Citing/Not Citing the Record Office

Hi, all. I questioned someone about her citation, and she pointed me to page 389/90 in EE's 3rd edition. The problem I had with her citation is that she only cited the FHL film and not the original record. Here's what EE says under "Citing the Record Office" in the last sentence: "In your First Reference Note, you do not have to cite the original record office, because you did not actually use the original records, although many researchers do prefer to include it." 

I thought we always need to get to the original record in our citation - both so that we can better understand the record and find it again, and so that others can better understand the record and find it. But, is this not saying that it is OK to "just" cist the FHL film? 

P.S. It does say that you need to cite the record in your Source List.

Submitted byEEon Wed, 06/05/2019 - 15:11

Dana, as context for our readers who don't have EE, I'll quote the relevant passage:

8.16 Citing the Record Office
The repository you cite will typically be the name of a record office within the city or county—e.g., Clerk of Court’s Office, City Archives Department, etc. That cited repository would rarely be a building (say, Whatever County Courthouse). Many record offices can occupy a building, and record offices often move from one building to another. If you wish to record a building name or a street address in your working Source List, you may; but those are not commonly included in published citations.

In citing microfilmed local and state records used at the state library or the Family History Library, your Source List Entry should identify the record office that holds the original. You will usually find that
information on a target preceding the register that has been filmed, as well as in the FHL catalog. Because you will often need to go beyond the film to examine the original, identifying the whereabouts of the original, whenever you use film, ensures that you will always know where to turn for deeper research. In your First Reference Note, you do not have to cite the original record office, because you did not actually use the original records, although many researchers to prefer to include it.

So, yes, in our reference note, we can "just cite the FHL film" if that's all we've used. In fact, it's often safer not to cite the repository in that ref note because many of those FHL films are now a half-century old and the repository where they were filmed (the one cited by FHL) may not now have these records.

As you say, we always need to "get to the original record," but that advice applies to our usage, not the citation. If we didn't use the original, we don't want to create a citation that implies we used the original.

As for including information in the Source List Entry that's not included in the reference note, that harks back to foundational practices of modern citation systems--which you may have used in school yourself.  We created bibliographic entries, either on cards or in software. Often, when we created those entries for manuscript material--and sometimes for books--we needed to "annotate" the entry to include material that wouldn't be cited in a reference note. To bring that into modern times, if we create a citation from 50- or 70-year-old microfilm and the filmed "record identification card" or "target" tells us that the material was filmed in a certain repository, adding that to the Source List Entry would give us a starting-point for tracking down the originals. But if we include that information in our reference note for a specific fact, we could leave the impression that we used it onsite--and it may not even be there.