E-mail question

 
 
 
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miclew
miclew's picture
E-mail question

Normally when you cite an email you put [(E-ADRESS FOR PRIVATE USE),] but if the email is from an official of some sort (in this case the clerk of the circuit court) can you go ahead and put the actual email address?  It seems a bit odd to privatize the email address of a govenment official.

EE
EE's picture

Good morning, miclew. Such a short question--and such a long answer to follow!  Your two sentences have several issues to unpack.

  1. In our own citation, we don't insert the square-bracketed phrase [(E-ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE)].  In everyday writing and notetaking, square brackets mean "This is something that is not in the original. It's an instruction or extra information that I, as editor, am adding in." In IT language, square brackets with captialized words inside also indicate instruction.It flags a variable where the user should substitute real information for the placeholders.  If a citation needed to include those exact words, your EE models would simply type those words. It would not use the conventions that say "Hey, I'm an instruction" and it would not use the all caps that scream, HEY, I'M AN INSTRUCTION!  It would also just put the addresl in parentheses. It would not use the parentheses for the address and then put that parenthetical passage into square editorial brackets.  (There's a prior Forum thread on this from 2012 at  https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/address-private-use-phrase.)
  2. Your supposition that email from businesses and public offices would not be subject to the same privacy rules as e-mails from individuals is correct. However ...
  3. As you will notice from EE's various examples of citing material received from staff at companies and public offices, none contain email addresses. Email addresses in these offices are typically based on a personal name, and office staff tends to have a high rate of turnover. An email address from someone who sent you a court case today is not likely to be workable a year or five years from now. If you anticipate ordering several things from this office fairly soon and you want to note the email address of that individual with whom you have established a contact: fine. We can always add into a citation any additional information we feel will help us. But the email address (like street addresses for businesses and public offices) would not be part of a core citation.
  4. Email addresses and postal addresses need to be recorded when we cite private entities for whom personal contact information is not public. This leads us back to Point 1 above. If, in our research notes, we put that capitalized phrase "[(E-ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE)]," instead of the actual e-addess, then we've failed to record essential information.

The Editor

miclew
miclew's picture

This will be for a formal footnote in a research report, not in my private notes.  I knew a certain Missisippi county was a burned county so I emailed the Clerk of the Court asking if she had the exact date of the fire (she did) and if any records survived (none did) I need this citation to show why I am lacking certain expected records. I thought this would be a better source then something like the Handybook or Redbook. Even if I had found a newspaper article detailing the fire (I didn't) I would still need an official to confirm that no records survived.

So I should cite it as an email between she and I but just leave the email address off completely?

miclew
miclew's picture

This is the first time I have had occasion to try and cite an email :) :) :) 

EE
EE's picture

miclew, you've made a great point--one that emphasizes why every situation needs to be analyzed according to its own conditions. In the situation you describe, you have three unique conditions: (1) You are citing the employee of the county clerk's office for that person's own knowledge. (2) You are creating a citation for its short-term viability, not long range. (3) The person for whom you are preparing the research report may want to follow up with his/her own email to the staffer. In this case, EE would include the staffer's contact information. And, as you noted originally, because the individual is an employee of a public office and the email address should be that of a public office, the privacy rules would not apply.

The Editor

miclew
miclew's picture

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer.  I made sure that the person I was corresponding with was the actual Clerk to give it a tad more credibility.  

cknox
cknox's picture

I have several original vital records that I'm trying to cite for a paper I'm writing.  My instructor tells me that I can't cite them as a personal artifacts, however, I don't know where they came from other than my grandmothers personal papers.  

One is a Delayed Certificate of Birth (which was actually an application) from Wyoming, which does not give a county or "local" area of issue—just the state of Wyoming, Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics.  

So do I use the quick reference model (First Reference Note) on EE page 430 for a state level vital record or do I use EE 9.5, page 437 (First Reference Note) for loose papers for Local & State Records...?  In the one on page 437, the example has a county, that I don't have on this document.

Any help is appreciated.

Connie

cknox
cknox's picture

To continue my question from above, I'm wondering if this example below would be appropriate... from EE page 432.

Wyoming Department of Health Bureau Vital Statistics, Delayed Certificate of Birth, no. 1908, D–1–9, (1942), Alma Marie Madsen.

 

 

EE
EE's picture

Connie, your instructor's injunction is puzzling. If the documents came to you through your grandmother's papers, if you had no contact with the agency that supposedly issued the document, and you have no way of authenticating that the document is today in any specific government office, then--yes--you should cite it as an artifact from  your grandmother's papers.  As an example of why, I might cite  my own daughter's birth certificate which is in my family papers. If my offspring were to treat it as my daughter's official birth certificate, they would be misled. It contains several errors that I had to have corrected and the version that was initially issued to me no longer exists.

I would like to think that perhaps your instructor was overworked and distracted and missed the critical point.  That said, your only viable alternative for this particular class would seem to be to produce what your instructor is attempting to teach. Cite it as though you had received it from the Wyoming Department of Health, using the format for a delayed birth certificate. Accuracy suggests that you might then add a sentence to the citation to say that you did not receive it from that office; rather, it came to you through the papers of ...."

The Editor