Citing Alphabetized Files

 
 
 

24 March 2014

As researchers, we have to thoughtfully analyze not only each record we use but also each record set, in order to ensure that we capture all essential details at point-of-contact.

Many archives have card files or record files that are arranged by personal names, in alpha order—as, for example, the Compiled Military Service Records that we get from our National Archives or the pension files we may find online at providers such as Fold3. Because these materials are "loose items," citations to them are generally more complex than citations to manuscript registers.

Typically, these files have multiple individuals of the same name, in which case they may or may not have other identifiers (dates, military units, etc.) as part of the file's title. If a file carries a complicated label, we copy the full label and put quotation marks around the title (a logical point, given that we are quoting from that label). If a file or card label only carries a name and there are multiple individuals of that name, then our citations should include any and all details necessary to distinctly identify the individual of interest. When we create our own title, or parts of it, we don't put quotation marks around details that we add, because we aren't quoting.

EE 4.25 and a dozen other passages offer guidance on the use of many types of files and card files.