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A guide to library resources in North American and European history

Guide to Citing Primary Sources

Citing Manuscripts

Cite sources correctly and thoroughly in order to credit the original records creators and to lead other scholars to the materials. Proper citation should lead your readers directly and unambiguously to the sources you have consulted.

The crucial points to cover in your citation should include the following:

  1. Author or creator's name
  2. Title of the work
  3. Date
  4. Publication information
  5. Collection name
  6. Box and folder
  7. Repository (archive that houses the material)

Remeber that your citation should include as much identifying information as possible. Start with the most specific detail--the item title or description--and end with the broadest piece of information--the name of the respository.

Here's an example of a citation of a speech from one of our collections:

Abbott, Edith, "Excerpts of Address at National Women's Trade Union League Nebraska," 1934.  Abbott, Edith and Grace. Papers, [Box 24, Folder 13], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library. 

Citing Images

1. Image scanned from a book reproduced in a paper: 

Fig. 1. Palermo Exhibiton. February 6-March 1 1968, archive of Galerie Konrad Fischer, Dusseldorf. From: Blinky Palermo: Abstraction of an Era. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. Figure 41.

 2. Image downloaded from ARTstor reproduced in a paper: 

Fig. 2. Frank Lloyd Wright, Frederick C. Robie House. 1906-1909, Architectural Model, 23.2 x 125.3 x 54.3 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, Architecture and Design Collection, New York, New York. Available from: ARTstor, (accessed September 18, 2012).

3. Image downloaded from museum website reproduced in a paper:

Fig. 3. Caravaggio, The Denial of Saint Peter. Early 15th century. Oil on canvas, 94 x 125.4 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. From: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (accessed September 20, 2012)

4. Image downloaded from Flickr Commons reproduced in a paper:

Fig. 4. Thomas Eakins, William Rudolf O'Donovan. 1981, Black and white photographic print, 6 x 8 cm. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Available from: Flickr Commons, (accessed September 19, 2012).

Subject Specialist

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Nancy Spiegel
Bibliographer for Art and Cinema
Bibliographer for History
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