Researchers love Ancestry and similar websites. Attorneys, biographers, genealogists, medical scientists, professional historians, and students all turn to them as the world’s largest shopping malls for historical records. These providers offer censuses, deeds and land grants, legal suits, medieval manorial rolls, military records, probate proceedings, prison files, vital records, and thousands of other types of materials for studying the past and reconstructing human lives.
An email forum for researchers currently carries a thread on citing long URLs vs. digital paths (aka “waypoints”). One commenter saw an advantage: If we cite the path, then we can eliminate layered citations. Can we really?
“I’m totally confused about citing online images,” he wrote. Why do some cite ARK numbers, some cite paths or waypoints, and some cite neither?”