Easy Guide to Citing Sources in Genealogy, Part III

Introduction: In this article – the third in a four-part series – Jessica Edwards gives tips for creating citations for your genealogy research. Jessica has had a lifelong interest in her family’s history – especially on her father’s side, which goes back to the first settlers in Pennsylvania, Jamestown and New England.

Examples of Citing Sources

Sometimes the best way to understand how to cite sources is to see a few examples. The following four examples (more examples will be shown in Part IV of this article) contain formats in which many genealogical sources are stored. If you do not see the exact record that you need, choose an example that is stored in a similar format. For example, if you have a copy of a will, you might use the “Birth certificates and similar records” example shown in Part II of this article (see links at the end of this article).

Important: Record enough information that you or another person could find the source again to evaluate the accuracy of the information. The examples suggest what information you should record and which field to put it in.

Illustration: a medieval scholar

How to Cite Interviews and Oral Histories

The following information lists key fields that you might want to fill out for an interview or oral history. Important: If you used a transcription, index, or abstract, cite that rather than the actual interview or oral history.

  • Source description.
  • Source title. Type a descriptive title.
  • For interviews, type the name of the individual who conducted the interview. For an oral history, type the name of the individual who recited the history.
  • Publication information. Type the format on which the information is stored, such as an audio tape or video tape.
  • Type the name, address, and telephone number of the place in which anyone could find the interview.
  • Film/Volume/Page Number. Type any information that could help someone find the information within the interview.
  • Date record was made. If known, type the date on which the interview took place.
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Personal Journals and Diaries Can Be Cited Too!

If you used a transcription, cite that rather than the actual journal.

  • Source description.
  • Source title. If the journal or diary has a title, type it. If it does not, type a descriptive title. You could include the dates that the journal covers.
  • Type the name of the individual who wrote the journal. If you used a transcription, include the transcriber’s name as well.
  • Source call number. If the journal is in a library or archive, include its call number.
  • Type the name, address, and telephone number of a place in which anyone could find the journal or diary.
  • Film/Volume/Page Number. If the journal has page numbers, type the numbers of the pages that you used.
  • Date record was made. Type the date when the journal entry was written.

Magazine and Newspaper Articles Are Easy to Cite

If you have many obituaries from the same newspaper, you could create a generic source description for them. In the source description, include the name of the newspaper and its publisher. In the citation, type the date on which the article appeared, the section and page numbers, and so forth.

  • Source description.
  • Source title. Type the title of the article.
  • Type the author’s name.
  • Publication information. Type the name of the periodical, volume numbers, issue numbers, issue dates, and range of pages that the article covers.
  • Source call number. If you used the magazine or newspaper in a library or archive, type the call number.
  • Type the name, address, and telephone number of a place in which anyone could find the magazine or newspaper.
  • Film/Volume/Page Number. Type the section and page numbers that the article covers.
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How to Cite Microfilmed Records

Microfilmed records (such as censuses, parish registers, and so forth) can be cited with some basic information.

  • Source description.
  • Source title. If a record has an actual title, type it. If it does not, type a descriptive title.
  • Type the name of the individual or institution that created the original source. (This may not be the name of the organization that microfilmed the record.)
  • Publication information. If the microfilm contains published information, type the place of publication, the publisher’s name, the copyright date, the name of the organization that microfilmed the record, and the date when the microfilm was made. If the microfilm contains unpublished information, type as much information as you can find. Include the name of the organization that microfilmed the record and the date when the microfilm was made. Sometimes you can find publication information in the catalog of the library or archive where you found the microfilm.
  • Call number. If the microfilm is a part of a set, type the range of microfilm call numbers. If it is not, type the number.
  • Type the name, address, and telephone number of a place in which anyone could find the microfilm. Important: If you type the name and address of a private individual, please obtain the individual’s permission first.
  • Film/Volume/Page Number. Type all of the information needed to find the specific microfilm and the specific frame within the microfilm. You may find frame numbers, page numbers, certificate numbers, and so forth. For a microfilm series, also include the call number of the particular microfilm.
  • Date record was made. If you know the day when the record on the microfilm was created, type it here. For example, if you are using a parish register on microfilm, type the date on which the information was written in the register, not the date when the register was microfilmed.
  • You could include a description of the microfilm’s quality. You could include specific instructions for using the microfilm or for finding the entry that you used.
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Upcoming on this blog: the last part in this four-part series on citing sources in genealogy.

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