Citing Ancestry City Directory Database

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mhoneycutt's picture
Citing Ancestry City Directory Database

I use Evidentia to catalog my sources and have been working on creating templates for sources that Evidentia doesn't supply templates for and am trying to make them as EE compatible as possible. For the Ancestry database U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 ( I created a template that gives me a citatation of:

Johnson City, Tenn. City Directory ( Detroit, MI: Piedmont Directory Company, 1932-1933), pp. 209-10, Honeycutt surname;​ digitized in "U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995," database, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 Oct 2017), path Tennessee > Johnson City > 1932.

and a source entry of:

"U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995;" Digital images. : <2017>.

Citations have always been my weak area. I searched the forums and read through my copy of Evidence Explained and this was my best end product. I've been doing my genealogy since I was about 12 and not properly citing things was my real downfall in my 20+ years of research and I've decided to start from scratch and do it right this time. I'm hoping I can get advice on if these look correct or if I should revise them.



EE's picture

Michael, you've grasped the principles well. When we use imaged records at Ancestry, FamilySearch, or wherever, we have two things to cite. In layer 1, we cite the original record/book/whatever that has been imaged; in layer 2, we cite the database.  We cite both parts in the same citation sentence so it will not appear that we are citing two different things.

EE 12.55 provides the basic format for citing city directories in layer 1. That appears to be what you've followed. EE would make only a couple of tweaks to your draft.

(1) The title of the published directory needs to be in italics. In this case, the title is not on the cover and there's no title page immediately inside because there are eight pages of ads at the start of the directory. Past those, we find the actual title.


In the case of this particular directory series, its name actually changes from one year to the next. In 1930-31, its Miller's Johnson City, Tenn., City Directory. In 1932-33, the publisher's name appears in the place where Miller's appeared earlier. That makes it ambiguous as to whether the publisher's name was intended to be included in the title, but including it would also be redundant given that the publisher is also cited in the publisher's field.  In situations like this, if we're citing the full series, then our reference note might cite it as, say

[Various compilers], Johnson City, Tenn., City Directory ( ....

In a case in which "[Various compilers]" was used as the author/compiler, if we were citing the original volumes in the source list instead of Ancestry's collection, EE would use Johnson City, Tenn., City Directory as the entry under which it is alphabetized.

Your layer 2 well cites the database that images these records, following the basic pattern

; imaged in "Name of Collection," database, Name of Website (URL of website : date accessed), path [aka waypoints] leading to the exact image.

Ditto for your source-list entry.

The Editor