Following up on QuickLesson 12

 
 
 
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newonash
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Following up on QuickLesson 12

The suggested citation at the end of the lesson has as the title of the record:  "Record of Marriages, October 1, 1885 - December 31, 1889, Male, L - Z."  My understanding is that the use of quotation marks signifies that the actual name of a record is being given rather than a generic description.  I am wondering whether this is really the title of this volume, i.e., is this what we would find on the record's cover or spine or title page?  Since there is no image of the volume's cover (or any title page), we really don't know.  The website might have expressly told us that this was the actual title for the volume, but I couldn't find any such express statement.  For all we know, "Record of Marriages, October 1, 1885 - December 31, 1889, Male, L - Z" is simply a description by the website's creator of what information is inside the volume.  Given the number of years included and the fact that the marriages inside start in October (rather than January), I think it very unlikely that the volume has imprinted on it "Record of Marriages, October 1, 1885 - December 31, 1889, Male L - Z."  My thought then is that the quotation marks should not be in the citation.

EE
EE's picture

Newonash,

The use of quotation marks around a string of words means that we are quoting. If we use a manuscript volume that carries a title on its cover and we quote that title exactly, then we use quotation marks. If a manuscript volume does not carry a title and we create a generic description, then we do not use quotation marks around our own words. If a website presents a set of records or a microfilm series (as did the one treated in QuickLesson 12), and the website applies a specific label to that set of records or that microfilm (as this one did), and we quote that label exactly, then—yes—we use quotation marks around the words we copied.

You also commented: "Given the number of years included and the fact that the marriages inside start in October (rather than January), I think it very unlikely that the volume has imprinted on it 'Record of Marriages, October 1, 1885 - December 31, 1889, Male L - Z'."

The archival world—including county courthouses—is indeed replete with manuscript volumes that carry dates of similar spans. Record keepers had many reasons to start or end a book in the middle of the year. Most often, it happened when the clerk simply used up all the pages in that register. If he used up a register on October 1, 1885, then a new volume began on October 1 or 2, 1885. In other situations, a register began in the middle of the year or at the start of a new quarter (as with October 1) because those records were mandated by a new law that stipulated a beginning date. In this case, if you click on QL 12's link called "Description," you'll be taken to the Pennsylvania website's archival description of this record group, where we are told " The Bureau of Vital Statistics was established in 1885 by the statute that created the Department of Health." 

You'll also find amid EE's citation models various volumes that begin and end on similarly "random" dates.

Hope this helps!

The Editor

newonash
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Thanks for the feedback.

I don't disagree with you at all that there are plenty of volumes spanning time other than a 12-month calendar year, one reason, among many, being the one that you mentioned:  when a clerk used up all the pages in one register and then started using another register.  I was simply trying to say, probably inartfully, that under such and similar circumstances the manufacturer of such volumes would not have anticipated what the first date in the new volume would be (and obviously would not have been able to anctipate the ultimate ending date in the new register  as well) and therefore the volume sent to the clerk by the manufacturer would not have had titles on them, i.e., words on the spines or the covers, that said something like "City of Boston, Marriages, July 14, 1871 - March 7, 1876."  Perhaps the words on the spine or cover might be "City of Boston, Marriages," which I would understand to be the title, and therefore would put in quotation marks in a citation, but to me the July 14, 1871 - March 7, 1876, not being emblazoned on the volume, would be descriptive of the entries rather than being part of the title, and I would not use quotation marks for the dates.  Or to put it another way, if a register book actually had the words "City of Boston, 1860, Births, Females, A - M" on the cover/spine and all the entries in that register were the names of males who died in 1862 whose last names begain with the letters N - Z, then to me the title would be "City of Boston, 1860, Birth, Females, A - M", regardless of the fact that the entries didn't match.

Thus, even though the website "labels" the volume as "Record of Marriages, October 1, 1885 - December 31, 1889, Male, L - Z," my thinking was that that cannot possibly be the actual title of the volume; consequently, it's just a description of the entries found in the volume.  Thus we are left with no knowledge of the actual title, if any, of the volume, and nothing to put in quotation marks.  That doesn't take away from your approach of using a website label as a title in a citation.

Maybe I'm too focused on my perceived idea of what "title" means.

Dennis

EE
EE's picture

Dennis, you are right that any register manufacturer/supplier who shipped blank books to a record office would not have printed odd dates on them in advance. Dates and lengthy titles typically were printed on the flat front cover by a local printer, after a register closed out or when a volume was rebound for preservation some years later. When we see them on the spine itself, they more often signal a rebinding.

 

 

The Editor

newonash
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Thank you.  I did not know that titles were printed on covers after registers were closed or rebound.  That makes me feel a lot better that the "Record of Marriages, October 1, 1885 - December 31, 1889, Male, L - Z" as part of the website is referring to an actual title of the register rather than just being descriptive, and therefore I'm more comfortable in using quotation marks for it in this particular citation (and for citations of my own in similar circumstances), although I'm still mulling it over since I don't know for sure.

Dennis

EE
EE's picture

Dennis,

"Mulling it over" is a quite valuable trait in a researcher!

The Editor