Local Archive but record obtained by a 3rd party

I have found a pretty important record that gives evidence to my hypothosis of the mother of my 3rd great grandfather.  All his adult records have him carrying his paternal last name "Gonzalez", but I suspected he was born illegitimately.  I found a census record that has him listed as a child, group together with a woman that has his mother's name, and also grouped with 2 children I was aware of, that carry her first husband's last name.  In the record, he has his mother's last name "Botello". 

The town in which they are from is in Mexico. Years ago, I found an inventory of the towns archive.  Through this inventory, a fellow researcher interested in this town as well, guided someone while he was remote, to the record collection and had pictures taken of a record, the 1853 census of the town, with a digital camera phone.  He later shared the collection with me where I found what I suspect is my family.  

I have struggled with the citation but decided it was best to start with 8.1 and 8.2 to name the original location for the document and using your suggestion to complete it with the repository, giving me plenty of room to tell this convoluted story at the end.  A layered citation was definitely in order.   Here is what i came up with:

Villa de Jimenez (Tamaulipas, Mexico), Censos, Caja 8, Exp. 5, 1853, unpaginated, Nestor Botello [Gonzales], census entry; Archivo Historico Municipal de Jimenez, Tamaulipas, Jimenez, Tamaulipas, Mexico; digital image of record taken 24 Jan 2018 by remote researcher under guidance of X. Xxxx of Dallas, Texas, emailed to Raul Gonzales Jr on 7 Mar 2021. Nestor in census within a few spaces of Petra Botello, his mother’s name, and Andres and Nasaria Equia, most likely Nestor’s half siblings.

I would appreciate any feedback.  Thank you

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Submitted byEEon Sat, 03/13/2021 - 09:52

Hello, agonzaleswithans.

Thank you for including a copy of the page. That helps. Some questions still remain; but, first, to your main concern:  Yes, the layered concept is appropriate, whether you are citing an online image or a document in an archive. In either case, the first layer is the identification of the document. The second layer is the identification of where you found the document—i.e., the archive or the website. If a third party obtains the record for us onsite at the archives, we tag that onto the end.

You reference EE 8.1 and 8.2.  EE 11.67 explicitly demonstrates citing a Mexican census, from a different archives.

Beyond that, your citation and the label that is on the image itself raise a couple of questions. 


Your citation begins  

“Villa de Jiminez … Censos, caja 8, Exp. 5, 1853, unpaginated, Nestor Botello


Town of Jiménez … Censuses [plural], Box 8, Ex______ [?] 5, unpaginated, name of person

When I read this part of your citation, my instant reaction was: Where in this census of Jiménez do I find your person?

Censuses typically have divisions other than just a page. There are different schedules or different sections, etc.  Those divisions are not normally called “boxes” (caja).  In a citation to a record in an archives, when we identify a box number, that is typically part of the layer that identifies the archive and its organizational structure. In an archive, a manuscript census is typically found within a box (caja) or book (tomo), as per EE 11.67.  But that data is not part of the identification of the record and the information within the record. 

Meanwhile, the image you posted has an embedded file name (assigned by your record retriever?) which offers additional information:

1853 Padron 2 seccion 7.jpeg

Padrón is the word commonly used for censuses. The reference to “section” is also common in a census. The “2” that appears after padrón and before sección goes unexplained but given the nature of the label assigned to this image, it appears to be an essential part of identifying the 1853 padrón.  The section of a census is also essential to identification. 

What is unclear is what the "2 seccion 7" represents. There are two possible interpretations:

  • [schedule? part?] 2, section 7
  • 2d section, [page? folio? leaf?] 2.   

If this image label was created by your record retriever, you might ask him to explain the wording of his image ID. That would help you to create a citation, which I'm assuming he did not provide for you.  (When we engage the service of a record retriever, we always hope for an appropriate citation, but we don't always get it!)

This still leaves one other issue.



Archives have many, many “boxes.”  A citation to a box needs to identify the collection in which that box appears. It may also need to identify the record group in which the collection appears (as per EE 11.67).  I notice that your reference to “Caja 8” is preceded by “Censos”—i.e., the plural form of censo (“census”).  That makes me debate how I should interpret the initial part of your citation.

The wording of your first layer ...

Town de Jiminez … Censuses, box 8, exp____ 5, 1853, unpaginated, named of person

implies that you may be identifying here the location of the document within the archives, rather than identifying the document itself and the parts of the document that drill down to the name of the person.  Did your record retriever also photograph the first and last pages of the census so that you can identify the document itself more precisely?

Not having used, much less seen, the census itself, I cannot edit your citation. I can only suggest what appears to be needed. From the data given above, it appears that you need to do three things:

  1. Add the “______2, sección 7” (or 2d section, _____ 7) detail to the census, before your reference to page number and person.
  2. Move the “Caja 8, Exp. 5” detail to the second layer, before your identification of the archives. (Also spell out the word that the abbreviation “exp.” represents, since it is not a common abbreviation in citations and has various interpretations.)
  3. Identify the name of the collection in which the box appears—and the record group if that level of organization is used by the archive.

If your record retriever did not supply all these details, the website for this archive might have a catalog from which you can discern the missing details.

Submitted byagonzaleswithanson Sun, 03/14/2021 - 21:26

Dear Editor,

Thank you so much for your detailed response and questions.  In my interest to ensure that it was clear where this document may be found, which is why I focused on the 8.1 and 8.2 as a local archive.

I was able to get additional information from the researcher that included the additional pages of the census and better understand his file naming scheme.  The "2" is for the section of town and the "7' the image number of his series of images for that section.  From counting the distinct pages (there was one duplicate) and the total number, I am making an assumption that my person is on page 6, but unsure as the pages are not numbered.

Given your suggestions, I have put the item of interest into the first layer, where it can be found in the archive within the archive file system in the 2nd layer, followed by the name and location of the archive.  In consulting the inventory document again, I found I missed the record group this box was located in.  Here is my 2nd attempt:

“Padron de los havitantes de la 2a Sección de esta Villa en el Ano de 1853” (Census of the habitants of the 2nd section of the town in the year 1853), unpaginated but likely p 6 of 8, census entry for Nestor Botello [Gonzalez]; Sección Presidencia, Censos (Censuses), Caja (Box) 8, Expediente (file) 5, 1853; Archivo Historico Municipal de Jimenez, Tamaulipas, Jimenez, Tamaulipas, Mexico; digital image of record taken 24 Jan 2018 by remote researcher under guidance of X. Xxxx of Dallas, Texas, emailed to Raul Gonzales Jr on 7 Mar 2021. Nestor in census within a few spaces of Petra Botello, his mother’s name, and Andres and Nasaria Equia, most likely Nestor’s half siblings.

I look forward to your feedback.