Comma separated list within citation...

 
 
 
17 posts / 0 new
Last post
jdchess78
jdchess78's picture
Comma separated list within citation...

Here's one I've wondered about.

How would you include a comma separated list of items within a citation? For example, a probate record package or file might include a will, inventory papers and other adminstrative papers. If I wanted to identify all three types in a citation, how would I do that? If it were only two types, then a simple "and" would suffice (will and inventory papers), but three seems to require a comma separated list (will, inventory, and administrative papers). Can you simply drop it in, or do the commas from the list reduce clarity? Would something else work better?

 

"South Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1670–1980," digital images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : 2015), will, inventory, and administrative papers, Shirley Whatley, 5 July 1852, Edgefield District; citing...

 

 

EE
EE's picture

jdchess, to answer your spcific question, often it is a matter of juggling words to find the clearest expression of our intent. The two basic grammar rules that apply are these:

  1. Items in a series are separated by commas, with an "and" before the last item (as you've noted).
  2. When one item in the series carries internal commas, then we substitute semicolons for the major divisions.  (Example: Flags were on vivid display: the red, white, and blue of the United States; the red and yellow of Spain; the red, white, and green of Italy …)

In citations, things get more complicated. A complex citation may already have semicolons to separate the major divisions—as with layered citations. In those cases, we can sometimes clarify matters by adding bridge words rather than a punctuation mark. To use your example:

To better clarify divisions between items, we might handle that string of commas this way:

"South Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1670–1980," digital images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : 2015), will, inventory, and administrative papers for Shirley Whatley, 5 July 1852, Edgefield District; citing...

However ....

In the case at hand, we might reconsider the wisdom of featuring the database as the first element of our citation and then clumping all the significant records in to the field where we normally cite a specific database item. Especially should we consider this when we are not citing the database entry at all—but, rather, citing an image of the actual record.  The approach above raises a number of issues.

In the citation above, you have three separate documents but just one date. For certain, all those documents don’t carry the date 5 July 1852. Which document does the date represent? What are the dates for the other documents? Is this a probate case that was settled in the same year the will was written or does it string across several years?

We also need book: page identification—or collection: file identification—for each record cited. Which one of those documents supports the assertion to which you are attaching this citation?

When I call up this database at Ancestry and type “Shirley Whatley” into the name field of the search form, with “1852” as the year and “Edgefield” as the county, I get no results. When I choose “browse” for the database and then select Edgefield, I’m given two separate options. Within those options, I’m given many other options that break down by dates (with overlapping dates between the options) and by record type (bound registers vs. packets of loose papers).  How do we go about finding the specific document(s) that support whatever assertion you are making in your research files?

A record such as this really begs for a different approach. Layer 1 needs to cite the original record. Layer 2, then, would say it was imaged in “Database Title,” Website Title (URL : date), path > ____ > _____ > [down to the actual image that supports your assertion]

QuickLesson 25 goes into more instruction on paths (aka waypoints) at https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-25-arks-pals-paths-waypoints-citing-online-providers-digital-images. EE has numerous other examples at 7.18, 8.18, 8.24, 9.9, 10.6, 10.39.

The Editor

jdchess78
jdchess78's picture

In regards to the search, the 5 July 1852 date came from the front cover of the probate package, but it would seem that Ancestry neglected to add a date to the database for this entry. If you search for Shirley Whatley with no other identifiers, it will yield the correct search result.

In regards to the date, as I said, the date is from the front cover of the package. Should that not be the date used in the citation assuming you are citing the package as a whole? I do understand that there is a difference in citing the entire file vs. citing a single document from the file.

Lastly, thank you for offering a different approach to citing this database. I have typically cited Ancestry databases (and other online databases) in the same manner, with the database title first, then the record and names, and finally source of source info. When using the approach you mentioned...

 

"A record such as this really begs for a different approach. Layer 1 needs to cite the original record. Layer 2, then, would say it was imaged in “Database Title,” Website Title (URL : date), path > ____ > _____ > [down to the actual image that supports your assertion]"

Would there be a third layer for cource of source information as in the way I have typically cited Ancestry databases?

jdchess78
jdchess78's picture

Ok. I read through the QuickLesson 25 and I think I understand the different approach and the reasoning behind it. How about this try at the same record (again, citing the case file as a whole)...

 

 

Edgefield District, South Carolina, probate case file, box 58, package 2428, Shirley Whatley, 5 July 1852; imaged in "South Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1670–1980," database and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : 2015) > Probate Records, Boxes 57–58, Packages 2354–2433 > images 742–749 of 827; citing...

