File Naming versus Citations

I've been working with (online) and Family Tree Maker 2019 on my Mac for a number of years, and have been baffled by how to name (that is, identify) and cite my photographs, obituaries, scans, screen captures, as well as online census and newspapers in Ancestry and other online image databases.

After downloading and reading Zotero for genealogy, I looked at how I was naming my computer files. I decided to use the reverse name and ISO date format: last name, first name, middle initial YYYY-MM-DD title. So a scanned obituary of John Dough in June 15, 1943 would be named Dough, John 1943-06-15 Obituary.png. The file would be saved to the Genealogy/Surnames/DOUGH/Dough, John 1895-1943 folder on my computer.

But now there is a problem... how do I cite the source for the file? If there isn't any source information for the scanned clipping, I would go online and search for the obituary in various newspaper sites. Once I determined the newspaper name, publication date, page, and column I would put that information in the file comments. But, how do I cite the actual newspaper where the clipping came from, the scanned file copy, and the online newspaper database (if I did a screen capture)? Inquiring minds would like to know how the name the actual scanned file versus the online newspaper entry should be recorded. Thanks. John

Submitted byEEon Sat, 01/25/2020 - 17:32

John, two different issues seem to  be involved here:

1. How to cite an obituary.

2. How to create file names for the images that we save.

EE does not address the organization of research files. That's a topic covered by other manuals. EE covers obituaries at 3.40, 14.22. The QuickCheck model at p. 105 illustrates handling an obituary that's part of a scrapbook in private possession.

If you wish your citations to the obituary to identify the image file, then all you have to do is place a semicolon after the standard citation and say something such as

... ; for my digital copy, see Dough, John 1943-06-15 Obituary.png in the folder Genealogy/Surnames/DOUGH/Dough, John 1895-1943 folder.

Submitted byACProctoron Thu, 02/06/2020 - 09:02
This probably won't sound useful, John, but naming files by some combination of their meta-data is not good practice, despite being ubiquitous. I've written several articles about why the naming of folders and files is fundamentally different to indexing (e.g., and even written free bits of software to help people. I mention that it's not good practice from a computer-organsation point of view, but it's also different to how archives work, and even libraries. Trying to organise stuff (which is akin to file-naming) according to one scheme means that you won't find stuff by a different scheme, and you won't be able to group by natural attributes such as provenance.