How does one cite the "ever changing" ScotlandsPeople?

Dear Editor;

ScotlandsPeople seems to have changed frequently over the last 15 or more years. It comes as no surprise that the example in section 9.56 of my 3rd ed. copy of EE doesn't help to cite the current website structure.

There is no longer a, “Statutory Births 1855–2013,” collection. It has been renamed. 

To reach the relevant search page, one now needs to select Advanced Search > Statutory Registers > Births from the main URL, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.

Once there, the search-page title is simply, "Births".

So; would the following citation make sense?

(I assume that the page number (p. 280) or entry number (entry no. 838) need not be included, since the entry number already forms part of the cited reference number.)

-------------------------

Source List Entry

“Statutory RegistersBirths.” Database and images. ScotlandsPeoplehttp://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : 2019. 

First Reference Note

“Statutory RegistersBirths,” database and images, ScotlandsPeople (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : downloaded 16 March 2003), image, birth registration, Charles Murison, born 19 November 1891, registered 9 December 1891, District of Plantation, County of Lanark; citing Statutory Birth Registers no. 646/1 838

Subsequent Note

“Statutory RegistersBirths,” ScotlandsPeople, image, birth registration, Charles Murison, born 19 November 1891, registered 9 December 1891, Plantation, Lanark. 

 

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Sun, 05/05/2019 - 08:14

Addendum:

1) I would have tried a "trail of breadcrumbs" style of citation for this site, but read in one of the posts that it was not recommended . That said; would the new site structure now make it a viable option?

2) I'm not sure that using quotation marks around the collection would be correct in this case, since it is not a literal cut an paste.

3) I used the "dash" notation in naming the collection, but something tells me a colon might be more appropriate. The "births" are something like a subsection of a chapter in a book.

Submitted byEEon Sun, 05/05/2019 - 09:39

History-Hunter, EE maintains a subscription with many different record providers for its own research needs, but ScotlandsPeople is not currently one of them. With regard to the three issues you raise in your second message:

1. When a site's database is structured so that we access material through a series of menu choices, rather than just querying a database for a name, then the "path" approach is usually necessary. (EE 10.6, 10.35, 10.39, and discussion at 11.33, for example)

2. Quotation marks are used around any three words that we copy exactly from another source (EE 2.6). Normally, we do not put collection names in quotation marks. When a titled manuscript is in a collection, we put quotation marks around the title of the manuscript, but we do not do that for a collection. (EE 2.22)

3. Dashes are commonly used to separate two things of equal weight or to add more emphasis to something we want to set off. Colons are used to separate two things when the second part is subservient to the first, as with Title: Subtitle or volume:page (EE 2.63, 2.65)

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Sun, 05/05/2019 - 19:36

Dear Editor;

Given your responses, it would appear that the citation of ScotlandsPeople would now follow a format very similar to what I've been using for Ancestry. However; it is complicated by the need to incorporate a sufficient number of search terms to minimize the resulting list. Once one has the list of results, supplying the  reference number is sufficient to display the desired image.

Technically; one could use no search terms and subsequently search a very long list for the specified reference number. There is, unfortunately, no way that I can see to specify the reference number directly. If there were, crafting the citation would be far more simple.

As a result; I've come up with the following "trial" citation, as a basis for further comments.

Source List Entry

Statutory Registers: Births. Database and images. ScotlandsPeoplehttp://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : 2019. 

First Reference Note

Statutory Registers: Births, database and images, ScotlandsPeople (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : downloaded 16 March 2003) > Advanced people search > Statutory registers > Births, search terms: "Murison [surname], Charles [forename], Male [gender], 1891 [to] 1891 [year range]", ref. 646/1 838, image of birth registration for Charles Murison, born 19 November 1891, registered 9 December 1891, District of Plantation, County of Lanark. 

Subsequent Note

Statutory Registers: Births, ScotlandsPeople, image, birth registration, Charles Murison, born 19 November 1891, registered 9 December 1891, Plantation, Lanark. 

Submitted byEEon Mon, 05/06/2019 - 10:31

Thanks, History-Hunter, for supplying a helpful example to use for ScotlandsPeople's current iteration. Including the search terms is a necessary strategy in many cases. One question: is there a reason why you left off the quotation marks around the database title?

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Mon, 05/06/2019 - 14:32

Dear Editor;

I will add the quotation marks back in.

