Accurately citing Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813-1834?

 
 
 
9 posts / 0 new
Last post
Acog
Acog's picture
Accurately citing Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813-1834?

I’m trying to figure out how to properly cite Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813-1834 on Ancestry.

 

Since Ancestry categorizes this collection as a census, I’m wondering if I should cite it as I have below. I’m using 6.51, citing an English census online database (Jamaica was a colony of the United Kingdom at the time of the record being cited).  

 

Source list entry:

“Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813-1834.” Database with images. Ancestry.com. https://www.ancestry.com : 2017.

 

First reference note:

“Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813-1834,” database with images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 September 2017), entry for Alexander Cradock (age 25), St. Dorothy, Jamaica; citing Office of Registry of Colonial Slaves and Slave Compensation Commission: Records T 71/13.  

 

(In the record there’s no registration district; sub-registration;  district or ED, institution or vessel; or household schedule number so I’ve ended the citation at the piece number. Is that right?)

 

Subsequent note:

“Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813-1834,” Ancestry.com, database entry for Alexander Cradock (25), St. Dorothy, Jamaica.

 

Here’s the source information supplied by Ancestry:

Source Citation

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Collection: Offaice of Registry of Colonial Slaves and Slave Compensation Commission: Records; Class: T 71; Piece Number: 13

Source Information

Ancestry.com. Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813-1834 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.

Original data: Office of Registry of Colonial Slaves and Slave Compensation Commission: Records; (The National Archives Microfilm Publication T71); Records created and inherited by HM Treasury; The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.

 

And here’s the link to record I’m citing (an Ancestry world explorer membership level is needed)

http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?_phsrc=xRh225&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&indiv=1&db=BritishSlaves&gss=angs-d&new=1&rank=1&msT=1&gsfn=Alexan...

 

EE
EE's picture

Acog,

You've done well—far better than most citations we see—though we can nitpick a few things to achieve greater clarity.

1.

Let's rephrase your question. We aren't actually "citing Slave Registers of former British Dependencies." What we're citing is an Ancestry database entry. It could carry any name under the sun and follow the same pattern, because what we're actually seeing is 'a square piece of paper' on which Ancestry has typed stuff.  That’s what we’re citing. At the end, we tag onto our citation whatever Ancestry says it has used. But the information we are using is nothing more than whatever Ancestry’s data entry clerks typed into the database.

2.

You say "Since Ancestry categorizes this collection as a census," you're wondering if you should follow a census model. You've just spotlighted a reason why it is wise to thoughtfully consider what we're using—not just to pick a citation model, but to actually understand what it is we're using.

The original collection is not a census at all. It doesn't have the same kinds of information (as you've noted) or the same comprehensive coverage that a census is supposed to have. When Ancestry assigned that label, it had a need to fit this group of records into its own organizational scheme. Using, as a Google query, the source-of-our-source data that Ancestry supplies, leads us to this page: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C13808 , where we are given a clearer description of the records.

Registers of the Office for the Registry of Colonial Slaves, 1813 to 1834, most of which are indexed under the names of the owners or plantations; and records of the Slave Compensation Commission, comprising the proceedings of the assistant commissioners who were sent to the several colonies, valuers' returns, registers of claims with indexes, original claims and certificates, counter-claims, adjudications in contested cases, certificates for compensation and lists of awards, commissioners' hearing notes and minutes, accounts, etc.

From this description, it’s obvious that we don’t have the data that’s essential when citing a census (as you’ve pointed out in your parenthetical discussion to “First Reference Note”). Given this, you chose wisely when you decided to include “T 71/13.” 

That said, Ancestry’s data description—which refers to the archival location of the files in the UK’s National Archives—doesn’t actually say “T 71/13,”  and many people who are not familiar with the organizational system used by that archives won’t understand what “T 71/13” means. Nor will they know where the records of this commission are housed. (The natural assumption would likely be Jamaica, since that's the only place cited.) Ancestry actually is more explicit. It cites Class T 71, Piece 13, and "The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England." For clarity, it would be better if our own citation used those identifiers.