 

How does that look? I'm assuming that the answer to my last question in my previous post (#3) is that the third layer with source of source info is still needed and useful, and would immediately follow the "citing" at the end of the above example. At the very least, am I on the right track here? 

 

jdchess78
jdchess78's picture

Correction to previous post...I forgot to include "Edgefield" as the first waypoint after the database title. It should be...

 

 

Edgefield District, South Carolina, probate case file, box 58, package 2428, Shirley Whatley, 5 July 1852; imaged in "South Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1670–1980," database and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : 2015) > Edgefield > Probate Records, Boxes 57–58, Packages 2354–2433 > images 742–749 of 827; citing...

EE
EE's picture

jdchess, your last draft works—with the exception of the date, which I'll discuss below. Your reasoning in messages 4 and 5 is on target.

As for citing a file versus a document: There are some instances in which we might cite an entire file; but almost always our citations will be to the document, not the file. As an analogy: when we cite a book, we don't usually just cite the book without saying where in the book one looks to find what we've asserted. We identify the book, and then we cite the specific page, plate, or part. Document files work the same way. We don't take a specific piece of information from the file as a whole. We take that piece of information from a specific document; so we cite that document, the creator of that specific document, and the date of that specific document.  Sometimes, a piece of information  might appear in multiple documents, in which case we'd cite them both or all of them.

As for the date: within a file, different documents involve different people and different sets of circumstances. When we take a piece of information from a specific document, we need to know the date that information was valid, or the date that event occurred. or the date that Persons A, B, and C participated in that event. This date affects our analysis of the data in endless ways. In those relatively rare occasions when it is appropriate to cite a whole probate case, whatever date we cite for the case needs to be explained as to what that date represents. In this case, would it be the date that probate was opened? Or the date probate was finalized?

As for a layer 3 (citing the source of your source), most of the data is already cited in the first layer. In layer 3, you might add where Ancestry says that record set is located.

 

The Editor

jdchess78
jdchess78's picture

I understand your last point...

"As for a layer 3 (citing the source of your source), most of the data is already cited in the first layer. In layer 3, you might add where Ancestry says that record set is located."

 

Most of the examples from EE citing online image copies of original records with an emphasis on the originals vary slightly between local records vs. state and federal records. It seems that when citing local town or county records, the first layer (the citation to the original), omits the local repository, such as a courthouse or register of deeds office; however, when citing state or federal records, such as records at state or national archives, the first layer (the citation to the original), includes the phycial repository of the original. I'm curious as to the reason for the difference. If the purpose was for someone to be able to locate the original in addition to the online copy, would not the physical repository info be useful?

The "Online Images" section at 10.33 is an example of layer one omitting the physical repository for a local record.

EE
EE's picture

jd, how we handle the source-of-the-source layer depends upon what we are viewing and what the provider tells us. It's not an issue of local vs. state vs. federal.  In other words, it's usually determined by the provider's logistics than the nature of the original.

Typically, we have one of these three situations:

  • The images are self-identifying—as when we are given an image of the book cover, an image of a filmer's target identifying the creator and holder of the record, and an image of the full page or document. In that case, then all of that information would go in Layer 1 where we identify the record. Layer 2 would then identify the provider of the images by "Database," Website Title (URL : Date). We might not even need a Layer 3.
  • The images are self-identifying, etc., but the provider tells us that its source was not the original record itself. Instead, it imaged from something else—as when a provider makes images from NARA or FHL or state-archive microfilm. In that case, we'd add a Layer 3 and say "citing .... [whatever the provider gives as its source]."
  • The images are not completely self-identifying—in which case our Layer 1 will provide as much of the identifying information as we can discern from the images. Layer 2 would then identify the provider, and Layer 3 would say "citing .... [whatever the provider gives as its source]."

 

The Editor

jdchess78
jdchess78's picture

My question was really in regards to whether or not the physical location or repository of the original should be used in the first layer when citing an online image of an original record. I was curious as to why it's not included in local county and town records, but is included when citing state and federal records. I don't clearly understand the difference.

EE
EE's picture

jdchess, when we use an image online, we're not at the physical location. If our provider tells us the physical location, we put that information in the last layer, saying that our provider is citing [whatever].

In that first layer, where we are identifying the image(s) we use, we are identifying what is imaged, what we can see, and what we can verify with our own eyes.  Many times, the location cited by the provider is not where the item is today because offices have changed names, consolidated, and/or disbanded and records have been moved to new locations. This situation exists whether the image is microfilm or a digital image online.