One of your previous statements (see below) led me to believe that the collection name should not be quoted. However; I really wasn't sure what your intent was, since I have been using quotes around collection names (whether more than three words or not) in other examples I've posted. Could you clarify a bit?

"2. Quotation marks are used around any three words that we copy exactly from another source (EE 2.6). Normally, we do not put collection names in quotation marks. When a titled manuscript is in a collection, we put quotation marks around the title of the manuscript, but we do not do that for a collection. (EE 2.22)".

If you wouldn't mind, for future reference, could you comment on any rules for stating multiple search terms in a citation? What I did was just my best guess based on the single search-term example I'd seen in EE 3rd ed. and the syntax sections of the same book. I'm happy to see my extrapolation skills are working.

History-Hunter, even in citations, sometimes one rule bumps up against another. Usually (as in this case), it's a situation in which a rule applies in Situation A but doesn't in Situation B because it would create confusion in Situation B. By longstanding convention when citing manuscript material, we use quotation marks around the exact title of the manuscript (when it has an exact title), but we don't use them for the collection, series, subgroup, and record group. That way, anyone reading our citation (or we a later date after our recollection has gone cold) will be able to instantly identify the manuscript as opposed to the record heirarchy in which it is filed.  For example, see EE 11.53:

   1.  “Record of Employee’s Prior Service” (Form AA-2P), filed 3 March 1941, Leonard Ray Anderson pension file, Social Security no. 702078940, 1941; Records of the Railroad Retirement Board, 1934–, National Archives Record Group 184; RRB–Congressional Inquiry Section, Chicago, Illinois.

If we used quotation marks around every element in this archival heirarchy,  we'd have this:

 1. “Record of Employee’s Prior Service” (Form AA-2P), filed 3 March 1941, "Leonard Ray Anderson" pension file, "Social Security no. 702078940"1941; "Records of the Railroad Retirement Board, 1934–," "National Archives Record Group 184": "RRB–Congressional Inquiry Section," Chicago, Illinois.

That plethora of quotation marks would not make the entry clearer--which is why, a hundred or more years ago--some unnamed individuals decided that document titles would carry quotation marks, but the units of the filing system would not.

 

Re writing rules for the use of search terms, that's a quagmire EE has decided not to wade into. We're not convinced rules are needed for that in a citation or that they would create a positive benefit.

Dear Editor;

I think I see how to attack search terms. If I put double quotes around the whole search term expression and single quotes around the explicit search terms themselves, it seems to make sense. I believe I’ve seen something about this in the EE book.

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Thu, 05/09/2019 - 16:01

Dear Editor;

I have updated the citation to correct the quotations and also to utilize the search criteria that the site conveniently prints out for the user. This will make it easier for others to use as an example.

Due to the site having been restructured since 2003, I've also added a note to explain that the image access instructions reflect the current method (rather than show the less than useful original instructions). As part of the restructuring, the website owners did not carry forward previously purchased record access permissions. This meant that I was not able to re-download the same image, just to update the download date.

Source List Entry

“Statutory Registers: Births.” Database and images. ScotlandsPeoplehttp://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : 2003. 

First Reference Note

“Statutory Registers: Births,” database and images, ScotlandsPeople (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : downloaded 9 March 2003) > Advanced people search > Statutory registers > Births, search terms: “Surname: 'Murison', Surname Option: 'Exact', Forename: 'Charles', Forename Option: 'Exact', Gender: 'M', From_year: '1891', To_year: '1891', County: 'LANARK',” ref. 646/1 838, image of birth registration for Charles Murison, born 19 November 1891, registered 9 December 1891, District of Plantation, County of Lanark. Record access instructions were updated, on 9 May 2019, from those used on the stated image download date.

Subsequent Note

“Statutory Registers: Births, ScotlandsPeople,” image, birth registration, Charles Murison, born 19 November 1891, registered 9 December 1891, Plantation, Lanark.

Submitted byRobynRon Sat, 05/11/2019 - 22:49

Dear HistoryHunter,

Here is a helpful page on the NRS website:

https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research/guides/birth-death-and-marriage-records/statutory-registers-of-births-deaths-and-marriages

I am using the following structure for my ScotlandsPeople downloaded images.

