Mastering Genealogical Documentation Study Group
Chapter 15 – Citing Online Images of Previously Unpublished Material
Jones, Thomas W. "Citing Online Images of Previously Unpublished Material." In Mastering Genealogical Documentation, 155-162. Arlington, VA: National Genealogical Society, 2017.
This week’s chapter focuses on citing materials that are published for the first time as online images. These include many images from Ancestry and FamilySearch, both of which are digitizing courthouse records, vital records and other archived material of interest to genealogists.
My research in North Carolina relies heavily on deeds and wills. Fortunately, many North Carolina counties have digitized their deed indexes and books, so I am able to view those without waiting until I have the time and money to go to North Carolina. My example this week comes from one of these record sets.
A deed executed on January 8, 1853 in Columbus County, North Carolina identifies James Baldwin, Jr. as a son and heir of James Baldwin, Sr. This deed is recorded on pages 214 and 215 of Deed Book L, and is available on the Columbus County Register of Deeds website. To craft the citation, the following information is needed:
Who: Columbus County, North Carolina Register of Deeds (not used in citation, since the website name is the same)
What: deed of James Baldwin Jr selling his interest in the estate of James Baldwin, Sr to Robertson Baldwin
When: executed January 8, 1853; proven May term 1853
Wherein: Deed Book L, pages 214-215
Whereis: The Registry Online https://www.columbusdeeds.com , viewed 9 January 2018
Since options 1 and 2 do not meet standards, I will not craft a citation using those methods. Dr. Jones gives two additional methods which do meet genealogical standards, though.
Option 3, and Dr. Jones’ preferred method, is to cite the published image with additional details. My citation for the deed in question would read:
“The Registry Online,” Columbus County, North Carolina Register of Deeds (https://www.columbusdeeds.com : viewed 9 January 2018), deed book L, pages 214-215, James Baldwin, Jr. to Robertson Baldwin, deed, 8 January 1853, proved May term 1853.
Option 4 is to give full citation details for both the deed itself and the online image.
James Baldwin Jr to Robertson Baldwin, deed, 8 January 1853, proven May term 1853, deed book L, pages 214-215, in Columbus County, North Carolina, Register of Deeds; digital images, “The Registry Online,” Columbus County, North Carolina Register of Deeds (https://www.columbusdeeds.com : viewed 9 January 2018), Deed Book L, pages 214-215.
I think I actually prefer this last option, although I’m not sure I can give a reason for that preference. Maybe because I’m used to citing census images from Ancestry in this way, so the format is more familiar? As I mentioned last week, Dr. Jones is the editor a print publication and is concerned with space limitations, which is why he often prefers the shorter citations such as option 3. Since I have worked as a desktop publisher and faced the same issues, I fully appreciate his stance, but for my own non-print purposes, I will probably continue with the format of option 4, citing both the underlying document and the online resource.