Primary Sources Bibliography Format

MLA

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Entire Web Site

The Web site of the Library of Congress connects users to content areas created by the Library’s many experts. In some cases, content can be posted without a clear indication of author, title, publisher or copyright date. Look for available clues and give as much information as possible, including the URL and date accessed.

MLA Citation Format
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., section 5.6.1)

Structure

  1. Name of the author, compiler, director, editor, narrator, performer, or translator of the work
  2. Title of the work (italicized if the work is independent; in roman type and quotation marks if the work is part of a larger work)
  3. Title of the overall Web site (italicized), if distinct from item 2
  4. Version or edition used
  5. Publisher or sponsor of the site; if not available use N.p.
  6. Date of publication
  7. Medium of publication (Web)
  8. Date of access
  9. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last name, First name. “Section of Website.” Title of the Web site. Version/Edition. Name of publisher or sponsor. Date of publication. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Lib. of Cong. U.S. Govt. Web. 10 February 2012. <http://www.loc.gov/>.

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Articles and Essays

Special presentations, articles, and essays include examples that illustrate collection themes. Many collections include specific items, such as timelines, family trees or scholarly essays, which are not primary source documents. Such content has been created to enhance understanding of the collection.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., section 5.6.2b)

Structure

  1. Author last name, author first name
  2. Title (italicized if independent; in roman type and quotation marks if the work is part of a larger work)
  3. Title of the overall Web site (italicized)
  4. Version or edition
  5. Publisher; if not available, use N.p.
  6. Date of publication (day, month, year); if nothing is available, use n.d.
  7. Medium (Web)
  8. Date of access
  9. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last name, First name. Title. Title of the Web site. Version or edition. Publisher or N.p. Day Month Year of publication or n.d. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Brief History of the National Parks. Lib. of Cong. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/collection/national-parks-maps/special-presentation/>.

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Cartoons and Illustrations

Cartoons and illustrations included in newspapers, magazines or other periodicals often represent the historical perspectives and opinions of the time of publication. This illustration, Join or Die from the May 9, 1754, Pennsylvania Gazette, was published by Benjamin Franklin and expresses his views about the need for the colonies to join forces to confront their mutual concerns with England.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., section 5.7.9 and 5.6.2c)

Structure

  1. Artist last name, artist first name
  2. Title of work (in quotation marks)
  3. Format (cartoon or illustration)
  4. Publication information
    • a. Newspapers: Name of Print Publication [Location if not in the name of the publication] date: page numbers
    • b. Journals: Volume number (date of publication): page numbers.
    • c. Books: City: Name of Publisher, date of publication: page numbers if being referenced
  5. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  6. Medium (Web)
  7. Date of access
  8. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last Name, First Name. “Title.” Illustration. Newspaper title [Location] Day Month Year of publication: page number. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Franklin, Benjamin. "Join or Die." Illustration. The Pennsylvania Gazette 9 May 1754. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002695523/>.

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Films

Films and other moving images offer visual tools for studying not only the technology of a time, but the prevailing social attitudes, as well.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., sections 5.7.3 and 5.6.2d)

Structure

  1. Film Title (italicized)
  2. Director Name or relevant creator name, e.g., Dir. John Doe
  3. Distributor, year of release
  4. Title of database or Web site (italicized)
  5. Medium of publication (Web)
  6. Date of access
  7. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Film Title. Dir. First name Last Name. Distributor, year of release. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Bargain Day, 14th Street, New York. Photog. Frederick S. Armitage. American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1905. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/item/00694373>.

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Government Publications

Many government publications originate through executive departments, federal agencies, and the United States Congress. Many of the documents are chronicled records of government proceedings, which become part of the Congressional Record. These documents are often posted without a clear indication of author, title, publisher or copyright date. Look for available clues and give as much information as possible, including date accessed.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., sections 5.5.20 and 5.6.2c)

Structure

  1. Name of government
  2. Name of agency
  3. Title of the publication (italicized)
  4. If the title is a serial publication, follow title with date, e.g., 27 Jan. 2016: page numbers.
  5. Place of publication: publisher, year published.
  6. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  7. Medium of publication (Web)
  8. Date of access
  9. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Government. Agency name. Title of Publication. Day Month Year of publication: page numbers. Place of publication: Publisher, Year published. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

United States House of Representatives. “Proceedings. 2nd Congress, 2nd sess.” Annals of Congress. 747-48. Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1849. Lib. of Cong. Web. 10 Feb. 2012. <http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ ampage?collId=llac&fileName=llac003.db&recNum=370>.

