Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. I am using documents from a Civil War Military Service Record, Pension file, and Bounty Land Warrant in several reports. I was able to obtain photocopies of these records from the National Archive. How do I footnote these primary sources and how should the bibliography information for them be given? Do I use the Public Documents format or the Unpublished Material format? For example, I was able to discover my subject’s first and second wives were fighting over his pension from a Department of Interior, Bureau of Pensions, record card and several affidavits. Would I give the year I obtained the records, as with an electronic source, since the date some of these records were created is unknown? Thank you.

A. Your sources could be styled either way. When CMOS doesn’t cover a particular type of citation, our hope is that writers will be able to extrapolate from the examples of similar sources and create a reasonable format. Try to style similar citations in the same way. Don’t worry about finding some “correct” way to style such sources. Following the sequence of more conventional citations (author first, then title, and so on) will help readers find what they’re looking for. The important thing is to be clear and include the information that your readers will need to understand the citation and locate the source, if it still exists. If you think extra information would be helpful, by all means add it. Annotate in sentence style if you can’t think of any other place to put leftover information.