Citing a Dog Tag

The 3rd edition of Evidence Explained has made it to my desk. At 892 pages, it is quite a tome and may appear to include a sample citation for every possible source under the genealogical sun.  It doesn’t–but there are certainly enough examples for the user to find something close enough from which a citation can be structured.

Evidence Explained doesn’t even claim to include citations for everything.  And that’s not even the point.

Mills begins her chapter on the “Fundamentals of Citation” by making the following statement on page 41:

“Citation is an art, not a science.”

And it most certainly is. Like most arts, one learns the general rules and the general structure and then one uses that knowledge of the structure to craft citations when there is no specific rule for the specific item in question. Evidence Explained is liberally filled with examples of citations from a variety of original records (and family ephemera) in a variety of formats (original, microfilm, digital, personal research photocopies, etc.). But still there are times when one encounters items for which there is no exact guide in Evidence Explained to follow.

Such is the case with the tag Riley is wearing in the picture. Some may laugh at creating a citation for a dog tag, but such an item may easily be the only source for a residence or an address.  And it’s very possible that a researcher may encounter other such items in their research. And….just thinking about how to create such a citation can get one to thinking about citations in general which is never a bad thing.

Riley wasn’t much help in creating the citation for his dog tag, but here’s my first go at it:

Riley dog tag, currently worn by Neill family dog Riley; privately held by Michael Neill, [address for private use], Rio, Illinois, 2015. Engraved with the name “Riley” and phone number [private use only], the green tag is roughly shaped like a dog bone. and is currently worn by the Neill family pet Riley.

We don’t have a canine family tree for Riley. He was adopted from the animal shelter <grin>.

Note: After contemplation–and comments by a reader–we’ve decided to strike the second reference to the fact that the tag is still worn by the dog.


7 thoughts on “Citing a Dog Tag

    • Always expect the unexpected 😉 Actually military tags would be an excellent source of information in some cases, but the canine version of dog tags are the only ones that I have.

      • Mary Hammond says:

        On Memorial Day, learning on FB that a friend had just opened a drawer and found her dad’s Navy dog tag from WWII, and that she knew little about him (he’d died when she was 18), I volunteered to see what I could find. Thus began two weeks of diversion for me, and now my friend and her brother know their dad’s actual birth date and place, as well as the ship’s he served on, and I have provided them with decades’ newspaper articles about their father’s nationwide advocacy for social justice. my friend is ecstatic. A military “dog tag” is what started the ball rolling!

  1. Meredith M. says:

    I also came here expecting you’d referenced a military dog tag! 🙂 And that brings me to a comment I’d planned to make on your “Short-term Subscriptions” post. I currently have a long-term subscription to Ancestry that my grandmother bought and I’m using every free resource I can come up with to complement what I find there. My goal is to determine as many military family members as I can and then get a short-term subscription to Fold3. That way I can make efficient use of my time there since I’ll know who to look for and in which conflict/time period.

    • 😉
      Another suggestion with some of the sites where a person can subscribe monthly is to have an account and pay for it as you need it. I’ve got one that I used for a month, let it lapse for a while and then re-up when I will have time to use or have enough material to make it worth my while. Having a “continuous” subscription sometimes tends to make people less organized than they might be other wise, which of course necessitates the continuation of their subscription…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.