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HIST 426J/GLBL 398: Yale and the World: Global Power, Local History: Citing Your Sources

Chicago Manual of Style

Documenting the sources you use in your research paper is a key part of the research and writing process. Complete and accurate citations to the books, journal articles, primary sources, and other items you use will allow readers to verify your sources and explore them further if they'd like to learn more about the issues you've raised.

In the field of history, the standard citation style is the Chicago Style, and you will want to consult it to find the proper format for citing sources in your footnotes as well as at the end of your paper in your bibliography. Here are the main links for referring to the Chicago Manual of Style:

In addition, the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) offers a helpful overview of the Chicago Manual of Style (currently in its 17th edition).

Citation Management Tools

You may already have a software program or a system for keeping track of your sources, but, if not, you will want to think about what way of organizing your research will work best for you this coming year. The Yale University Library has licenses to certain citation management tools, and there are also free tools on the web for managing your citations. Probably the two most useful tools to consider are:

  • Zotero
    • This is a free web tool used by many historians.
  • RefWorks 
    • This is a resource licensed by the Yale Library; you will need to use your Yale e-mail address to create an account.

For more information and an overview of several of the resources that are available, see our citation management guide (but keep in mind the link there goes to an earlier version of Refworks that is no longer supported, so you will want to use the link above to the newer version of RefWorks if you have not previously created a RefWorks account).

Citing Sources from Archival Collections

Citation of documents in archival collections can be trickier than citations for publications, because you have to provide enough information about the document and the archival collection in which you found it and the repository where that collection can be found to allow someone reading your analysis to find that document if they wanted to. The following are some guidelines to assist you in citing your document:

For the document:

  • Author(s) of the document.
  • A title that identifies the document.
    • This might be on the document itself, such as a report or an essay.
    • If there is nothing resembling a title on the document, you will have to devise a title that is descriptive and meaningful (e.g., Letter to Alice Jones, Notes on a meeting to discuss the partition of Eastern Europe).
    • A date the document was created. This might be an actual day, a month, or a year, and you may have to supply an approximate date based on context if there is no actual date on the document itself.
  • Box and folder (or other container information) where you found the document.

For each archival collection being used: 

  • Title of the collection.
  • Collection number or other identifier unique within the repository that identifies the collection. This information is frequently included in citations in parentheses following the collection title.

For the repository holding the archive you are using:

  • Name of the repository.
  • Name of the parent institution or geographic location of the repository if necessary to disambiguate the repository’s name from potentially similar institutional names.

Since your assignment is a document analysis and not a full-fledged research paper, you might just cite the document you analyzed at the beginning or end of your analysis. If this were a lengthier research paper, you would cite individual documents (with a shorthand reference to the collection) in footnotes and the collection in your bibliography. 

Yale Archives Citation Examples:

  • Claude A. Barnett, letter to Grace Nail Johnson, 27 June 1942, Box 25, Folder 14, James Weldon Johnson and Grace Nail Johnson Papers (JWJ MSS 49), Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
  • Louise Bryant, Russian Revolution notebook, 1917, Box 15, Folder 98, Louise Bryant Papers (MS 1840), Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.