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Manuscripts

The Library of Congress online collections include letters, diaries, recollections, and other written material. One example is this letter from Helen Keller to Mr. John Hitz. Helen describes her trip to Chicago to visit the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., sections 5.7.12 and 5.6.2d).

Structure

  1. Author last name, author first name
  2. Title (italicized, or quotation marks for a minor work)
  3. Date of composition
  4. Form of the material – MS for manuscript, TS for typescript
  5. Name of library, institution, or collection which houses the work, followed by the location
  6. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  7. Medium (if from the Web)
  8. Date of access
  9. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last name, First name. “Title.” Date. Form of the material. Institution, city. Title of the Web site. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Keller, Helen. “Letter to John Hitz 29 Aug. 1893.” 1893. TS. Lib. of Cong., Washington, D.C. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/item/magbellbib004020>.

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Maps and Charts

Maps are far more than just maps of cities and towns. They document historical places, events, and populations, as well as growth and changes over time. This map is from the Library of Congress online collections.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., sections 5.7.8 and 5.6.2c)

Structure

  1. Title (italicized; in roman type and quotation marks if the work is part of a larger work)
  2. Format (map or chart)
  3. If part of a larger work, include that title (italicized) after the format
  4. Location: publisher, date
  5. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  6. Medium (Web)
  7. Date of access
  8. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Title. Map. Location: publisher, date. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Map of the West Coast of Africa from Sierra Leone to Cape Palmas, including the Colony of Liberia. Map. Philadelphia: Finley, 1830. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/item/96680499>.

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Newspapers

Historic newspapers provide a glimpse of historic time periods. The articles, as well as the advertising, are an appealing way to get a look at the regions of the country or the world and the issues of the day.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., section 5.4.5 and 5.6.2c)

Structure

  1. Author last name, author first name (if applicable)
  2. Title of article (in quotation marks)
  3. Name of newspaper (italicized), city of publication if needed (square brackets, not italicized) and date published (with no punctuation in between)
  4. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  5. Medium (Web)
  6. Date of access
  7. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last name, First name. “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper [city] Day Month Year published. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

“Free Education While You Wait For Orders Home.” The Stars and Stripes 6 Dec. 1918. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/item/sn88075768/1918-12-06/ed-1>.

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Oral History Interviews

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., section 5.7.7 and 5.6.2b)

Structure:

  1. Interviewee last name, first name
  2. Title of the interview (if any) In quotations if it is part of a publication, in italics if published independently. Use Interview without quotes or italics if there is no title
  3. Name of interviewer if known
  4. Date of interview
  5. Title of the database or Website (italicized)
  6. Medium (Web)
  7. Date of access
  8. URL (in angle brackets) - optional

Last name, First name. “Title of Interview.” By Name of Interviewer.Day Month Year of Interview. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. ,opt. URL.

Example:

Patton, Gwendolen M. “Gwendolyn M. Patton oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Montgomery, Alabama, 2011-06-01.” Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/item/afc2010039_crhp0020/>.

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Photographs

Photographs and drawings appear in many of the Library of Congress digitized historical collections. This photograph from the Library's online collections shows casualties of war on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., sections 5.7.6 and 5.6.2d)

Structure

  1. Artist last name, artist first name
  2. Title (italicized)
  3. Date of composition
  4. Format (photograph)
  5. Institution that houses the work, city where the piece is located
  6. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  7. Medium (Web)
  8. Date of access
  9. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last name, First name. Title. Date of composition. Photograph. Institution, City. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

O'Sullivan, Timothy H. Incidents of the War. A Harvest of Death. c1865. Photograph. Lib. of Cong., Washington D.C. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/cwp2003001110/PP/>.

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Sound Recordings

This recording of Mrs. Ben Scott and Myrtle B. Wilkinson performing Haste to the Wedding is an example of Anglo-American dance music on the fiddle and tenor banjo recorded on October 31, 1939.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., sections 5.7.2 and 5.6.2d)

Structure

  1. Creator last name, creator first name
  2. Title (italicized)
  3. Any additional performers are listed here – first name followed by last name
  4. When citing a performance, list the date of the performance here, with the abbreviation “rec.” preceding the date
  5. Manufacturer and year published/issued
  6. Indicate the original audio format (CD, audiocassette, etc.)
  7. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  8. Medium (Web)
  9. Date of access
  10. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last name, First name. Song title. Perf. First name Last name. Rec. Day Month Year. Manufacturer, Year. Original format. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Scott, Mrs. Ben, and Myrtle B. Wilkinson. Haste to the Wedding. Rec. 31 October 1939 by Sydney Robertson Cowell. 78 rpm. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/item/afccc.a4227b4>.

