Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. I am a graduate student in history, and many of my primary sources were printed in Massachusetts during the seventeenth century. During this time, Cambridge and Boston were part of many entities (Massachusetts Bay Colony, Dominion of New England, et cetera). How do I cite the city of publication for these documents? Clearly, I cannot use “Cambridge, MA” since the state did not exist yet! However, I need to distinguish between the two Cambridges, and I don’t want to be anachronistic. A similar problem exists for publications from English cities before the official advent of the “UK.”

A. It’s conventional to cite the place as it is printed on the title page of a work. If you want to clarify, add an explanation at the end of the citation. You can also write a general note in your introduction or a headnote to the notes section explaining this difficulty and your plan for addressing it.