilms I can find on the TN State Library website I believe are of the originals as the Estate book does not have a volume number nor are the dates exactly the same.

My citation does not look right but here it is:

Campbell County, Tennessee. Tennessee Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008 [database on-line], Will, Bonds and Inventories, 1807-1841  6: 271, img281, Wiley Smith Estate Inventory, Apr 1840; transcription, digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 15 Jun 2017); citing Probate Court, Campbell County, Tennessee

If I were a researcher and tried to find this exact source, I hope I have covered everything that would make it clear where I found it despite not knowing the transcriber or film number.  Have I done this properly?

Paulette

EE
EE's picture

Paulette, there are a number of issues to discuss, but first we need to see the record. Using the data above, at Ancestry, I've tried these approaches for the database you cite ("Tennessee Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008):

  • Searched for Wiley/Wilie/Willie Smith in Campbell County: no results
  • Searched for Wiley/Wilie/Willie Smith statewide. Four results. None for Campbell.
  • Examined each of the four, but none were for 1840 or thereabouts.
  • Searched for all Smiths in Campbell County, no entries as early as 1840
  • Searched for all Smiths statewide in 1840; 14 results, but none for a similar name or initial and none for April 1840.

Can you share a link to the actual page or upload an image of it--along with the title page of that transcribed book?

The Editor

Lemon Stand
Lemon Stand's picture

Paulette

EE
EE's picture

Paulette,

The many different media through which materials come to us today do create a barrel of worms for us to sort through when we attempt to analyze and identify a record.

In this case, you have three separate things to cite—each of which will be a separate “layer” of the citation:

  • Layer 1: the actual WPA typescript that you can eyeball via an image;
  • Layer 1: the provider of that image and its publication data;
  • Layer 3: the source-of-its-source data that the provider gives us.

The QuickStart guide tipped in as frontispiece to the last two editions of EE provides an overview of how these layers work. So does QuickLesson 19: Layered Citations Work Like Layered Clothing.

There is one cardinal rule we must observe: information that belongs to one layer must never be mixed with another layer. Doing so will misidentify the information.

Against this backdrop, let’s look at your draft citation and work through several issues:

Campbell County, Tennessee. Tennessee Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008 [database on-line], Will, Bonds and Inventories, 1807-1841  6: 271, img281, Wiley Smith Estate Inventory, Apr 1840; transcription, digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 15 Jun 2017); citing Probate Court, Campbell County, Tennessee.

(1)

“Campbell County, Tennessee” appears here as the creator of the record. Then you identify the record as "Tennessee Wills and Probate Records 1779-2008 [database …]."  But Campbell County, Tennessee, did not create that database. Ancestry created that database. This is an example of the confusion that results when we mix identifying details from one layer with identifying details from another.  As an another example, the citation tells us to look for “Will, Bonds and Inventories, 1807-1841  6: 271, img281.”  If we were at the Campbell County courthouse using this book, we would not have an “img 281” to look for. If we were at the Tennessee State Archives using its microfilm from which Ancestry made its images, we would not find an “img 281” on that film, because the film carries no images. “Image 281” applies only to the Ancestry database.

(2)

Campbell County, Tennessee, did not actually create the material that you are eyeballing. That material was created by the Works Progress Administration, which made its own typescript of material in the Campbell County courthouse. In creating its typescript, the WPA workers invariably made mistakes that don’t appear in the original record book at the courthouse. It is important that our citation (and our analysis of the record) make this distinction. In using this typescript, we are not using the original book.  (EE 13.49-13.51 covers citations to these WPA typescripts.)

(3)

This distinction between the original record book and the typescript also affects the accuracy of your citation, wherein you say: “Wills, Bonds and Inventories, 1807-1841 6:271.”  The item of your interest is indeed on p. 271 of the typescript. However, it’s on page 422 of the original volume that you actuallly cite in lieu of the typescript.

(4)

A website (being a standalone item, published online) is cited like a published book. An individual database at a website is cited like an individual chapter in a published book that has different chapters created by different authors.  The customary practice among all citation styles (dating back centuries) is for book titles to the italicized, while the chapter titles appear in quotation marks. Therefore, when you construct your title, the name of the website (Ancestry) should appear in italics. The name of Ancestry’s database, “Tennessee Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008” should be in quotation marks. That database title should not be in italics as though it were an individual website or a book.  (EE 2.32 has the basic guidelines for citing online materials. EE 2.68 has the basic guidelines for use of italics vs. quotation marks.)

(5)

As noted at EE 13.49, the WPA typescripts were not traditionally published (which, in that era, meant a printing house setting type to run x-number of copies for distribution and sale).  However, multiple copies were made at the time—typically using carbon paper and onionskin by which, say, 4 or 5 or 6 copies might be made from one typing—and placed at various libraries where they were bound and cataloged as books. Thus, we cite a WPA typescript of a record book in the same manner in which we would cite a book.

