Citing a Database with an Image of an Index

 
 
 
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agilchrest
agilchrest's picture
Citing a Database with an Image of an Index

Some of Ancestry's databases include an image of an index. The index image gives information that is not included in the database search. For example in the "Ohio Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007", a search for Andrew Thurner will give the results: Name: Andrew Thurner, Death Date: 25 Dec 1924, County of Death: Hamilton. Viewing the image there is more information available to find the actual death certificate ie. the State file numbers, volume 4611 & certificate no. 66537. From the image you can tell this is a book the page has the following information Department of Health State of Ohio Death Index, Division of Vital Statistics page 1572.

I would like to include the State file numbers in my citation as they are necessary to locate the original record.

One option would be"Ohio Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007", database, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 05 December 2011), entry for Andrew Thurner, 25 December 1924, vol. no. 4611, certificate no. 66537; citing Ohio Division of Vital Statistics, "Death Certificates and Index, 20 December 1908 - 31 December 1953," State Archives Series 3094, Ohio Historical Society, Columbus.

My problem with this is that it doesn't indicate that this is an index and not the original record. (Ancestry cites death certificates and index. Would adding the words State File no. before the vol. no. tell you that this is an index?

hhenderson
hhenderson's picture

One of the things that amazed me when I started citing original documents is how much shorter and simpler the citation can be. In this case, the image of the original is available on FamilySearch, so there's no need to cite an index. If you ever do have to do so as a stopgap, adding "database with no images" or "index" prior to the word "entry" should do the job. Good luck!

Harold

Harold Henderson

Midwestroots.net

mhait
mhait's picture

Ann,

I would alter your citation only slightly. Here is my version:

"Ohio Deaths,  1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007," database, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com :  accessed 05 December 2011), entry for Andrew Thurner, d. 25 December 1924; citing Ohio Division of Vital Statistics, "Death  Certificates and Index, 20 December 1908 — 31 December 1953," State Archives Series 3094, Ohio Historical Society, Columbus.

I have not looked at the actual entry that you are citing so please adjust the details if necessary.

Your main problem with your citation was that "it doesn't indicate that this is an index and not the  original record." The confusion came because you put too much information into the citation by including the details about the original certificate. My version was no different other than removing these unnecessary details. This leaves it clear that what you are citing is an entry in a database, and not a digital image of the original certificate.

In general, if you are citing the index, then you do not need to include the information from the index page itself (i.e. the references to the original certificate). On the other hand, if you had the original certificate to cite, then you would not need to cite the index at all other than in a general way.

This latter point is the most important. Very seldom do we need to cite index pages, unless there is some reason (usually legal) that the original certificate is unavailable.

Michael Hait, CGSM
michael.hait@hotmail.com
http://www.haitfamilyresearch.com
"Planting the Seeds" Blog: http://michaelhait.wordpress.com

CG and Certified Genealogist are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board certificants after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.

agilchrest
agilchrest's picture

Michael,

Where would you put the information from the index not included in the citation?

 

Ann

mhait
mhait's picture

The purpose of creating a citation--also called a "reference note"--is that you are providing the source for a statement of fact. Your citation does not just stand alone; it provides a reference to the information you have derived from the source.

So, for example, your text (or database) might say "X died on ...." with an attached reference note (footnote or endnote) containing the citation to the death index. Your citation to the death index would not contain the information on the certificate itself because you have not looked at the certificate and therefore you cannot cite it as if you had.

You should definitely record the information from the index somewhere, preferably on a letter to the state health department (or the appropriate facility) asking for a copy of the certificate. Indexes alone do not provide adequate evidence of any fact. They should only be used as finding aids to the original records.

However the citation for an index is not the appropriate place to record these details, just as a citation to any record is not the appropriate place to record the information contained in that record. Think of a census record--the citation is not the appropriate place to record the ages of members of the household.

Hope this helps!

Michael Hait, CG

agilchrest
agilchrest's picture

Hi Michael,

Thanks, it did help, but not in the way you may think!

After reading your post I realized that I use citations in my database for two purposes. The first to provide a source for a fact. The second as a temporary step in my research process. I often create citations that will include information that will not appear in a finished report or the final citation. I use these citations  to analyze information and to make it easier when I go to an archive, library or county office. An example of this is when I search the Minnesota Historical Societies birth index I will format all my citations using the index then when I go to the library, the original certificates are available in house through the index all I have to do is move the citation from one title to another. Another example I will put a transcription of an obituary in the citation text block in FTM. If I am looking at an individual that is not the primary person the obit is about it is faster &, easier to access the information and it is with the individual I am looking at. Not to mention I don't have to put the obit in all the individuals notes.

There are times when an index is the only source you have for information. For legal reasons you may not be allowed to receive an original of a record.  When the record becomes available to me or a future researcher including the information from an index "with" the citation can make that process simpler. It allows me to keep all the information together.  Thinking about this the best place for me to put the information from an index is in the citation text box in FTM. This allows me to keep the information with the citation but it doesn't  have to appear in the actual citation.

