Citing City Directories' TMI

I was researching my Grandfather, Amandus E. Diethrich in Pennsylvania on and discovered a City Directory, image p 187, listing his occupation as carpenter and residence as 125 Luna. Even though his surname was misspelled (it was spelled without the middle h) I am certain this is my Grandfather as the misspelling is very common. On top of the image page was "U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 for Amandus Deithrich" followed by  "Pennsylvania > Pittsburgh > 1899 > Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1899".                                  

I started looking for help on creating a citation and I noticed upon examining the Source Information provided by Ancestry regarding the image a note saying to check the directory title page image for full title and publication information.

In trying to create a citation I also examined the 2019 QuickSheet Citing Ancestry Databases & Images Evidence Style and EE Third Edition Revised, 12.54, 12.55 and 12.56.

I began examining the microfilmed image pages provided by Ancestry to try and find the publisher.

After seeing the following I decided to seek your help rather than attempting to creat a citation that I would eventually have to rewrite over and over. Also, I think if I can understand the process behind this citation I will be able to write a citation for future city directories on my own.

The following is what I found on the pages of the microfilm images.

On page 3, "UNITED STATES CITY DIRECTORIES 1882-1901 PITTSBURGH, PA  REEL 14 1899-1900"                                                      "microfilmed by RP new haven, conn  06525                                                                                                                   research publications, inc."


On page 11, "Pittsburgh and Allegheny Directory ... for 1899".

                     "R.L. Polk & Co. & R.L. Dudley, Publishers".

As noted in the subject line, TMI (too much information), I am not sure how to proceed. How many layers do I have? Does all of the information have to be included in the Source List Entry and/or the Reference Note?

Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated as I have quite a few city directories for various ancestors that I would like to include in my research. I apologize for the length of this post but I wantd to provide as much information as I could to give you a clear picture of what I was seeing.

Thank You

Ron Stephen



Submitted byEEon Sun, 11/07/2021 - 17:13

Ron, you’ve well described how everybody feels about Ancestry’s source data: TMI!  What’s relevant is mixed with what isn’t relevant, much of it is repeated, and the whole conglomerate is broken into irrational parts.  We love the information that Ancestry provides. For anyone doing historical research, it's often impossible to do thorough research without consulting Ancestry's offering. But once we wade into its source information, we’re ready to scream. 

Let’s break this down into basics.


  • You’re citing a city directory.
  • A city directory is a book.
  • Therefore, the first layer of  your citation is to the book you are eyeballing.


  • That book is delivered to you online by a provider, therefore you cite the provider in the second layer.
  • That provider has a website and websites—being standalone publications—are cited like a book.
  • That website has individual databases, articles, and videos, that are cited like chapters in a book.


Standard book citations do not cite the library in which the book appears.

The basic pattern for the first layer (the book itself) also appears at EE 12.55 in the 3d edition.  EE’s Ancestry QuickSheet follows the basic pattern for R. L. Polk directory images offered by Ancestry.

Is there a reason why you feel the basic pattern doesn’t work in your case.

Submitted byRon Stephenon Tue, 12/07/2021 - 13:56

OK, here goes. Based on the information I provided earlier this is what I came up with.

Source List

Pittsburgh and Allegheny Directory: Adjacent Territory and Complete Business Compendium of Allegheny County for 1899. Pittsburgh: R. L. Polk & Co. & R. L. Dudley, 1899.

First Reference Note

Pittsburgh and Allegheny Directory: Adjacent Territory and Complete Business Compendium of Allegheny County for 1899. (Pittsburgh: R. L. Polk & Co. & R. L. Dudley, 1899). 318, "Dietrich [Diethrich] Amandus", imaged in "U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995", Ancestry ( accessed 25 November 2018) > Pennsylvania > Pittsburgh > 1899 > City Directory

Two questions arise.

Is the subtitle Adjacent...Allegehny County necessary or preferred?

Is it correct to include the waypoints?  I didn't use them to find this record originally.

I hope this is close to being correct given the above information.

I appreciate any guidence you can provide.

Thank You, Ron