(6)

EE would assemble the citation this way (for this example, I’m putting each layer in a different color):

Works Progress Administration, Records of Campbell County, Tennessee; Will Bonds Inventories Vol. 6 1807-1841, Edna Lambert, compiler (Nashville: WPA, 1936), p. 271, typescript of Wiley Smith Estate Inventory, April 1841 (p. 422 of original register); imaged in “Tennessee Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008,” database, Ancestry (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=9176: accessed 19 June 2017) > Campbell County > Wills, Bonds and Inventories, Vol 6, 1807-1841 > image 281; citing “Tennessee County, District and Probate Courts.”

You could, if you wished, add a fourth layer to say something such as: “a study of the images indicates that Ancestry has digitized a filmed copy made by the Genealogical Society of Utah, but the film number is not cited.

Regarding Layer 1, the author of the typescript is officially the WPA. All the data you copied from the start of the film names a slew of WPA officials, but at the bottom it cites one "worker"—the person who actually did the typing/compiling: Edna Lambert. Both the agency and the person need to be identified for their creation of the actual item that you used: the typescript.

Regarding Layer 2—the citation to Ancestry’s database—you’ll notice that I’ve cited Ancestry’s home page with the waypoints we click to take us down the path to the image. We have various options here.

  • We could just cite the database and its ULR, on the premise that the details given in Layer 1 would then be used to fill out the search box to find the entry. Ordinarily that works; but, as I noted yesterday, that did not work in this case.
  • We could cite the database and the exact URL for the image itself—which worked today, but might not work after some reconfiguration goes on behind the scenes by Ancestry’s IT techs. (You’ll find various threads in this forum that discuss the impermanency of these long URLs.)
  • We could cite the database and the root URL, along with the waypoints that we choose and click. At present, this seems to be the most long-lasting way of identifying material in databases of this type.

The Editor

Lemon Stand
Lemon Stand's picture

  This brings up a couple things I had not thought about. (like knowing the numbers in brackets on the typescript were numbers of the actual page of the original. I thought it was an item number)

   I noticed the URL you used took me to the particular database search page. I usually only put http://ancestry.com as the reference because, as you said, these things change. I may have gotten the wrong impression over the years but I wish I had tried this more detailed site address long ago.  It would have made life infinitely easier for both me and any who came afterward. :)

   Unfortunately, I found this entry for Wiley Smith by accident. (I often skim books that someone could be listed in because people are often missed in both the original made at the time it was recorded or when the index is transcribed, whether for transcription or digitization, or both.) I was skimming every page of this particular book for someone else when I came across it and figured out it was not listed anywhere in the finding aids.  

   This database was only mildly indexed for want of a more politely accurate description. A slew of others are also not listed. Wish I could write a warning for others about it.  (should I mention this in my citation?)

   Anyway, this is why I wanted to be very clear about where I found it so others who are also researching this family could find it.  I obviously did a very poor job as you could not follow my breadcrumb trail back to the source which is how I look on an accurate and successful citation.  I have the book Evidence Explained 2d ed. 2012 but did not figure out how to look for the layered citation you just illuminated for me.

   I believe you also answered a question I did not ask and that is how to cite a database within a database as this looked like by the way it is organized.  

imaged in “Tennessee Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008,” database, Ancestry (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=9176: accessed 19 June 2017) > Campbell County > Wills, Bonds and Inventories, Vol 6, 1807-1841 > image 281

As a whole this database included many registers for many counties with each county listed separately and then each book listed as separate database.  You could do a search on each individual database or book separately but because of the nature of the beast I wasn't sure anything indexed in a sub database would be indexed on the whole. (which I have run across on a different website)  

   I felt this was important because as you found out, looking for this entry by the usual search methods did not work. I had thought about including the exact web address but as you stated, these often change.

   WOW! Ok, this has brought home to me how much I do not know about citations and how I should not be so reliant on my Legacy Genealogy software to do the constructing of them for me.

    You have explained what to do in this case so clearly! Thank you so much for taking such time and pains to help me with this. Looks like it's time to stop researching for a time to take the lessons you refer to. (which I did not realize were available to just anyone) In the end I know it will be time well spent.

Paulette

EE
EE's picture

Paulette, when it comes to sources, we're all still learning--and the world keeps presenting them in new ways faster than we can learn how to deal with the old ones. 

No, you should not say you did a "poor job." You captured many of the essentials, which gives others fodder to work with. With time, others could find it.

As for skimming those original registers page-by-page to find all the things that aren't indexed, you are a thousand miles ahead of the herd. With county registers, most of the individual names they carry—whether we are using them on-site, on film, or online—are not indexed. If we don't skim those registers and loose papers, we'll end up with only a fraction of the material that exists on our person-of-interest.

The Editor