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F&M College Library

Citing Primary Sources: Home

Citing Primary Sources

Citing primary sources can be challenging. Unlike other publications, primary sources might have complicated publication information and will not fit the standard format for the citation styles you might be used to. Additionally, primary sources come in various formats and/or may be unpublished and only accessible virtually in a digital archive or in a physical archive. 

When in doubt as to proper citation, it is best to remain consistent by citing the same types of materials in the same fashion using your best judgment.

Citing a primary source document, from an archives, varies depending on the preference of your instructor, the publication you are submitting the article, or the discipline in which you are operating...

There are several elements to the citation which may be necessary to properly cite a document such as the Booth Tarkington letter to the left.

The document: The creator or author, specific item title, page, section, date.

Box and file number: The majority of materials found in archives, that are not books, are housed in some sort of container and within the container the various items are separated for various reasons in files.

Repository: This is the name of the archives.

Citing from F&M College Archives & Special Collections

General Guidelines for Chicago Manual Style 

 

Footnote: 1. Author [First Name, Last Name], Title or description of item, date, Collection or RG number, Archives and Special Collections, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA. 

Bibliography: Author [Last Name, First Name]. Title or description of item, date. Collection or RG number,  Archives and Special Collections, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA. 


 

Manuscript Material

 
Chicago Manual Style (CMS)

Footnote: 

1. John F. Reynolds, Letter to Cate Reynolds, 2 September 1861, MS 006 Reynolds Family Papers, Franklin & Marshall College, Archives and Special Collections, Lancaster, PA.

Bibliography: 

Reynolds, John F., Letter to Cate Reynolds, 2 September 1861. MS 006 Reynolds Family Papers. Franklin & Marshall College, Archives and Special Collections, Lancaster, PA.

Modern Language Association (MLA)

Reynolds, John F. "Letter to Cate Reynolds." 2 September 1861. Reynolds Family Papers. Franklin & Marshall College, Archives and Special Collections, Lancaster, PA.


 

College Archives Material

 
Chicago Manual Style (CMS)

Footnote: 

1. Office of Athletics Annual Report, 1971, Box 1, Record Group 12/05/02, Franklin & Marshall College, Archives and Special Collections, Lancaster, PA.

Bibliography: 

Office of Athletics Annual Report, 1971, Box 1, Record Group 12/05/02. Franklin & Marshall College, Archives and Special Collections, Lancaster, PA.

Modern Language Association (MLA)

Athletics Annual Report, 1971. Box 1. Record Group 12/05/02. Franklin & Marshall College, Archives and Special Collections, Lancaster, PA.

MLA Examples

A few examples of citation of primary sources (MLA style):

 

Manuscripts

An entire collection:

National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Southwest Region.
     US District Court Records, Southern District of California.
     Record Group 21, Criminal Case # 1323.

Franklin and Marshall College, Archives and Special Collections. 
    Reynolds Family Papers. MS Group 06, Series X.

Unpublished typescript:

Brubaker, John. Hullabaloo Nevonia. ts. MSS 29. Franklin and 
     Marshall College, Archives and Special Collections, Lancaster PA.

Unpublished manuscript:

Smith, John. Diary. ms. Record Group 12/05/02. Franklin and Marshall College, 
     Archives and Special Collections, Lancaster, PA.

Unpublished letter:

Reynolds, John F. Letter to Cate Reynolds. 2 September 1861.
     Reynolds Family Papers. Franklin and Marshall College, 
     Archives and Special Collections, Lancaster, PA.

Published letter:

Reynolds, William. "To Lydia Reynolds." 2 June 1839. Letter 8 of 
     Voyage to the Southern Ocean Ed. Ann Hoffman Cleaver and 
     Jeffrey Stann. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1988. 68-69.

Government Publications
Congressional Record Vol LV, Part 4 (65th Congress) Washington DC: 
     Government Printing Office, 1917.

Books published before 1900
Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, with 
     Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects . Philadelphia, 1794.

Newspaper Articles
"Convention Ratifies Constitution." Pennsylvania Packet and Daily 
     Advertiser 14 December, 1787, p. 1.,col 3.

Bernstein, Carl . " Watergate Break-in Linked to President. " 
    Washington Post 23 May, 1974, p. 1, col 6.