PDF scan of a privately held diary, original unpaginated & entries not in chronological order

I'm working with a PDF scan of a 19th c. diary, privately held. The diarist did not use the ledger pages consecutively and the scan may not have been done in order either--it's hard to tell. At times it seems to run backwards; other entries seem randomly placed. I have created a key for my own use, so I can find things, but don't know how to cite it.

The original is an unpaginated ledger, scanned like an open book, with two pages (verso & recto) in each image. Facing pages may be consecutive or from different weeks, months, or years. A single day's entry may start on, say, PDF page 377, then continue on 369. The following day might start on 369, but jump someplace else.

Example: I just wrote a paragraph narrating a few days in March, 1855. If I used PDF page numbers in an order that follows the calendar and the narrative, the entry for March 8-18, 1855, would be: "pp. 377, 369, 365, 360-361." Putting the numbers in order (pp. 360-361, 365, 377) would look sensible but actually be misleading.

In the source list entry I can include a note about this confusion, but I am especially concerned about how to handle the first and subsequent footnotes.

Any suggestion would be very welcome. This diary is a major source for two of my book's chapters.

Submitted byEEon Sun, 02/11/2024 - 14:59

Hello, Stitchy.

You did not say how you acquired the PDF—whether you created it yourself, obtained it from some other private source, or received it from a library or archive. Provenance matters much more than physical form. Can you provide more detail?  (A sample image or two, to demonstrate the number-sequence problem you mention, would also be useful.  We also need a basic draft from you so that we have concrete details to work with.)

Beyond this, another question is basic: what does it matter whether the diary was digitally scanned or photocopied as was common in the past? Why would a PDF be cited differently from a photocopy such as the one cited at EE3's 3.29 (or EE4: 4.28)?  Why/how does this differ from the other examples of unpaginated or erratically paginated material, as discussed at EE3's 4.5, 4.18, or 7.15  (EE4: 5.5, 5.18, or 8.15) ?