Internet Citation Guide for Genealogists 

The rapid growth of the Internet has outstripped the pace at which citation standards have been revised to include Internet sources. So, the purpose of this page is to serve as a guideline, if preliminary, to citing genealogically related material found on the Internet. For the most part, the citation examples below are modeled after traditional citation styles. 

Some Helpful General Guidelines:

Typically, a modern word processor program will add a hyperlink automatically to a URL once you type it into the document. Usually, printed paper documents have the automatic underlining of the hyperlink removed.

Web pages are often transient in nature and material can be published and taken down, removed or edited. It is advisable that for whatever information you cite, you also print it. For very long pages, at the very least, print the portion of the page that is significant to your research and as much in context as possible. For PCs, highlight the text (and contextual material), right click your mouse and push print. Your printer software will generally ask you if you want to print everything, particular pages *or* the selection you've marked. To print just the selection click "selection" in the printer software. 

Printer software can also be set to print the URL and date of printing at the bottom or top of each page. Read your printer manual to determine these settings. Both the date and the URL are significant citation points for Internet pages.

If you are an Internet author, publisher or web developer, consider placing a full bibliographic citation reference at the bottom of your page to make it easier for individuals quoting your material or using it in their research to properly cite it.

When citing Internet material it is advisable to make a special note about the accessibility of the information. If the cited material is from a subscriber only database, or if the access expires after a certain period of time, then that is important to include in the citation.

Some citation specialists suggest identifying a URL within brackets <http://www.a-url-here.com>. But, this practice is more a matter of style than content.

We've compiled a few Internet citations, below, that you can cut and paste into your word processors. A few of the more common citations  are here. And, you can read more about this topic with off-site resources.

 

Samples of Internet Citations

A Printed Journal Article republished online:  

General Format:  Author, "article title," _publishing web site_, [originally published _journal name in italics_, journal volume, journal issue (journal publication date)], <publishing web site URL>, web page accessd date. 

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

Scott, Thomas, "The Charles Jacob McQuain Family Cemetery, Thomas C. Scott property, Big Cove Creek, Gilmer County [West Virginia]," Allegheny Regional Family History Society [originally published Journal of the Allegheny Regional Ancestors, Volume 6, Issue 2 - Summer (1997): Allegheny Regional Family History Society], <http://www.swcp.com/~dhickman/journals/V6I2/mcquaincem.html>, accessed 23 December 2007.

Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, "The Complete Mayflower Descendant, Vols. 1-46 & Others Sources, 1600s-1800s," Genealogy.com [originally published in "Reports from State Societies" The Mayflower Descendant, Volume X, No. 1, January (1908), Page 255: available from the Genealogy.com subscriber databases, <http://www.genealogy.com/ifa/co_cd203.html>, accessed 28 December 2007.

 

Articles or Newsletters Published online:

General Format:  Author, "article title," title of Newsletter or Journal, (newsletter date) (Online:  site publisher, published date), <url of article>, web page access date.

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

Neill, Michael John, "World War I Draft Registration Cards," Ancestry Daily News (26 December 2001) (Online: The Generations Network, Inc., 2001), <http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/5056.asp>, accessed 27 December 2001.

Cottrill, Natalie, "After the Click, Please Leave a Message - Effective Use of Message Boards on the Internet," Genealogy.com Learning Center (30 November 2000) (Online: The Generations Network, Inc., 2001), <http://www.genealogy.com/genealogy/78_cottrill.html>, accessed 23 December 2001.

 

Books Reprinted or Republished online:  

There are many books reprinted online for genealogy purposes. They are primarily in large database sites, but you'll find some on free home pages. It is important to note the original publisher as well as the usual book citation material so that if there is any concern about the veracity of the online edition, the original can be tracked down and inspected.

General Format:  Book author, book title, page number cited (Online:  Online publisher, online published date) [Original published original publisher name, original publish date], <URL of page>, web page access date.

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

D. Mason, "History of Essex County: with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers," Ancestry.com (Online: The Generations Network, 2008) [originally published as the History of Essex County : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers at Syracuse, NY: D. Mason, 1885], <http://www.ancestry.com>, accessed January 2008.

