Source list entries for multiple locations, same U.S. Census year

Dear editor,

I'm creating the bibliography for a family history book. Many of my references are online images from FamilySearch. For any given census year, I might have citations for people living in different counties or states. The Quick Check Model for Digital Images on p. 237, uses a template of "Jurisdiction. Census ID, Schedule. Format. Website Title. URL. Year." The examples given in following pages of EE follow this model.

For my bibliography, this will result in multiple source list entries for any given year, even though they refer back to the same census year and URL. For example:

Indiana, Porter County. 1880 U.S. census, population schedule. Database with images. FamilySearch 2019.

Indiana, Lake County. 1880 U.S. census, population schedule. Database with images. FamilySearch 2019.

Iowa, Tama County. 1880 U.S. census, population schedule. Database with images. FamilySearch 2019.

(I'm using the more specific URL for this collection rather than the generic one for FamilySearch.) Could these be consolidated into a single source list entry, as is done in the examples in EE for online database entries, single-year database, leaving out the jurisdiction? The 3 examples above would become:

1880 U.S. census, population schedule. Database with images. FamilySearch 2019.

This helps to reduce the length of the bibliography and eliminates a lot of redundant verbiage. 

In EE, 6.3, you give the author the choice of using a chronological vs. geographical approach for source list entries. In the example above, I'm using the former, although I've changed the format slightly and left out the jurisdiction.

I understand the examples for online databases use the name of the collection rather than the generic census ID. But I don't understand why it is important to put the jurisdiction into the source list when the images are all stored in the same database. Of course, the reference notes will give the necessary information in layered citations for readers to locate the image. What are your thoughts?

Submitted byEEon Fri, 04/05/2019 - 09:51

jcasbon, yes indeed! Source lists are not item specific. They cite a book, but not the exact page. They cite a collection, but not the exact document. They cite a database, but not the specific item in the database. For our readers who have not seen it: EE's chapter 2 (Fundamentals of Citation), carries a section called "Organization" that runs from 2.38 through 2.54. Much of this deals with the creation of source lists.

Your example illustrates why source lists are not item specific. That format would work beautifully for, say, deeds from a certain county/state that are imaged at Family Search or Revolutionary War Pension Applications at Fold3.

However, with specific regard to censuses: would one source-list entry to the whole United States adequately serve you? Most researchers need some sense of what states and counties they've searched in a certain year. EE's census-specific chapter at 6.3 discusses the two most common approaches to arranging census entries in a Source List. These approaches identify censuses per se--not as citations to a database.

Submitted byjcasbonon Fri, 04/05/2019 - 12:02

Dear editor, thank you for taking the time to reply. It is nice to have a certain amount of flexibility in the art of writing sources and citations. For my purposes, I suspect a singe source-list entry for each U.S. census year will be sufficient. I will review the relevant sections of EE chapter 2 again, as you suggest.