National Records of Scotland, "Statutory Registers of Deaths," database with images, ScotlandsPeople  (https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/ : accessed 29 June 2018); digital image, Margaret Pryde death registration, died 14 December 1883, registered 18 December 1883, District of St George, City of Edinburgh; citing Statutory Registers no. 685/1 1278.

I decided to keep the "Statutory Registers of Deaths," as the database title (as I have way too many to go back and change) but also if you google that title, the first thing to come up is:

Image removed.

and you look at this page, it clearly states:

Today the records are available as index-linked digital images on our ScotlandsPeople website, in the ScotlandsPeople Centre and at Local Family History Centres.

 

Regards,

Robyn

Robyn, the upload limit is 1MB. It should be stated at the bottom of your screen, along with a list of file types:

1 MB limit.
Allowed types: png txt doc docx log msg odt ods rtf pdf tiff ping bmp gif jpg jpeg xls csv dat pps ppt.

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Tue, 06/04/2019 - 09:14

Dear Editor;

Having been able to recover my old ScotlandPeople Records, I've been reviewing how best to cite those records and have gained a few new insights into the naming of their collections. I really liked your QuickLesson on citing Ancestry records, so I put together a few notes on ScotlandsPeople, if using a similar approach. (See the earlier example of 05/09/2019 for the general citation structure I've been using.)

As an example, I'll use the Inventory for the estate of David Murison. However; the principle is similar for other collection types.

When one searches on their website, the search criteria are displayed along with the results. When one has narrowed the results to a single entry, one can then simply cut and paste the displayed search criteria into a reference note (surrounded by double-quotes). Rather handy, I think.

Surname: 'Murison', Surname Option: 'Exact', Forename: 'David', Forename Option: 'Starts', From_year: '1918', To_year: '1918', Court: 'Edinburgh Sheriff Court Inventories'

(There is one issue, of which one should be aware, when citing the collection on ScotlandsPeople. Their records are from the taken from the National Records Collections (NRS), the catalogue for which can be searched at http://catalogue.nrscotland.gov.uk/nrsonlinecatalogue/welcome.aspx. Unfortunately; ScotlandsPeople does not name their web-based collections using the same names as the title of the corresponding item  in the NRS catalogue. The catalogue is, however, handy for better understanding the provenance of the records.)

The search results page of ScotlandsPeople also contains a "title'.

Legal records - Wills and testaments - Search results

This is essentially defines the "collection" name that appears to be used by ScotlandsPeople, "Legal records - Wills and testaments." As there are other subdivisions of "Legal Records", as indicated by the path to get to the search page, I tend to record it as, "Legal records: Wills and testaments." The sub-sub-collection name is already in the search criteria, "Edinburgh Sheriff Court Inventories," so it shouldn't need to be restated elsewhere in the citation.

(On the NHS site this specific record, "[SC70/1/612]" is found in; "Records of H M Commissary Office, Edinburgh": "Record of Inventories (1808-1984)",  "23 May to 18 Jun 1918.")

Of course, as always, your feedback and suggested changes are always welcome. That is why I post such items.

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Tue, 06/04/2019 - 09:50

Dear Editor;

A thought about shortening the citation...

If the access path already reflects the hierarchal-based collection name, can one assume that the reader can find the "Wills and testaments" search form without an explicit path? If so; the path would not be required and one could just cite the URL for ScotlandsPeople.

(I am still open to using the original "-" in the collection name instead of ":".)

First Reference Note

FROM

“Legal Records: Wills and testaments,” database and images, ScotlandsPeople (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : downloaded 11 May 2019) > Advanced people search > Legal Records > Wills and testaments, search terms: “Surname: 'Murison', Surname Option: 'Exact', Forename: 'David', Forename Option: 'Exact', From_year: '1919', To_year: '1919', Court: 'Kilmarnock Sheriff Court Inventories',” ref. SC7/28/15, imaged pages 421-424, "Inventory of the personal estate of David Murison ... who died at Ardrossan, on the 5th day of February 1919," presented 23 August 1919, Kilmarnock, Scotland. There are two pages per image, which are numbered by the right-hand page number; 421, 423 and 425.

