Historians typically use numbered citation systems (with either footnotes or endnotes) rather than the parenthetical citation systems favored by many social scientists. That’s because we love our sources and use lots of them! For detailed instructions, consult The Chicago Manual of Style or the online guide to Chicago/Turabian Documentation provided by the University of Wisconsin Writing Center.
When to cite and when not to cite?
When your essay refers to an author’s original argument, or deploys specific evidence (a quotation, a statistic, an image, etc.) to make a point, you must use a citation. When your essay refers to widely accepted ideas and facts—that college students are often confused about how to cite sources, for instance—no citation is necessary.
When do I cite specific page numbers?
When you are quoting any unique word, phrase, sentence, or extract, you must always cite the page number(s). When you are referring to an author’s overall argument, it is permissible to cite the author’s work without specific page numbers. However, when you are referring to a particular part of an author’s work, such as a case study covered in a single chapter of a book, then you should cite that part. As a general rule, the more specific your use of the source, the more specific the citation should be.
Note: Book, journal, newspaper, and magazine titles are italicized or underlined. So are the titles of legal cases. Article and chapter titles use quotation marks, as do the titles of plays, television shows, and films.
a single-authored book
Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumer’s Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America (New York: Knopf, 2003).
an edited collection
Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell, and Sharon Thompson, eds., Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1983).
one part of an edited collection
John D’Emilio, “Capitalism and Gay Identity,” in Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality, eds. Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell, and Sharon Thompson (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1983), 100-113.
a journal article
Deborah J. Coon, “‘One Moment in the World’s Salvation’: Anarchism and the Radicalization of William James,” Journal of American History 83 (June 1996):70-99.
a magazine article
Kenneth B. Clark, “‘The Wonder Is There Have Been So Few Riots’,” New York Times Magazine, September 5, 1965, 10-11, 38, 45, 48.
a newspaper article
Daniel Goleman, “Mental Disorder Common, but Few Get Treatment, Study Finds,” New York Times, March 17, 1993, C13.
a thesis or dissertation
Catherine Kerr, “Race in the Making of American Liberalism, 1912-1965” (Ph.D. diss., Johns Hopkins University, 1995).
an Internet source
Jane Addams, “Why Women Should Vote,” 1915, http://douglassarchives.org/adda_a03.htm
an Internet website
Famous Trials of the 20th Century: HTTP://WWW.LAW.UMKC.EDU/faculty/projects/FTRIALS/FTRIALS.HTM
a video or film
Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer, “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin” (San Francisco: California Newsreel, 2002, video).
an interview or oral history
Professor Peggy Pascoe, interview by author, Eugene, Oregon, October 1, 2003.
a source from a microform collection
Russell Sage Foundation, Charity Organization Department, “Diagnosis and Treatment Record for Families,” 1918, The Russell Sage Foundation: Social Research and Social Action in America, 1907-1947 (Frederick, MD: UPA Academic Editions, an imprint of Congressional Information Service, Inc., 1988), fiche 101, record #CO-17.
an archival source
Memo on Sunshine Nursery, July 19, 1918, United States Children’s Bureau Papers, Box 60, Folder 7349.1, National Archives II.
a source quoted within another source
Hastings Hart, quoted in W.H. Slingerland, Child-Placing in Families: A Manual for Students and Social Workers (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1919), 118.