MacLean, J.P., "A History of the Clan MacLean," Genealogy.com (Online:  Genealogy.com, Inc., 1996-2001) [Original published MacLean, J.P. A History of the Clan MacLean, Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1889], page 25, <http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/_glc_/5681 />, accessed 7 January 2002.

Longyear, Edmund J., "The Descendants of Jacob Longyear of Ulster County, New York," Ancestry.com (Online: The Generations Network, 2008) [originally published asThe descendants of Jacob Longyear of Ulster County, New York, New Haven, Connecticut: Privately printed for the compiler by Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Co., 1942], <http://content.ancestry.com/Browse/BookList.aspx?dbid=11968>, accessed January 2008.

 

A Magazine Article published online:  

There aren't many genealogy magazines, which also publish articles online. But, for the time when you need to cite one, here's a sample.

General Format:  Author, article, magazine name, issue volume, issue date, available from [magazine website], note whether full or abbreviated edition, <URL of article>, web page access date.

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

Emily Croom, "Group Thinking, Birds of a feather flock together—and so did your ancestors, leaving valuable clues with their clusters of family, friends and neighbors. Here's how "cluster genealogy" can get your research off the ground," Family Tree Maker Magazine, December 2001 Issue; available from the Family Tree Magazine Web Site, abbreviated edition, <http://www.familytreemagazine.com/articles/dec01/cluster.html>, accessed 15 December 2001.

 

Abstracts published online:  

These are typical of family history websites such as Rootsweb and USGenWeb and personal websites with original records abstracts. Make certain to note the transcriber and the root (main) URL as well as the original publisher material.

General Format:  Abstractor or compiler, "title of abstract," transcription date if any,Title of Web Page (Online:  Internet publisher, Internet published date) [Original author or compiler, original title of the abstracted source, original publisher name, original published date, original pages cited], <URL of web page>, web page access date.

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

Ted Reising, trans., "History of Berlin Township [Erie County, Ohio]," transcribed December 1998, Erie County Ohio USGenWeb Site (Online: Rootsweb.com, 2001) [Hudson Tuttle, "History of Berlin Township," from book History of Huron and Erie Counties, Ohio, originally published by W.W.Williams, 1879, pages 475-489], <ftp://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/oh/erie/history/BerlHist.txt>, accessed 25 December 2001.

"Jacob Dulworth Biography," Kentucky Biographies Project (Online: Kentucky Biographies Project, 2001) [Original book entitled Kentucky: A History of the State, Adair County, published by Perrin, Battle, Kniffin, 4th ed., 1887, no page cited], <http://www.starbase21.com/kybiog/adair/dulworth.j.txt>, accessed 20 December 2001.

 

Databases and database indexes published online:  

Some Internet databases are newly created for online use, while others are repurposed material from previously published electronic database media or paper indexes. Try to find the original origins of the material. If they are described on the database, included that information in the citation.

General Format:  Database developer or compiler, "Title of Database," Title of Website (Online:  Internet publisher, Internet published date) [Original data publisher, original published date], <URL of database>, web page access date.

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

"Ohio Death Certificate Index, Searchable Database, 1913-1937" Ohio Historical Society (Online: Ohio Historical Society, 1998) [Original published Ohio Department of Health Division of Vital Statistics, 1970], <http://www.ohiohistory.org/dindex/search.cfm>, accessed 23 December 2001.

Development Services Division of the Bureau of Information Services, "Indexes of Maine Marriages: 1892-1966, 1976-1996," Maine State Archives (Online: Maine State Archives, 2001), <http://portalx.bisoex.state.me.us/pls/archives_mhsf/
archdev.marriage_archive.search_form>, accessed 23 December 2004. 

Cleveland Public Library, "Cleveland Necrology File," Cleveland Public Library (Online: Cleveland Public Library, 2001) [Originally published as "Card Index to Paid Death Notices Published in: Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1850-1975, the Cleveland Herald, 1833, 1847-1848, 1876, 1878-1879 and the Cleveland Press, August 16, 1941 - 1975," Cleveland Public Library Staff, n.d.], <http://www.cpl.org/databases.asp?action=dball>, accessed 23 December 2004.