Ann Gilchrest

Rondina
Rondina's picture

Ann,

If I can obtain the original record, then I might create a citation for the index entry to cite where the information came from temporarily. Expecially if it is going to be a while before the original certificate is received. But I would handle the citation differently than Michael.

His citation:

"Ohio Deaths,  1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007," database, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com :  accessed 05 December 2011), entry for Andrew Thurner, d. 25 December 1924; citing Ohio Division of Vital Statistics, "Death  Certificates and Index, 20 December 1908 — 31 December 1953," State Archives Series 3094, Ohio Historical Society, Columbus.

My citation:

"Ohio Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007," digital image, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 5 December 2011), index entry for Andrew Thurner, 25 December 1924; citing Ohio Division of Vital Statistics, Death Certifictes and Index, 20 December 1908—31 December 1953," State Archives Series 3094, Ohio Historical Society, Columbus.

The additional information you gathered did not come from a database. It came from a digital image of the original index. It may have been index, but it was the original index page. Adding "index" before "entry" clarifies that you are not looking at the death certificate itself.

Rondina

 

 

 

 

Rondina

AncestralAnalysis.com

agilchrest
agilchrest's picture

Thanks Rodina,

 I had already added the word index before the word entry. I also like the use of digital image as opposed to database. I wonder if using "digital image of index" would be more accurate or would it be redundant?  

Ann

mhait
mhait's picture

What I cited was the Ancestry database. The index image would have slight changes. However, these are both just indexes/finding aids--not records in their own right.

Several legitimate reasons to cite an index rather than an original record exist. Generally speaking, it would come down to legal access. In Maryland, for example, birth certificates are restricted for 100 years, so researchers cannot retrieve the certificates for those born after 1912. The indexes, on the other hand, are accessible, and can provide evidence of birth when no other record exists.

I do not know off the top of my head what the access restrictions for death certificates in Ohio might be. However, if you can legally obtain the original record, then you should do so, rather than citing the index.

Rondina
Rondina's picture

Michael,

Ann was not looking at the database, she was looking at the index image. The database being twice-removed from the original source; the index imaged beging once-removed. Both can contain errors. One is a contemporary typed entry. The other may or may not have been created on the date the actual record was filed. They are not "both just indexes/finding aids." The index, as the original index to the death certificate, is a record in itself. And, do you consider the additional information it provided just a finding aid? : )

Rondina

 

Rondina

AncestralAnalysis.com

mhait
mhait's picture

Ann was indeed looking at the index image, not the database. I cited the database as a source for the date and county of death. Of course, to obtain the information about the original itself, you will have to look at the image. I assume that this is what you mean about the "additional information" on the index image.

The index was created no less than three years after the death, and it was likely computer-generated from a database itself. (Though Thurner died in 1924, there are entries on the same page from 1927.) And actually, if you read about the creation of the index from the Ohio Historical Society website, it is even further removed than you might believe:

"What is the source of the index entry data?
1913-1935 Indexes:
In the 1970s, the Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics constructed computer indices of death certificates by inputting a few basic fields of data. These fields are last name (up to 11 characters), first name (up to 7 characters) and optional middle initial, county of death, date of death (mm/dd/yyyy), death certificate volume, and death certificate number. Those computer indices, limited by the technology of that time, are no longer with us, but OHS holds carbon copies of the printouts (some on paper, some on microforms). The OVIL project scanned the hardcopy, and then processed those image files with an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) program. The OCR program output text files, which were then verified by comparing the scanned images against the OCR output."

[SOURCE: "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the Online Ohio Death Certificate Index," Ohio Historical Society (http://www.ohiohistory.org/resource/database/odci_faq.html : accessed 16 April 2012), "Questions about the creation and use of the Ohio Death Certificate Index."]

A book of abstracts may contain a majority of the details from the originals. It is of course still a derivative, but some analysis can be conducted using the abstract--at least a preliminary determination of whether a record is relevant to the research subject at all and worth investigating further. This index, on the other hand, does not provide enough information to do anything but go get the original certificate. This is why I consider the image of the index a finding aid. We cannot simply look at either the Ancestry database, the index image from the 1970s, or the OHS searchable database as sufficient evidence of the death--we need the original.

Wibbus
Wibbus's picture

I have a similar situation.  I want to cite an image of the entry for Belle Stewart in the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission's Death Indices: 

http://www.phmc.pa.gov/Archives/Research-Online/Pages/Death-Indices.aspx#5

I want to cite page 54 of Deaths 1935 S

http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/bah/dam/rg/di/r11_090_DeathIndexes/Death_1935/D-35%20S(000)-S(663).pdf

The website page for the list of indices doesn't have a title other than "DEATH INDICES State File Number."

Would either of these be right?

#1

"Death Indices [Pennsylvania], 1906-1966," digital image, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, Death Indices (http://www.phmc.pa.gov/Archives/Research-Online/Pages/Death-Indices.aspx#5 : accessed 19 November 2017), index entry for Belle Stewart, 8 February 1935; citing Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commision, Death Indices, 1906-1966.

