Image numbering in citing online images

Dear Editor;

In sec. 6.8 of the 3rd. Ed. of Evidence Explained, I read the following and had a few simple questions:

Online providers of census images may assign an image number that is different from any of the page numbers above. Citing the image number is not advised. Not only do those differ from one provider to another, but they can change within a provider’s own system when the website is reorganized or more material is imaged. 

                                Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace
                               (p. 267). Elizabeth Shown Mills. Kindle Edition.
  1. Is this still your current thinking on the issue? I am asking since I use Ancestry quite a bit and often find that people include the image numbers and even the image count.
  2. Does this line of thinking extend to other types of records? If so, what is the "litmus test" for whether or not to include image numbers (and even image counts)?

Submitted byEEon Fri, 10/25/2019 - 12:06

History-Hunter, that comment applies to census images. Many individuals who consult the images online will cite the census without the provider, on the premise that the images are the same regardless of the provider, but then they cite the image number of that particular provider in lieu of a page number.


Dear Editor;

Thank you. If I cite a census, I will make sure to follow the book and not include image numbers. (Once I'm sure of the rules, I prefer to follow them.)

There may be one wrinkle to this, but I think that it's likely not an issue. When I check the front of the census book to get the RD, SD and ED, I sometimes find a folio and no page number. In terms of completing the citation of a specific page of that book, I assume that I can simply use the initial page information in my citation without referencing the page or folio. In that sense, it's the same as if I were looking at the title-page of a physical book to get the info to complete a citation.

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Tue, 10/29/2019 - 10:11

Dear Editor;

I've looked through the Evidence Explained ebook and have only seen one reference to image numbers. I also don't see them used in many of the examples.

Is there any EE guidance on when to note image numbers from sites such as Ancestry (other than previously noted)? Is it as simple as using them just when the database image is only accessible via browsing?

Submitted byEEon Fri, 11/01/2019 - 10:57
History-Hunter, image numbers are usually necessary when we have to cite a path to get from a provider's main page, through several organizational layers, down to the image. See, for example, EE 5.20 (Yountville Cemetery), 8.18 (Jefferson County court records), 7.18 (St. Liborious Church), or 9.9 (Vermont "Enrolled Militia"). There are also a number of discussions on the topic here at EE's website, including QuickLesson 25.