Citing Filmed Manuscripts from FHL



24 February 2014

Salt Lake City's Family History Library holds a rich trove of microfilmed records from around the world. Identifying that material clearly, in a way that will avoid confusion when it is needed again, can be a challenge. Each roll of film can hold a thousand or so images that may (or may not) be related in some way. For example, there may be several court registers from a certain county, or various administrative and sacramental registers from a single church,  or an assortment of totally unrelated record groups—each prefaced by a card (a “target”) identifying that part of the roll as “Item 1,” “Item 2,” etc.

FHL's cataloging entry for that roll of film is not what we use to create a citation. The catalog entry is a generic description of the contents of that roll, written broadly enough to embrace a variety of material. As such, the catalog entry serves as a finding aid, not a record title.

When we use any item from that roll, we need to cite the specific register (or file) and document we actually use. Let's say, for example, we use Item 3 on the roll. It's a manuscript volume with stamped words on its cover that read, "Police Court Minutes, Timbuctoo County, Whateverstate, 1823–1839." That title stamped on the cover is the title that we citenot the wording from the target—and we put quotation marks around the exact words we are quoting. In our working citations, it is also wise to identify the film on which we found the register and its location on the film. In that case, we would add, say, FHL microfilm 11,111,111, item 3 (without quotation marks). Whether or not the film's identification makes it into a final citation at publication time may depend upon an editor or a publisher's house style.

EE 7.38-39 and 10.23 offer more specifics about the treatment of FHL cataloging data in source list entries and reference notes.