Conversely, if we are citing records at the state archives or the federal archives—records we are using onsite—we certainly can verify that the records are at that facility. We're not just repeating what somebody told us.

The Editor

jdchess78
jdchess78's picture

I think I may have asked the question incorrectly. I am only talking about online images. My reference to state and federal archive records was still in regards to online images. I wasn't talking about using the records onsite. My point was that there are differences presented between the way to create a layered citation for an online image of a local county record vs. an online image of a state or federal record. EE 10.33 (Property and Probates), states the following in regards to a layered citation for an online county-level record (emphasis mine)...

 

"The Missouri example, below, cites image copies of original case files created at the county level. Therefore, you would cite that original case file in the manner that is customary for county- or town-level case files. Then, instead of stating the physical location of the original case, you would state the virtual location of the digital files."

 

I have no problem understanding this; however, if I had a question about it, it would be why not include the physical location of the original if known. That would seem to be valuable information should the online version be removed for whatever reason. Now, on the other side of the coin...

In almost all examples I can find of state and federal level records, when citing an online image using a layered citation, the first layer includes the physical repository of the original record. For example, a state-level record from QuickLesson 19...

 

Original document digitized by & accessed through an online providerwith emphasis on document:

     Thomas Dunn file, Revolutionary War Bounty Warrants; Executive Department Office of the Governor, Record Group 3, Virginia State Archives, Richmond; consulted through “Online Catalog: Basic Search: Rev. Bounty Warrants,” database with digital images, The Library of Virginia(http://lva1.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/F/?func=file&file_name=find-b-clas39&local_base=CLAS39 : accessed 5 March 2016).

 

Also, when citing a Revolutionary War pension file, the first layer would include the specific document, the file unit, the series, the subgroup, the record group, and then "National Archives, Washington D.C." would be included before the second layer would state "imaged in "The National Archives Catalog," etc. I have yet to see a layered citation example for a National Archives record that gave everything except the repositry in the first layer. So what I am trying to understand is the reason for the difference between town and county level records vs. state and federal level records in regards to the repository of the original when citing an online image.

 

In a post from 3/14/17 (link to full thread), in a discussion regarding the use of permalinks and citing online images, you said the following in regards to creating a layered citation for an online image (italics and emphasis are mine)...

 

"In these cases, we're creating a layered citation. The first layer cites, in full and proper form, the entity we choose to emphasize. The second layer cites, in full format, the one we're subordinating.  If many cases, we also have a third layer that tells us what our source identifies as its own source. For that layer, the emphasis is not on "proper form"; we copy what the website says it has used."

 

I would assume by full and proper form, you meant a full citation that would stand on it's own without additional layers. This would seem to be inline the state and federal examples, but counter to the county level examples.

 

What I'm trying to understand is..

Why do you omit the repository in the first layer of a county level record citation, but include it in the first layer of a federal level record citation?

 

EE
EE's picture

jdchess, it will be tomorrow before I can answer this. In the meanwhile, have you examined the 10.33 set of records, at the cited link, to see what "repository" you might cite for this particular "county level record"?

The Editor

EE
EE's picture

jdchess, have you had time yet to examine the 10.33 set of records, at the cited link, to see what "repository" you might cite for those records?  This would give us a common ground for analyzing the situation there. As I noted earlier, this is not a local-state vs. federal records situation. We're not actually in those repositories. We're online using the images--and arrangement of images--delivered by the online provider. Some providers arrange and deliver through one scheme, some use another.

The Editor

jdchess78
jdchess78's picture

Your point is understood regarding citing a document vs the entire file. Is a single citation ok for a small group of documents from the file that form a cohesive group? For example, a particular Revolutionary War window's pension file contains four Family Bible register pages (two "Births," one "Marriages," and one "Deaths") that were presented as documentation for the pension claim (along with sworn testimony as to their origin and validity). If several dates were pulled from these four pages, could they be cited as a group, or would each really need it's own citation?

EE
EE's picture

Yes, that would seem to be the most practical approach, jdchess.

The Editor

jdchess78
jdchess78's picture

Also, in regards to citing an image, where we cite the original in the first layer and the database in which it is imaged in the second layer...

If the database image was taken from a microfilm copy, would that first cite the original document or the microfilm of the original?

Asking another way, would the first layer cite the original document, then the second layer cite the database ("imaged in"), and then the third layer cite the microfilm since that's the source of the database?

EE
EE's picture

Yes, too. Layer 1 would be the record whose image you are using. Layer 2 would identify the provider. Layer 3 (source of the source) would cover what your provider tells you about the microfilm collection or what you can glean from eyeballing the images of the film.

The Editor