A church record head-twister

Hello braintrust!

I would love your thoughts on this conundrum:

I want to source a digital image of a page from an 18th century church register, which is presently stored in a vault in Philadelphia at the Presbyterian Historical Society.  (The church however is in New York and remains active to present day.)  

The page I wish to source is now imaged on (and probably by) Ancestry, in a collection they labeled Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970.  This collection includes churches from all over the place, as one might imagine.

What is important, is that the reader knows where the artifact is stored.  This isn't exactly intuitive because as I mentioned above, the parish in Ballston, NY is still very active.  

Thoughts on how to tackle this?  Me thinks lead with Ancestry's collection name, then do just the book's actual title (inscribed on it) and record of interest within it, with town and county in parens, then repository in Phila.  This seems off though.  Thoughts?

edit: here is my proposed trainwreck:

“Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970,” Ancestry.com, citing Charlton Freehold Presbyterian Church (Saratoga County, New York) marriage record for William Weld and Sarah Elizabeth Johnson on 20 May 1835 (slide 97 of 184), artifact repository; Presbyterian Historical Society (Philadelphia), CN Vault BX 9211.N72019 C22 V.1.



Submitted byEEon Wed, 04/14/2021 - 08:59

Ryan, the norm would be this:

To feature the record book:

  • Layer 1, cite the record book and item of interest within it;
  • Layer 2, cite the website and database that provides the images you are using;
  • Layer 3, report whatever the website identifies as its source.

To feature the database:

  • Layer 1, cite the "Database," Website (URL : date), and specific item of interest;
  • Layer 2, report whatever the website identifies as the source of its images.

In either case, if you want to add more about the origin, whereabouts, or quality of the record, you can simply tack on sentences to say whatever needs to be said.

May I ask why you feel that the norm does not fit your need? As you evaluate your draft, do you see essentials that are not included?


Submitted bysboerneron Tue, 06/18/2024 - 13:48

I understand that this is a three-year-old thread, but today I ran into the same source and at first was puzzled as to how it should be handled. Since the original poster never responded I thought I'd pick up where you left off.

Here is the document information, cut and pasted from the "Source" tab on Ancestry:

Source Citation

Presbyterian Historical Society; Philadelphia, PA, USA; US, Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1907; Book Title: Register_deaths_1832-1840; Accession Number: V Mi46 R58914rm V.3


Year: 1832-1940

Source Information

Ancestry.com. U.S., Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data:Church Registers. Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Using your outline above, here is the citation I have put together, featuring the record book:

"Names of Members: Brick Church," Rochester, New York, 1832–1940, unpaginated ledger arranged alphabetically by last name, entry for Maude Motley; database with images, “U.S., Presbyterian Church Records, 1701–1970,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/1500376264:61048 : accessed 18 June 2024) > image 180; citing "Register_deaths_1832–1840," accession no. V Mi46 R58914rm V.3, "US, Presbyterian Church Records, 1701–1907," Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The document title used here is embossed on the front cover (image 1 in the Ancestry viewer). I copied both collection titles and put them in quotes: The discrepancy in dates (1907 vs. 1970) looks suspicious to me; if there is a transposition who knows which is right. Same with the cited book title, which includes underscores and does not match the embossed title. (The document is more than a death register.)

I did a few searches at the Presbyterian Historical Society's website (https://www.history.pcusa.org/collections), hoping to clarify the "source of the source" citation. But I could not find this document.

I'd appreciate any comments you may have.