Citing Unpublished Sources

Citing documents from archival sources requires elements that vary from a published work. Unpublished works may include:

  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Manuscript (MS) or typescript (TS)
  • Company business records
  • Photographs and artwork
  • Audio-visual materials (sound recordings, moving images)

The following elements may be required regardless of the citation style used and should be recorded during archival research:

  • Author (for example, the author of a letter)
  • Format (letter, diary, memo, etc.)
  • Collection/fonds* (where the item is found)
  • Box number where the item is found
  • File number or other identifying number if available
  • Date
  • Institution housing material (William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, McMaster University Library)

Examples using Turabian (Chicago) Style 

Mills Quick Reference, 1st floor Z 253.C53 2003

Citations: Note and Bibliography

The elements to include for note and bibliographic citations vary. For note citations, the main element is usually a specific item (letter, diary, memo, etc.) and is cited first. In a bibliography, the main element is usually the collection in which the specific item can be found, the author(s) of the items in the collection, or the depository for the collection. Specific items are not used in a bibliography unless only one item from a collection is cited (Turabian Manual, 2007). 

Letter: Footnote or Endnote Citation

Clara H. Abey to Johnson, 14 December 1912, box 1, file 1, Pauline Johnson fonds, William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, McMaster University Library (Given names may be omitted if the identities of sender and recipient are clear from the text).

Letters: Bibliography Citation

Clara H. Abey fonds. William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, McMaster University Library.

 

Examples using the MLA Style

Mills Quick Reference, 1st floor LB 2369 .T8 2007

Citations: Works Cited

The elements to include depend on the format of the item being cited.  Letters, diaries, manuscripts and typescripts are cited differently.  Please consult the MLA style guide for more detailed examples than those provided below. 

Diary

Molony, William O’Sullivan. Diary. 1913-1914. MS numbered album 22, World War, 1914-1918

collection. William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, McMaster University

Library.

 Manuscript

Laurence, Margaret. The Stone Angel. 1964. TS box 1, files 1-3, Margaret Laurence fonds.

William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, McMaster University Library.

 

For complete citation instructions, please consult the appropriate manual in the Quick Reference section of Mills Library or visit the Citation and Style Guides page.

*What is a fonds?  A fonds is a term used to refer to all of the archives of a common provenance or source.  For example, the ‘Margaret Laurence fonds’ is another way of saying ‘Margaret Laurence archives’.