Casefile Clues

25 July 2012

Do Your Citations Indicate What Type Of Image or Copy You Used?

When genealogists use digital images of items, that is included in their citation--usually. Most genealogists who use citations in their work indicate if the item they used was located on website in digital format, such as land patents at the Library of Virginia, local records on Familysearch, census records on Ancestry.com, etc.

However, if you obtain "copies" of records from the National Archives those copies can be obtained in either paper format (black and white) or digital format (usually color). There may be clues in the color images of records that are not always evident in black and white images.

Do you indicate in your sources whether the image/copy used was black and white or color?

Do you think it is important to make this notation?

If I use a "copy" of a record from the National Archives and didn't view the material myself onsite and obtained it without visiting the facility directly, should I indicate whether the "image" used to make my transcription was a color copy or a black and white copy?

Does it matter?

I think it does, but I've not decided how to handle it.

If you don't think "color" matters, look at this image from a letter in a Civil War pension application. A black and white copy might "hide" the fact that there are two different handwritings (at least) on this document.

My interpretation of something may be different because I used a color copy versus a black and white copy.

We're using this letter in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues. I'm not certain if I'll have a good way of handling the citation by then, but we're working on it.

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