Citing the National Probate Index for Scotland

Dear Editor;

On Ancestry, I found images of the 1932, Volume M-Z, National Probate Index for [Edinburgh] Scotland. It a court register, which was "Duplicated by His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1926." I don't know if it was originally in manuscript form and was typed in order to duplicate it.

The situation is a bit complicated and I would appreciate your advice on how to deal with this.

"image 360" is the title page, which provides a lot of information on the identity of the document.

"image 409" is the page on which the data for Charles Murison appears.

If it is helpful, I can post my transcription of both images.

Here is what I thought might be a workable citation.

Source List Entry

“Scotland, National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1936.” Database with browsable images. Ancestry. 2019.

First Reference

“Scotland, National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1936,”Ancestry( downloaded 26 April 2019) > 1923 [browse path], browsable images, image 409, 1923 [confirmation year], [vol. M-Z per image 360], sect. M, p. 97, entry for Charles Murison, died 5 November 1922, confirmation 17 April 1923; citing "Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories, Commissary Clerk of Edinburgh." The title page of the volume [image 360] also states that it was, "Duplicated by His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1926."

Subsequent Note

“Scotland, National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1936,”Ancestry, image 409, 1923, [vol. M-Z,] sect. M, p. 97, entry for Charles Murison, died 5 November 1922, confirmation 17 April 1923.

Submitted byEEon Tue, 05/28/2019 - 11:31

History-Hunter, that works. Another approach might be used also, given the fact that this is a titled volume and that

  • the title is different from the source-of-the-source citation that you quote from Ancestry;
  • the subtitle on the volume offers additional information that is not reflected in your citation; and
  • the additional information explains why your man who died in Canada appears in this volume created in Edinburgh.

For this example, because the database has a search form, I’ll drop the browse path and waypoints and assume we are using the automated search. Doing so produces a shorter citation in the first layer to offset the space needed for the additional data about the source.  This version is five words longer.

“Scotland, National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1936,” Ancestry ( downloaded 26 April 2019), images 360 (title page) and 409 (entry for Charles Murison, died 5 November 1922, confirmation 17 April 1923); imaging Commissary Clerk of Edinburgh, Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories … in the Several Commissariots of Scotland, Together with English and Irish Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration Certified, and Colonial Grants … 1923, vol. M‒Z (Edinburgh: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1926), sect. M, p. 97.

You'll notice that layer 2 is introduced by the word imaging rather than citing, after which layer 2 follows a basic book citation for a multivolume work: author, Title, vol. no. (Publication Place: Publisher, year), section, page.

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Thu, 05/30/2019 - 18:32

Dear Editor;

I've usually tried to stay away from using the search form on Ancestry in favour of the "browsable image" access method, since imaged pages that do not contain indexed names are not directly accessible via the search form. Using the search form, one must first locate the record for Charles, then set the image number for the title page. That said; if one reads the citation (as you have written it) and sees the confirmation year, there is still adequate information to access the images via "Browse this collection," if desired.

Could you elaborate a bit about when including something like "browsable images" in the First Reference is necessary and when it is not (I note that you removed it from the First Reference.) I'm also not sure if you intended the "Database with browsable images" in the Source List Entry to be similarly removed or not.

Just a note ... If one chooses to use the search form, one really should turn on the "exact" switches to ensure that only the desired entry is shown. Ancestry has a nasty habit of defaulting to rather "loose" search parameters. This behaviour can result in multiple returns and could be confusing. But; that is likely something a skilled Ancestry user should already know.

Submitted byEEon Mon, 06/03/2019 - 09:52

History-Hunter, at the websites of most image providers, "browsable" is a term that means "we haven't yet indexed names from this but you can browse through the images one by one."  EE does not use that term when the database is indexed; we simply reference it as a database with images. Realistically, image collections by most online providers are almost always "browsable" somehow, though some are easier to browse than others.

And yes, researchers should be very thoughtful in their use of search forms. Narrowing the search can save a great deal of time. On the other hand, using "looser" default search parameters can also be helpful in finding people who have strayed off to unexpected places or finding names that are unimaginably garbled.