city directory

Just when I thought I understood citing my sources, I come across information about city directories and discover that I really don't have a clue as to what I am doing. Help is needed please as I try cleaning up my citations. I am struggling with the below citation. How do I communicate that I was searching the Allen County Genealogy Society webpage and through a link was directed to the Internet Archive webpage to view an image of this particular directory? I believe I have cited the image and then the website, but the source of the source is where I get confused. Am I citing ACGSI website, Internet Archive, the directory or all three?


Fort Wayne, Indiana, city directory, (1885-1886), database with images, Internet Archive ( : downloaded 29 September 2019) entry for Frederick Belchner [Belschner] and Mary Belchner [Belschner]; citing Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center (; citing Fort Wayne City Directory, 1885-1886, volume 9 (Detroit, Michigan: R. L. Polk & Co., 1885), page 92.

Submitted byEEon Thu, 11/21/2019 - 20:01

Tami, if you are looking at the imaged pages at a website, then

  • Layer 1 of your citation cites that book just as you cite any book. The basic book citation is in EE's QuickStart guide, those gray pages tipped into the front of the book. You'll also find a QuickCheck Model for it at the start of the chapter 12, which covers books and other standalone publications.  EE's specific discussions about city directories. (12.55-12.58) cover a number of quirks that we frequently find in this type of book.
  • Layer 2 of your citation will then cite the website at which you found these book images and the database through which the image is delivered and/or searched. The basic format for citing websites and their databases is also in QuickStart guide.

You rarely need to have a layer saying "citing ..." for a published book because (with rare exception) the provider also images the title page and copyright page. You can see for yourself all the necessary details for that book's layer of the citation. You are not dependent upon what the website provider says.

We add that "citing ...." layer only when

  • the provider images something like a manuscript out of an archive and the images themselves provide no evidence of where the material came from or insufficient identity. It's necessary then to add the layer to report what the provider says about the source of its information—such as file numbers, collection names, archives and location.
  • the provider copies the images from, say, microfilm produced by some other entity. In this case, we add it not only to give credit to the original publisher, but also so that we will know, at a later date, that we're dealing with copies of copies of copies—a fact that could affect the legibility of the information we're relying upon or might result in missing pages. Also, considering that websites all-too-frequently take down databases they once offered, knowing that the site's images came from, say, FamilySearch microfilm can help us access the material again.

One final point, which you may not have been meant when you constructed this citation. You have two "citing ..." layers.

  • First you cite the book, with partial data. Then you say that the book is citing the website.
  • Then, after you give website data, you say the website is citing the book, with a repetition of book data and the addition of other data.

The book would not be citing the website. What you undoubtedly meant to say there at the start of the layer for the website is imaged, ... or imaged in ... followed by the name of the database "City Directories of Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana," followed by the identity of the website and its publication location (URL).