#2

"Deaths 1935 S," Death Indices [Pennsylvania], 1906-1966, digital image, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/bah/dam/rg/di/r11_090_DeathIndexes/Death_1935/D-35%20S(000)-S(663).pdf : accessed 19 November 2017), index entry for Belle Stewart, page 54, State File Number 13854, 8 February 1935; citing Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission.

Should I say anything about the "363" which precedes the entry?  It is a Russell Soundex surname code number.

Thank you in advance for advising me.

Elizabeth

EE
EE's picture

Elizabeth, you're headed in the right direction, but for the sake of clarity, we should discuss a few points.

In your second message, you say this this is formatted like a "Master Source" in Legacy, while #2 is formatted like that software's "Detailed Source." 

EE does not give advice on any specific software. EE is based on standard research principles that apply regardless of the kind of software we're using.

Against that backdrop, turn to 2.4 "Types of Citations."  There you see

  • Source List (Bibliography)
  • Reference Notes

That's what you're aiming for with the your #1 and #2. The two types of citations have differences that need to be observed to avoid a host of problems. However, both your #1 and your #2 are formatted like reference notes and they contain virtually the same content. Let's address each point separately.

Content

EE2.4 makes this distinction:

  • Source List: "This master list of materials we have used will not document any specific fact. ... It typically omits descriptive data, because its function is to provide ... a convenient list of key materials.
  • Reference Notes: For history researchers, this is the major form of citation. Whether we use footnotes or endnotes, we attach these to our narrative to identify the source of individual statements. Reference notes should offer a complete citation of both the source and the specific  part that provides the information we are using.

Look back at your No. 1  Not only does it cite (a) the database and the website, with publication data, but it also identifies (b) a specific entry and (c) the source where your source got its information.  Your #1, the Source List Entry, should have only part (a).  Parts (b) and (c) are information items that go in the Reference Note.  

There are a slew of reasons why these differences exist. I'll give you just one. If you cite the index entry for Belle Stewart in your Source List Entry (i.e., "Master Source"), then you will need a different Source List Entry (or Master Source) for every one of the 39 ( or however many) database entries you take from this source.  We avoid that by identifying a source broadly in the Source List, and then, for each piece of information we take from that source, we provide the specific detail in the reference note that is attached to that detail in our narrative.

Format

At EE 2.38, you will find a set of basic rules for creating both Source Lists and Reference Notes. Particularly note, under each, the rule for "Separation of Elements." In brief:

  • Reference Notes: "All elements that describe the source are linked together, sentence style. A period appears at the end of each source's citation. No period appears in the middle of elements that describe a source." This part you handled correctly in #2.
  • Source Lists: "The major elements that describe the source are separated by periods." Your #1 does not do that. It strings everything together in one long sentence.

Russell Soundex surname code number

No. This is not relevant to relocating your source or to analyzing the information and evidence that your source provides.


Name of Database

This website is a good example of why online material can be so difficult to cite!

  • At the link you provide for "Deaths 1935 S," there is nothing to tell us that we are looking at "Death Indices, 1906-1966."
  • Exploring the site from that entry point, we can find the landing page for the database itself at http://www.phmc.pa.gov/Archives/Research-Online/Pages/Death-Indices.aspx#5. However, that page is titled only "Death Indices."
  • We can glean the dates for ourselves by scrolling down the list of links on the page, but if we add the dates to the title of the database, we have to put those dates in square editorial brackets to let everyone know (and ourselves after our memory of the site has gone cold) that we are changing the name of the database we’re using.

In short, we have several different titles to cite, none of them provide all needed information, and its easy to get lost among them. This is one of those websites where it’s best to cite the “path” or “waypoints” that allow us to drill down to the exact item. Your basic format for a reference note would be the same format you would use for a chapter in a book (except no authors need citing because the only author carries the same name as the website):,

  • The database/chapter is cited in quotation marks
  • The website/book title is cited in italics.
  • The details that identify the path (or the waypoints along that path) are cited after the parenthetical publication data.

Reference Note:

        1. “Death Indices,” Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (http://www.phmc.pa.gov/Archives/Research-Online/Pages/Death-Indices.aspx : accessed 19 November 2017) > 1935 > D-35 S(000)-S(663).pdf > image 43 of 118, entry for Belle Stewart, 8 February 1935.

Source List Entry:

“Death Indices.” Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. http://www.phmc.pa.gov/Archives/Research-Online/Pages/Death-Indices.aspx : 2017.

The Editor

Wibbus
Wibbus's picture

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  This is so helpful.  

After I posted, it occurred to me to think of the entries as Bibliography and Footnote.  As you point out, I just need a single Source List Entry to which I can refer in multiple Reference Notes.

You have a gift for making a confusing situation clear.

Thank you, again.

Elizabeth Fry

EE
EE's picture

That's what we're here for, Elizabeth. Happy Holidays.

The Editor

Wibbus
Wibbus's picture

In my post above, example #1 is like a Master Source on Legacy Family Tree and example #2 is like a Detailed Source on Legacy.

I could leave "Pennsylvania" in brackets out because it is obviously Pennsylvania Death Indices because it is on the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission website.