Full or shortened reference citations?

I'm writing a report in which I'm citing several online digital images on the same website, taken from the same NARA publication and roll, with data collected in the same location but on different dates and with different page numbers, names/spellings, etc. Is it reasonable to create a shortened reference citation for those after the first and, if so, what's the appropriate way to do that? Or is it best to use a full citation for each source?

I've read EE section 10.39 on citing a run of tax records but am not sure if that applies in a case where the spellings are different even though it's the same person.

Here's the first citation:

U.S., IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918, Clayton County, Iowa; Division 13, Collection District 3, p. 38, line 28, Volga Township, 19 February 1864, entry for Bernard Cornathy; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 April 2021), citing NARA microfilm publication M766, roll 11.

The next is:

U.S., IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918, Clayton County, Iowa; Division 13, Collection District 3, p. 37, line 39, Volga Township, January 1866 for B. Conerthy; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 April 2021), citing NARA microfilm publication M766, roll 11.

Would the same treatment apply to a series of citations from the identical source but different people?

Thanks for your help!

Lesley K. Cafarelli

Submitted byEEon Sun, 12/05/2021 - 18:54

Lesley, as a starting point, let's think through this from a different angle. Well, two of them:


Where at Ancestry would one go to find the image you have used? Ancestry is a vast website with tens of thousands of databases, videos, articles, etc. Once we go to the URL you have cited (http://www.ancestry.com), where do we go then? Our citation to Ancestry must either give a specific URL or else identify the database and the path that will take us to the specific image.

In this case, you've placed the identity of the database (without quote marks) in the first layer of the citation where you provide partial details for an original record that is held at the National Archives. But NARA does not hold any collection called "IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918."  That label is a construct created by Ancestry as an umbrella for various NARA records. Because that is an Ancestry construct, that database ID must go in the layer in which you identify Ancestry


Your dilemma would be more easily resolved, if you reversed the layers. First cite Ancestry in the basic format for citing a website database (the same basic format as citing an individual chapter in a book). Then, after Ancestry's URL, provide the breadcrumbs for the path that takes us to your exact image. Your second layer, prefaced by the word citing, would then quote or paraphrase Ancestry's identification of its source, however complete or incomplete Ancestry's citation may be.

Take the two examples above and rephrase them to address these two points. Then we can see more clearly how to shorten them.


Submitted byMichael Haiton Thu, 12/09/2021 - 14:34

Some of these questions can also be answered by doing more research on the source you are using. For example, backtracking from the Ancestry database and images:

1. We see that the image is a digitized version of images from microfilm publication M766: Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for Iowa, 1862-1866. The first thing we should do is take a look at NARA's descriptive pamphlet for that publication.

2. The DP introduction explains the statutory authority behind the creation of these lists and some information about the archival organization of the records. One point that it reveals is that the microfilm images three different kinds of lists: annual, monthly, and "special." Your citation does not indicate which type of list you are citing. This should be part of the descriptive title.

3. The DP also notes that "The lists are arranged by collection district and thereunder by division. They are filmed in the order in which they are bound in the volumes." Your citation should reflect this, so rather than starting with the county, then the division, then the collection district, the citation should start with the collection district, then the division, then the county.