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ACProctor
ACProctor's picture
FamilySearch Permalink

I was just about to cite some information on familysearch.org and realised that their suggested citation contains a field that I don't understand. For instance:

"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NYDQ-PNP : 30 December 2014), Mary Ann Mades in entry for Jane Mades, 04 Nov 1827; citing Yardley, Worcester, England, reference ; FHL microfilm 1,520,014.

After their 'ark' permalink, there's a date of "30 December 2014", but what is it? With a normal URL I would have followed it with something like " : accessed 7 June 2017".

I checked a few more examples and the same date comes up. I searched the internet for "familysearch" plus this date and their are many instances of quoted citations containing the same date.

Any suggestions?

Tony

ACProctor
ACProctor's picture

Please ignore my typo "their are". Too much coffee!

Tony

rraymond
rraymond's picture

Tony,

Just as you would if citing a book, FamilySearch cites the publication date of the record. I presume citing access date for web pages evolved because websites don't (usually) specify a publication date; citing access date was the next best solution. Both publication date and access date have value.

  • Just as with a published book, a citation with a publication date allows you to check to see if you are accessing the same publication as the one cited.
  • If a webpage is regularly archived, such as is done by the Internet Archives, then having the access date allows one to choose the archive date just previous to the access date.

The weaknesss of the latter is that one never knows if a change occured between the archive date and the access date. With publication date, there is no such ambiguity.

Robert Raymond
FamilySearch

ACProctor
ACProctor's picture

Thanks for the explanation, Robert. I did wonder about it being a publication date but dismissed it because my own records showed that I accessed this same information about 10 years ago (i.e. before 2014).

If it was a revision date, though, then I would have expected an " : updated <date>".

What was the nature of the change that occurred on 30 Dec 2014? It obviously affected many records.

Tony

rraymond
rraymond's picture

Just as no indicator word ("updated") is placed before the publication year of an updated physical publication, so likewise we place no indicator word for update of an online publication. I can see adding "updated" since there is no edition number in the citation. Would you use a different word for initial publication?

I don't recall what the 30 Dec 2014 event was. Examples of things that might change such a massive amount of records: Internal field name standardization. New placename standardization algorithm. Rollover to a new database system. Anything that requires republication will trigger the date change, The data itself may or may not change. The publication system isn't set up to track different kinds of changes.

BTW, I think that we track publication at the record level, so publication date can be different for different records in a collection.

Robert

EE
EE's picture

Robert, thanks for all the background you have given in this discussion. Your reasoning in the last posting (6/09/2017 - 11:43) is logical, but I'd like to suggest several other considerations:

In Evidence Style, citations to online publications do follow the traditional patterns used for print publications.  That said, variations in the two modes of publications do require modifications in the "publication facts" that appear in parentheses after the title of the book.

Place:

Rather than citing a physical locale, we cite a virtual locale--i.e., a URL.

Punctuation after place:

The longstanding citation practice is to put a colon immediately after the place. However, doing so with a URL would lead to confusion and bad links, because the colon would be grabbed by hotlink algorithms and included as part of the URL, thereby creating an unworkable link.  Thus, Evidence Style follows the longstanding practice of library catalogers and places a space after the URL before typing the colon.

Publisher's name:

This element (which has traditionally been optional for printed books) is not used for websites because the publisher is almost always the creator of the website.

Date:

As you say, for printed books, this date will be the publication date. However, many, many websites use only a copyright date at the bottom of the site, with no publication date for individual items. In those cases, online citations substitute the date the material was accessed. Meanwhile, as you and Tony have discussed above, there are also revision dates. 

Considering that multiple possibilities exist for the date, EE takes the position that clarity calls for an identifying word--i.e.,

It might validly be argued that the default status is "published" and that no explanatory word would be needed before the date in that situation. That default certainly would be assumed by all experienced researchers. On the other hand, millions of researchers now using historical materials online don't have the experience necessary to know what the default is in various citation situations.  They would benefit by being explicit.

And the two of you have now given EE another explanation to consider including the next revision.

The Editor

ACProctor
ACProctor's picture

Another revision of EE? I'm still trying to learn the first one ...

I'll have to build a new bookcase now, just to hold all the later revisions ;-)

Tony

EE
EE's picture

Tony, "next revision" file is always open--even when the "third edition, revised" is only six weeks old. ;-)   

The Editor