 

Search Engines online:  

This type of citation is definitely new with the advent of computers and the Internet. Search engines are typically databases of text and associated URLS that represent a conglomerate of databases or web pages or other electronic media published online. Instead of picking up a particular book and skimming the index, we can now search billions of pages from millions of books in a few minutes. When using these search engines, it is often necessary to cite the search - separately from any positive results that might be obtained from the search. Search engine databases are particularly transient and the citation should be carefully qualified not only as to the location of the search engine but also the date and scope of the search. 

General Format:  Name of Search Engine (Online:  online publisher, online published date), <url of search engine>, examined for [scope of the search', search engine access date.

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

Genealogy.com (Online: Genealogy.com, LLC, 1996-2001), <www.genealogy.com>, examined for any reference to A., Arch, Archie, or Archibald Gregory, accessed 25 December 2001.

Google.com (Online: Google.com, Inc., 2001), <www.google.com>, examined for any reference to "Archibald Gregory," or "Gregory, Archibald," accessed 23 December 2001.

Rootsweb Meta Search (Online:  The Generations Network, Inc., 2001), <www.rootsweb.com>, examined for any reference to first name Archibald and last name Gregory, accessed 24 December 2001.

USGenWeb Archives (Online:  The Generations Network, Inc., 2001), <http://searches.rootsweb.com/htdig/search.html>, examined for any reference to "Archibald Gregory," accessed 24 December 2001.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Ancestral File," v4.19, FamilySearch(Online: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., 1999-2001), Individual Record of Archibald GREGORY (Ancestral File Number: 4DFX-QX), <http://www.familysearch.org>, accessed 24 December 2001.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "International Genealogical Index,"FamilySearch (Online: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., 1999-2001), <http://www.familysearch.org>, examined for any reference to first name Archibald last name Gregory, accessed 24 December 2001.

"AIS Census Indexes, 1790-1870," Ancestry.com (Online: The Generations Network, Inc., 2001) [Original published by R. V. Jackson, ed., Accelerated Indexing Systems, Inc., 19--], <http://www.ancestry.com/search/
rectype/census/ais/main.htm>, examined 1870 for reference to Archibald Gregory, accessed 20 December 2001.

 

Images online:

Many personal and commercial web sites offer images online. As with all material, cite where you found the image published on the Internet. Then, if the original publication media and date are known, include that material as well. The logic behind this latter practice is so that the original can be consulted, if necessary, for clarification purposes.

General Format:  Online presenter, "name of Image and description" type of image,Name of Website (Online:  online publisher, online publish date), specific page number or citation within the website, <url or image>, (original publisher, original publish date), web page accessed date.

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

1870 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Concord Township, Clinton County, Missouri, Dwelling 134, Family 134, Virgil Dixon household," jpeg image, (Online: The Generations Network, Inc., 2001) [Digital scan of original records in the National Archives, Washington, DC], subscription database, <http://www.ancestry.com>, accessed 23 Dec 2001.

Henry Churchyard, "Photograph of Vesta Ruth Huntzinger Hann (Carson), 1900" jpeg image, Our Family Museum: A Collection of Family History Notes (Online: Henry Churchyard, 2001), <http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/gen/vesruthh.html>, accessed 21 Dec 2001.

Priestnall Family Genealogy, "Photograph of St Marys Church, Cheadle, Cheshire"Priestnall Genealogy Its Roots and Its People (Online: Mike Matthews, 2001) [Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, n.d.], <http://www.priestnall.org.uk/cheadle.html>, accessed 20 December 2004.

 

GEDCOM data online:

General Format:  GEDCOM creator/author, <email address>, "title of GEDCOM," GEDCOM database, upload date, <url of GEDCOM> (Online:  Sponsoring web site or publisher, date of publication), GEDCOM access date.

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

Karen Hammel <khamdc@editedout.com>, "Hammel/White Family," GEDCOM database uploaded 25 Aug 2001, Ancestry World Tree  (Online: The Generations Network, Inc., 2001), <http://www.ancestry.com>, accessed 19 December 2004.

