Friday, August 29, 2014

Dear Randy: How Do I Cite an Online City Directory?

Reader Mary wrote recently saying that she had found one of her ancestors in a City Directory in's collection, and wondered how she should cite the record.

I have entries in city directories for several of my ancestors in the "City Directories, 1821-1989" database on, so I took the opportunity to craft a source citation using the RootsMagic source template for "Directories, City or County (Databases, online).  Here is the source template form:

The source citation created by this source template is:

"U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989", indexed database and digital images, ( : accessed 22 May 2010), page 195, Charles Auble entry; citing "Chicago, Illinois, City Directory, 1909 (Chicago, Ill.:n.p., 1909)."

Mary, and other readers, can substitute the database name, the provider, the access date, the page number, the person of interest, and the title, publisher and date of the specific city directory digitized in the online collection.

I tried using the "Directories, City or County (Images, online)" source template in RootsMagic but it did not mention the record collection for some reason, and it required a Master Source for each directory being sourced.  For example, the citation for the above entry would be:

Chicago, Illinois, City Directory, 1909 (Chicago, Ill. : n.p. 1909), page 195, entry for "Auble, Charles," digital image, ( : accessed 22 May 2010).

I like the first one better because it mentions the database, which is where I found the record.  I guess I could put the database name in the second citation also.

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

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