TO

“Legal Records: Wills and testaments,” database and images, ScotlandsPeople (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : downloaded 11 May 2019), search terms: “Surname: 'Murison', Surname Option: 'Exact', Forename: 'David', Forename Option: 'Exact', From_year: '1919', To_year: '1919', Court: 'Kilmarnock Sheriff Court Inventories',” ref. SC7/28/15, imaged pages 421-424, "Inventory of the personal estate of David Murison ... who died at Ardrossan, on the 5th day of February 1919," presented 23 August 1919, Kilmarnock, Scotland. There are two pages per image, which are numbered by the right-hand page number; 421, 423 and 425.

Submitted byEEon Wed, 06/05/2019 - 15:57

H-H, you write:

"When one has narrowed the results to a single entry, one can then simply cut and paste the displayed search criteria into a reference note (surrounded by double-quotes). Rather handy, I think.

Surname: 'Murison', Surname Option: 'Exact', Forename: 'David', Forename Option: 'Starts', From_year: '1918', To_year: '1918', Court: 'Edinburgh Sheriff Court Inventories'

Then you give an example:

“Legal Records: Wills and testaments,” database and images, ScotlandsPeople (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk : downloaded 11 May 2019), search terms: “Surname: 'Murison', Surname Option: 'Exact', Forename: 'David', Forename Option: 'Exact', From_year: '1919', To_year: '1919', Court: 'Kilmarnock Sheriff Court Inventories',” ref. SC7/28/15, imaged pages 421-424, "Inventory of the personal estate of David Murison ... who died at Ardrossan, on the 5th day of February 1919," presented 23 August 1919, Kilmarnock, Scotland. There are two pages per image, which are numbered by the right-hand page number; 421, 423 and 425.

The example works, at least until the website changes its labels on its search form. Your inclusion of the explanation "search terms" clarifies what otherwise would not be clear if someone were to simply post in the search terms without an explanation.

You also write:

(I am still open to using the original "-" in the collection name instead of ":".)

If we are using quotation marks around an exact title, the use of the hyphen here would be excused. But, as EE 2.65 points out: "the hyphen’s purpose is to connect, while the em dash’s purpose is to separate." As general rules:

  • Any time we use a hyphen between two words, we connect those words into a compound word.
  • If the intent is to separate two thoughts (or two parts of a title) then we use the longer em dash.
  • In a record, collection, or book title, the colon separates the title from the subtitle—a useful flag because in shortened citations, after the first full cite, we typically drop the subtitle.)

Notice that in the last sentence, I did not say:

the colon separates the title from the subtitle-a useful point because in shortened citations, after the first full cite, we typically drop the subtitle.  <g>

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Thu, 06/06/2019 - 11:29

Dear Editor;

I appreciate your taking the time to provide feedback.

With respect to:

"The example works, at least until the website changes its labels on its search form. Your inclusion of the explanation "search terms" clarifies what otherwise would not be clear if someone were to simply post in the search terms without an explanation."

There is currently no other way to access the ScotlandsPeople records, except via their search form. They are not browsable at all. There has been some discussion, on a Scotland-related Facebook forum, about the lack of conventional supporting source information on the ScotlandsPeople site. For the moment, I'm afraid we'll have to accept accessing records via the search form. Actually; the noted example was provided specifically to demonstrate that the added "search terms" verbiage was required for clarity. Currently; the only other way of providing a more conventional citation would be by physical visiting the, National Records of Scotland, HM General Register House, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 3YY and recording source information that is not accessible via pay-per-view site.

With respect to the use of ":" or "-":

"If we are using quotation marks around an exact title, the use of the hyphen here would be excused."

Given that the ScotlandsPeople site access is a bit unconventional and can be confusing, I think I'll opt for using an explicit quote of the collection name as it appears at the top of the search page results page. Unfortunately; it does use a hyphen. As implied in your comment, this would be excused [in the interests of providing a faithful quotation].

In short; I think that what I've suggested would likely provide a fairly consistent approach of citing any of the genealogical records on the current version of the ScotlandsPeoples site.

 

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Thu, 06/06/2019 - 11:53

Dear Editor;

As I was preparing my previous post, I received the following email (received 6 June 2019), in response to a query addressed to ScotlandsPeople. The folks at ScotlandsPeople have been exceptionally supportive in addressing any questions I've had about their records.

I think that I've addressed most of their recommendations in my suggested citation of material on their site, but you will undoubtably have some suggestions after reading their response.

In any case, their email may provide reference material for future editions of EE and help others in the meantime.