Rebecca Cockrill <pearl7777@editedout.com>, "Ferguson/Taylor Family," GEDCOM database uploaded May 19, 2001, Gencircles (Online: GenCircles.com, 2001), <http://www.gencircles.com/users/rebeccacockrill>,accessed 24 December 2001.

Bill Reque <mailto:reque@editedout.com>, "Bill Reque's GEDCOM," GEDCOM database uploaded February 8, 1999, My-Ged.com (Online: My-Ged.com, 2001), <http://www.my-ged.com/reque />, accessed 20 December 2001.

 

Newspaper articles online:

General Format:  Author, "title of article," newspaper name, newspaper regional coverage place, day of publication, date of publication, news section, availability, <URL of article>, web page access date.

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

"Obituary of Dorothy F. Barber," The Columbus Dispatch, Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio, Tuesday, December 18, 2001, Obituary section, available in print and available online for 90 days from publication at <http://www.dispatch.com/obituaries/obituaries.php>, accessed 26 December 2001.

Mark Shaffer, "Pike Sheriff: Murder, Suicide was Domestic Related," [Murder of Cherry A. Cook and Larry Lee Melick] The Portsmouth Daily Times, Portsmouth, Scioto County, Ohio, Wednesday, August 22, 2001, available online <http://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/search/search_detail.cfm?ID=311>, accessed 28 December 2001.

 

Mailing Lists and List Serves:

General Format:  Author's name <or email if name is not given>, "subject line of list message," Online Posting, date of post, name of hosting list group, <list message location online>, web page access date.

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

Andra Barnhouse <email@editedout>, "Please Help if You Can," Online Posting, Sun, 20 May 2001, BARNHOUSE-L@rootsweb.com, <http://listsearches.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/listsearch.pl?list=BARNHOUSE>, accessed 19 December 2001.

 

Genealogy Forums online:  

Millions upon millions of genealogy users have actively participated in online forums. Thus, there are many wonderful textual abstracts that can be used to assist your family history research. These should be cited and credited to the forum and mailing list author.

General Format:   Author, <author email address>, "title or subject of posting," Online posting, posting date, Name of forum (Online: Publisher of forum), <URL of form message>, access date.

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

Karen Harris, <paulroark@editedout.com>, "Charles E. McQuaid marriage 1884 SF CA," McQuaid Surname Forum, Online posting dated December 06, 2001 at 21:53:37 (Online:  Genealogy.com, LLC., 1996-2001), <http://genforum.genealogy.com/mcquaid/messages/304.html>, accessed 25 December 2001.

Linda Fraser <phaser@editedout.com>, "Huge Richard Thornley," General Derbyshire England Forum, Online posting dated 28 Dec 2001 11:37 AM GMT (Online: The Generations Network, Inc., 2001), <http://boards.ancestry.com/mbexec?htx=message&r=rw&p=
localities.britisles.england.dby.general&m=1576l>, accessed 25 December 2001.

 

Personal Email:  

You can cite a personal email very simply. Please note, however, that before you reprint any personal portion of an email, common courtesy suggests that you obtain permission. Before you reprint any significant portion of any email, copyright law dictates that you obtain permission from the author. If it is a forwarded email, cite the original author, and original sent date, as well.

General Format:  Email author <author email address>, "subject line," email to recipient's name, sent date.

Cut and Paste Stylesheet:

Examples:

Josie Freelove <jfreelove@madeup.com>, "The Freelove ancestry in Mississippi," e-mail to author, sent 19 January 2001.

Jeremiah Cornwall <jerrycorn@madeup.com>, "Too many Cornwalls in Maine," e-mail to James Sutherland, sent 25 May 2001, (Originally authored 15 Feb 2000 by Fred Rocket <fr@fabricated.com>)

 

Additional Reading:

Do you want the full scoop on how to compose all sorts of citations for genealogical research? Order Evidence! : Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills - the definitive guide to citations

Cool Tools:

Natalie Cottrill, "Internet Citation Guide for Genealogists," ProGenealogists, updated 19 Sep 2003, (Online: ProGenealogists, Inc., 2003), <http://www.progenealogists.com/citationguide.htm>

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