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General Guidelines | Examples

General Guidelines

By carefully documenting your sources, you acknowledge intellectual debts and provide readers with information about the materials you consulted during your research. Methods for citing primary sources (e.g., archival and manuscript collections) differ from those for published works. The discipline in which you are writing and class requirements will determine the citation system you should use.

Typical elements of a citation include: document title, document date, location information, collection title, collection number, and repository name.  For primary sources published online, a citation would include: the author, document title or a description, document date, title of the website, reference URL, and date accessed. Elements of a citation are usually listed from the most specific to the most general.  For examples of online primary source citations, please consult our Primary Sources on the Web citation page.

The following citation guidelines for primary sources are based on those in the Chicago Manual of Style, which you should consult for more detailed information.[1] Chicago distinguishes between citation systems for notes and bibliographies. In a footnote or endnote, the main element of a primary source citation is usually a specific item, which is cited first. If the specific item lacks a formal title, you may create one (e.g., photograph, interview, or minutes). Descriptive titles of this kind are not usually enclosed in quotation marks or italicized.

Include information about the specific location of an item in a collection by designating box and folder numbers. For example:

39. J.H. Campbell to James Groppi, Oct. 11, 1969, box 11, folder 1, James Groppi Papers, Milwaukee Mss EX, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Subsequent citations of the same item, or items from the same collection, may be shortened for the reader’s convenience. The writer announces the use of short forms in a parenthetical statement at the end of the first citation, as follows:

39. J.H. Campbell to James Groppi, Oct. 11, 1969, box 11, folder 1, James Groppi Papers, Milwaukee Mss EX, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department (hereafter cited as Groppi Papers).

40. Sermon, Aug. 10, 1969, box 15, folder 8, Groppi Papers.

In a bibliography, the main element is usually the title of the collection in which the specific item may be found, the author(s) of the items in the collection, or the repository of the collection. Specific items are not usually mentioned in a bibliography. We recommend using the collection title as the main element of the citation. If the collection title includes a personal name, we recommend placing the last name first for the reader’s convenience. For example:

Groppi, James, Papers. Milwaukee Mss EX. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Archives Department staff will gladly provide further guidance on citing primary sources in your research papers.

Examples of Citations for Items from the Archives Department of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries

Note Forms

41. Diary, 1899, box 3, vol. 4, John Johnston Family Papers, Milwaukee Mss BL, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

42. Scrapbook, 1928-1935, box 31, Milwaukee Public Schools, Department of Municipal Recreation and Community Education Scrapbooks, UWM Mss 151, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

43. Minutes, Jan. 9, 1956, box 2, folder 1, Jewish Family and Children’s Service Records, Milwaukee Mss 87, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

44. Photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Simon Kander, undated, box 2, folder 1, Lizzie Black Kander Papers, Milwaukee Mss DN, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

45. Norman Adelman, interview by Michael A. Gordon, May 14, 2008, Oral History Interviews of the March on Milwaukee Oral History Project, UWM Mss Collection 281, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.[2]

46. Boycott of MacDowell School construction site, Dec. 8, 1965, Daily footage newsfilm, Milwaukee Journal Stations Records, Milwaukee Mss Collection 203, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

47. WTMJ-TV, news film clip of Martin Luther King speaking at UW-Milwaukee (2 of 2), Nov. 23, 1965, March On Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project, accessed June 8, 2010, http://collections.lib.uwm.edu/u?/march,941.

Bibliographic Entries

Jewish Family and Children’s Service Records. Milwaukee Mss 87. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Johnston, John, Family Papers. Milwaukee Mss BL. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Kander, Lizzie Black, Papers. Milwaukee Mss DN. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Milwaukee Journal Stations Records. Milwaukee Mss Collection 203. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Milwaukee Public Schools, Department of Municipal Recreation and Community Education Scrapbooks. UWM Mss 151. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

Oral History Interviews of the March on Milwaukee Oral History Project. UWM Mss Collection 281. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department.

March On Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries. http://www4.uwm.edu/libraries/digilib/march/ index.cfm.


Footnotes

1. Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 710-715. Examples also available here with campus subscription to the Chicago Manual of Style Online.

2. Note that Chicago provides specific guidelines for citing interviews and personal communications (705-707). Examples are available for both unpublished interviews and personal communications with campus subscription to the Chicago Manual of Style Online.

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