Recent comments

  • Reply to: Which date to use from 19th century birth certificate?   4 days 8 hours ago

    Thank you. Just what I was thinking.


  • Reply to: Citing transcribed records   1 week 11 hours ago

    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.

  • Reply to: Citing transcribed records   1 week 12 hours ago

      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 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 ( 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.

  • Reply to: Funeral Programs and Cards   1 week 2 days ago

    Yes, History Hunter, you may correct the punctuation.  As stated in EE 12.26 Titles, Punctuation & Capitalization:

    "... titles often do not follow standard rules of punctuation or capitalization. Many typesetters omit punctuation marks at the ends of lines when they set a title on the cover or the title page. If you convert that layout to a citation without adding the punctuation, the result would be poor grammar or syntax. In other cases, the author may have used personal preferences rather than standard conventions. You may silently correct punctuation and capitalization problems in your source citation. Simply use correct procedures for the language in which you are writing."
    We might nit-pick one point: The phrase "unindexed digital image" implies that there's some master index at the museum from which this has been omitted. Based on what you describe a couple of messages above, "digital image of uncatalogued item suppplied by ... " would possibly be more precise.
  • Reply to: Citing transcribed records   1 week 2 days ago


    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, Operations, Inc., ( : accessed 15 Jun 2017); citing Probate Court, Campbell County, Tennessee.


    “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.


    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.)


    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.


    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.)


    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.


    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 ( 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.