[header redacted for privacy]

Thank you for contacting the National Records of Scotland via the ScotlandsPeople website.

There isn't really a single prescriptive way to describe each record set; individual records don't necessarily have title pages like published books, and there will tend to be slight variations in different researchers' written descriptions depending on the citation style they are using. The record headers are mainly there to allow researchers to see the source of an image at a glance, with more detailed information on the administrative history of each record series available at https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/guides/record-guides-alphabetical and on the main NRS website at https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research/guides/a-z.

The records that come from the archival collections here at the National Records of Scotland—that is, testamentary records, military service appeal papers, valuation rolls, non-conformist church registers, emigration records, and maps and plans—will all have a catalogue reference, with a corresponding description available in our online catalogue at http://catalogue.nrscotland.gov.uk/nrsonlinecatalogue/search.aspx. These descriptions could be used as the basis for citation; they are, where applicable, based upon the description of the record used by the record creator.

When compiling citations, we would generally suggest including the name of the individual; the type of record/register (e.g. Register of Deaths, Register of Inventories for Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Parish Register for Peebles, Valuation Roll for Brechin Burgh); the date of the record; the reference number; and the repository responsible for the original records (this will be the National Records of Scotland unless otherwise stated on the image, e.g. with Catholic parish registers held by the Scottish Catholic Archives). You may also wish to include the URL and the date the record was accessed online, if compiling full references, and it would be advisable to note a page number/range if this doesn't form part of the reference number (as is the case with wills and testaments). I've included some notes on the nature of the reference codes used for different record sets on the ScotlandsPeople website below, in case this is helpful.

Statutory registers (i.e. Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages):

The first number in the reference is the registration district number (see here for a detailed guide to registration districts: https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research/guides/statutory-registers/registration-districts). Larger districts were subdivided into separate, smaller districts (so, for example, Edinburgh has the general RD number 684, but certain areas within the city will have a longer number such as 684/1 or 684/2). The final number is the unique entry number, and should correspond to the number in the 'No.' column on the record. Further guidance on parishes and districts can be found at https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/guides/parishes-and-districts.

Census records:

Similarly to the statutory registers, the census used the numbered registration districts, which were then subdivided into enumeration districts. The reference number for an individual record will be comprised of the RD number, the enumeration district number, then a page number (referring to the page in the original census volume). See here for further information: https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/guides/census-returns.

Old Parish Registers:

Again, every parish in Scotland was numbered by the Registrar General. You can find a list of these numbers, as well as guidance on what registers are held for each parish, at https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research/guides/old-parish-registers/list-of-old-parish-registers. The first part of an OPR reference number will be the parish number; the second will be the volume number; and the third will be the page number. In other words, a reference number of 683/12 200 means that the record has been found on page 200 of volume 12 of the Dalkeith Old Parish Registers (parish ref. 683).

Catholic parish registers:

The reference number on these records corresponds to the catalogue reference number given by the Scottish Catholic Archives.

Other church records:

The reference number on these records is the NRS catalogue reference. All of them should begin CH3 (the general series reference for non-Church of Scotland Presbyterian churches), and will then have a parish number and a volume number. You may wish to include the page number from the record itself if citing these records.

Wills and testaments:

Again, these will show the NRS catalogue reference number. This will either begin CC (for testaments registered in commissary courts) or SC (for testaments registered in a sheriff court). Commissary courts were abolished and their functions completely taken over by sheriff courts in 1876. Every court has its own catalogue reference code (so Edinburgh Commissary Court is CC8, Glasgow Sheriff Court is SC36, and so on). The other numbers given on an image downloaded from ScotlandsPeople will be a series and a volume reference. The volume reference, when entered into the online catalogue, will give you details of the volume's scope and content, e.g. CC18/3/1 - Register of Testaments, Peebles Commissary Court, 24 June 1681–17 October 1699).

Valuation rolls:

As with non-conformist church records and testamentary records, the reference number here directly corresponds to the NRS catalogue reference for the original volumes. It will begin with the letters VR.

Finally, guidance on permissible image use can be found in our copyright guide at https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/content/copyright.

I hope this information is of some assistance to you. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any additional queries.

Yours sincerely,

XXXXXXXXX [redacted for privacy}
Archivist (Digital Services),
National Records of Scotland