18.6 Manuscript and other documentary sources
Conventions for citing physical manuscripts and archival material are less well established than those for published works, partly because it is often necessary to formulate citations in a way that addresses the qualities and subject matter of the particular material at hand. When establishing how best to order and describe manuscript sources ensure that each citation:
• is consistent with others of the same kind
• conforms with the basic bibliographical principles that control the ordering of elements for citing published matter (authors are cited before titles, and titles before dates)
• includes the repository where the manuscript is stored, and, if possible, a shelf mark, piece number, or other unique identifier that allows the manuscript to be located within that repository.
The different elements that constitute a manuscript citation will normally fall into one of two categories:
• details that describe the item (author, title and/or descriptor, and date)
• details that locate the item (name and location of repository, collection name and/or shelf mark, page or folio number(s)).
Treat author details as for book details (see
18.6.2 Titles and descriptors
When a manuscript has a distinct title it should be cited in roman, in single quotes. General descriptors appear in roman only, and usually take a lower-case initial:
exchequer accounts, Dec. 1798, Cheshire Record Office, E311.
Depending on the readership and function of the bibliography, descriptors are not always necessary; sometimes a shelf mark is enough for an informed reader to comprehend the general nature of what is being cited. For example, in a specialist historical text it may be sufficient to provide piece numbers for documents in the National Archives without naming the collection to which they belong:
PRO, FO 363
PRO, SP 16/173, fo. 48
Dates follow description details and are not enclosed in parentheses:
Bearsden Ladies’ Club minutes, 12 June 1949, Bearsden and Milngavie District Libraries, box 19/d.
18.6.4 Repository information
The level of information required to identify the place accurately will depend upon the stylistic conventions of the work in which the citation occurs, the anticipated readership of the publication, and the size and general accessibility of the repository being cited. Repositories of national collections and archives may not require a country or city as part of the address. Some repositories include enough information within their name to render further address details otiose. If one particular repository is to be cited many times, consider creating an abbreviation that can be used in its place, with a key at the top of the bibliography, or group like citations together as a subdivision within the list.
In English-language publications names of repositories are always roman with upper-case initials, regardless of the conventions applied in the language of the country of origin:
Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Florence, cod. II.II.289
18.6.5 Location details
Any peculiarities of foliation or cataloguing must be faithfully rendered: a unique source is permitted a unique reference, if that is how the archive stores and retrieves it. For archives in non-English-speaking countries, retain in the original language everything—however unfamiliar—except the name of the city. Multiple shelf-mark numbers or other numerical identifiers should not be elided:
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS fonds français 146
Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague, handschriften 34C18, 72D32/4
18.6.6 Grey literature
Grey literature is defined as ‘manifold document types produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats that are protected by intellectual property rights, of sufficient quality to be collected and preserved by library holdings or institutional repositories, but not controlled by commercial publishers i.e., where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body’.
Such non-published material includes reports by companies, ministries, or research teams, theses (see