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Archives Home > Research: Citation Guide

Citation Guide for Primary Sources

General Guidelines | Examples

General Guidelines

By carefully documenting your sources, you acknowledge intellectual debts and provide readers with information about the materials you consulted during your research. Methods for citing primary sources (e.g., archival and manuscript collections) differ from those for published works. The discipline in which you are writing and class requirements will determine the citation system you should use. Typical elements of a citation include: document title, document date, location information, collection title, collection number, and repository name. Elements of a citation are usually listed from the most specific to the most general.

The following citation guidelines for primary sources are based on those in the Chicago Manual of Style, which you should consult for more detailed information.[1] Chicago distinguishes between citation systems for notes and bibliographies. In a footnote or endnote, the main element of a primary source citation is usually a specific item, which is cited first. If the specific item lacks a formal title, you may create one (e.g., photograph, interview, or minutes). Descriptive titles of this kind are not usually enclosed in quotation marks or italicized.

Include information about the specific location of an item in a collection by designating box and folder numbers. For example:

39. J.H. Campbell to James Groppi, Oct. 11, 1969, box 11, folder 1, James Groppi Papers, Milwaukee Mss EX, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Subsequent citations of the same item, or items from the same collection, may be shortened for the reader's convenience. The writer announces the use of short forms in a parenthetical statement at the end of the first citation, as follows:

39. J.H. Campbell to James Groppi, Oct. 11, 1969, box 11, folder 1, James Groppi Papers, Milwaukee Mss EX, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department (hereafter cited as Groppi Papers).

40. Sermon, Aug. 10, 1969, box 15, folder 8, Groppi Papers.

In a bibliography, the main element is usually the title of the collection in which the specific item may be found, the author(s) of the items in the collection, or the repository of the collection. Specific items are not usually mentioned in a bibliography. We recommend using the collection title as the main element of the citation. If the collection title includes a personal name, we recommend placing the last name first for the reader's convenience. For example:

Groppi, James, Papers. Milwaukee Mss EX. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Archives Department staff will gladly provide further guidance on citing primary sources in your research papers.

Examples of Citations for Items from the Archives Department of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries

Note Forms

41. Diary, 1899, box 3, vol. 4, John Johnston Family Papers, Milwaukee Mss BL, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

42. Scrapbook, 1928-1935, box 31, Milwaukee Public Schools, Department of Municipal Recreation and Community Education Scrapbooks, UWM Mss 151, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

43. Minutes, Jan. 9, 1956, box 2, folder 1, Jewish Family and Children's Service Records, Milwaukee Mss 87, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

44. Photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Simon Kander, undated, box 2, folder 1, Lizzie Black Kander Papers, Milwaukee Mss DN, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

45. Norman Adelman, interview by Michael A. Gordon, May 14, 2008, Oral History Interviews of the March on Milwaukee Oral History Project, UWM Mss Collection 281, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.[2]

46. Boycott of MacDowell School construction site, Dec. 8, 1965, Daily footage newsfilm, Milwaukee Journal Stations Records, Milwaukee Mss Collection 203, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Bibliographic Entries

Jewish Family and Children's Service Records. Milwaukee Mss 87. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Johnston, John, Family Papers. Milwaukee Mss BL. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Kander, Lizzie Black, Papers. Milwaukee Mss DN. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Milwaukee Journal Stations Records. Milwaukee Mss Collection 203. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Milwaukee Public Schools, Department of Municipal Recreation and Community Education Scrapbooks. UWM Mss 151. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Oral History Interviews of the March on Milwaukee Oral History Project. UWM Mss Collection 281. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.


Footnotes

1. Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 710-715. Examples also available here with campus subscription to the Chicago Manual of Style Online.

2. Note that Chicago provides specific guidelines for citing interviews and personal communications (705-707). Examples are available for both unpublished interviews and personal communications with campus subscription to the Chicago Manual of Style Online.


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