3.

After citing the database, you identify it as a “database with images.”  However, I don’t see images at the Ancestry link. What I’m seeing is just a database.

4.

After citing the database and the database provider, you cite the specific information of interest this way:

Entry for Alexander Cradock (25), St. Dorothy, Jamaica

Three tweaks might be considered here:

  • Given that this is a database of both slaveholders and the enslaved, you might want to identify which category Alexander belongs to. It could be helpful to also identify the slaveholder.
  • Someone without access to the database would likely be uncertain as to what the (25) represents. Without explanation, it could also seem to be an entry number or line number.
  • When referencing a record and we have an exact year, it’s wise to include that year.

5.

And, for a really nitpicking issue: Ancestry’s website is now titled just Ancestry. It doesn’t use the .com as part of its site name now.

All things considered, your First Reference Note would end up being this:

“Slave Registers of Former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813–1834,” database, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 September 2017), entry for Alexander Cradock, 25, slave belonging to Balard Cradock, St. Dorothy, Jamaica (1817); citing “Office of Registry of Colonial Slaves and Slave Compensation Commission: Records; Class: T71; Piece Number: 13,” National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England.

The Editor

Acog
Acog's picture

Thanks so much for taking the time out to respond with such detail and explanation! I really appreciate it. 

Just out of curiosity, what type of evidence would you classify this record as?

EE
EE's picture

Acog, it's a derivative record. Have you sought the imaged original at TNA?

The Editor

Acog
Acog's picture

Is it not a facsimile of the original record? There's an image of the record along with the database information, which is why I originally said database with images. Please see the image attached.

Here's how I've updated the note thanks to all your amazing help:

 

“Slave Registers of Former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813–1834,” database with images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 September 2017), entry for Alexander Cradock, 25, slave in the possession of Mary Cradock, as belonging to the estate of the late Balard Cradock, St. Dorothy, Jamaica (1817); citing “Office of Registry of Colonial Slaves and Slave Compensation Commission: Records; Class: T 71; Piece Number: 13,” National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England.

Upload a document: 
Acog
Acog's picture

Dang,  I added the wrong file. Here's the right one.

EE
EE's picture

Acog, you are right. My apologies. When, on Thursday, I clicked your link to the database entry, no image came up. The place on the database entry where the thumbnail appears was blank and it was not clickable. I can only surmise that Ancestry must have been having server problems at the time. Just now, when I clicked on the link, the clickable thumbnail appeared as it should.

Back to your question in Message 5: what you are seeing is an imaged original record. We treat it as an original unless other evidence emerges to suggest there may be a problem with the image. In this case, given that the image comes from an official source, that all parts of the page are legible, and that the page-of-interest is presented in the context of the full register that can be analyzed for additional clues, the odds are small that your evaluation of it as an original will mask a problem.

The Editor

Acog
Acog's picture

Two additional questions and then I'm out of your hair:

Would the correct subsequent note be as follows, or is this too much information?

“Slave Registers of Former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813–1834,” Ancestry, entry for Alexander Cradock, St. Dorothy, Jamaica (1817); citing “Office of Registry of Colonial Slaves and Slave Compensation Commission: Records; Class: T 71; Piece Number: 13,” National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England.

The second question is:  Is the editor of this forum also the author of EE? If so, I'm totally going fan girl out on here. 

 

 

EE
EE's picture

Acog, yes, for a subsequent note, that could certainly be considered TMI.  In a subsequent note for an original register, we identify the register and the page or entry.  Data on where the register is located, or where we found an image copy, or where our source says it got its information—as well as analytical comments about the record or the data—go only in the first reference note.  See EE 2.43 "Short Citations, Creating."

Ergo, your subsequent citation could be tidily reduced to this:

“Slave Registers of Former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813–1834,” entry for Alexander Cradock, 25.

And yes, EE (the book and the website) is a one-woman show in which she wears a lot of hats but gets wonderful counsel from hundreds of colleagues and a tad of technical assistance from an IT guru. Thanks for the kind words.

The Editor