Layered Source Citations: What Comes First?

I'm trying to settle on a consistent and accurate way to cite images from online databases such as Ancestry and FamilySearch and keep running into issues. For this example, I'll use an online image of an NYC marriage record on FamilySearch.

The issue at hand:

• According to QuickLesson 25, the way you site databases with images is as such: 

“Name of Database in Quotation Marks,” type of database material, Title of Website in Italics (URL=Place of Publication : date of publication or access), exact item of interest.

This would lead me to create a citation like this:

“Bronx marriage certificates, 1897-1938; groom index, 1898-1937”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 06 July 2020) > Cert. no. 1900-2730 20 May 1924-25 Jul 1924 > image 786 of 1261, certificate and record of marriage no. 2416 (1924), Elmar H. Buttenhoff and Rose V. Lambow; citing FHL microfilm 1,954,626.

However, in that same QuickLesson, it ALSO states to cite the original in layer 1 and the database in layer 2. This would contradict the outlined source above, and instead would read like this I believe:

The City of New York Department of Health, certificate and record of marriage No. 2416 (1924), Elmar H. Buttenhoff and Rose V. Lambow; imaged in “Bronx marriage certificates, 1897-1938; groom index, 1898-1937," database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 06 July 2020) > Cert. no. 1900-2730 20 May 1924-25 Jul 1924 > image 786 of 1261; citing FHL microfilm 1,954,626.

All in all, I feel like I'm missing something. It's mostly the same information, just arranged differently. So, is it just up to personal preference and that's why it seems like both are correct? I'd appreciate any insight and thank you for your time!

Submitted byEEon Tue, 07/07/2020 - 19:57

Maritalia, QuickLesson 25 gives that pattern as the basic pattern for databases (no images). Then it builds on the basics in steps:

First it tells you this:

"Some databases with images also have a simple structure that can be cited with this same pattern. All we have to do is change the description of our item of interest:

“World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 January 2017), imaged card for Clovis Julian, no. 120, New Orleans Draft Board 13.

"However, things are changing—especially with the mega-providers."

At that point QuickLesson 25 introduces

  • ARK & PAL Citations
  • ARK + Path Citations, and
  • Path Citations without ARK or PAL.

Consistency—i.e., one basic form for citing everything—would be wonderful. Unfortunately, the websites we use for records are not consistent in the manner in which they image the materials or the structure of their delivery process.

For the materials you are using, your second citation is the clearest. EE would not agree that it's "mostly the same information, just arranged differently." The first approach eliminates something essential: the creator of the record. With the first approach, you will also have difficulty creating a short-citation for future references to that document. With the second approach, for the shortened citation, you can simply lop off the last 38 words and have a tidy citation to the original.

Incidentally, since you are citing a database, it would help the users of your citation (and yourself as well, when you have to consult this source again), if you would lengthen the URL to include the collection number:

https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/693839

Submitted bymaritaliaon Wed, 07/08/2020 - 09:59

EE - Thank you so much for the clarification, this makes much more sense now. I see I was confusing the initial database citation as one that included images. It definitely makes sense to include the creator of the record, I did feel like something was missing! And I never thought about including the collection number, that is definitely handy. From this insight, I've created the following citation:

The City of New York Department of Health, certificate and record of marriage no. 2416 (1924), Elmar H. Buttenhoff and Rose V. Lambow; imaged in “Bronx marriage certificates, 1897-1938; groom index, 1898-1937," database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/693839 : accessed 06 July 2020) > Cert. no. 1900-2730 20 May 1924-25 Jul 1924 > image 786 of 1261; citing FHL microfilm 1,954,626.