Citations are essential

If you use any records held in the Archives, you should ensure they are correctly cited in your notes, on any copies you make and in your final product. A citation is a reference to an original record that will enable anyone who wishes to verify your research. They can consult the same record and check it for factual information, interpretation and context.

How to cite a record

Correctly citing archival records is an indispensable research skill. Without citations, full understanding of the final publication, report, project or assignment is impossible. A citation to the relevant archival record should always be given when you:

  • quote from a record
  • use a record as an illustration or example
  • draw an inference or conclusion from evidence in a record.

Ask an archivist if you are in doubt about the form of citation you should use.

As you work, we suggest you cite every archival record you consult. This includes when you make notes from a particular item and when you obtain photocopies. Making a note of the correct citation on every copy you obtain is particularly important. In this way it should be straightforward to later make correct citations in your final research product.

Terms of use

Conditions of access to the Archives specify that due credit for information gained through the facility must be given to 'City of Sydney Archives'. If your research product will contain a large number of citations, and if you have also used records from sources other than the City, we suggest you include a reference to the City of Sydney Archives (and other sources) in a note at the front of your report, project, book etc, and advise your readers that citations beginning 'NSCA' refer to Council's Archives.

Citations to records contain three elements:

  • The code NSCA, which is a unique program identifier that tags the City's Archives distinctly from all other Archives and Libraries. This code has been assigned by the National Library of Australia.
  • An alphanumerical records series identifier. There are more than 1100 records series in the Archives so this identifier could be any number from 1 to 1100+. All have the prefix 'CRS' for Council Records Series.
  • An item identifier to indicate which of the items in the records series is referred to. An item identifier can be numerical or alphanumerical. Original file numbers or other codes are used as item identifiers wherever possible. An item identifier can indicate a single item or a range of items from within the series, as appropriate. It is also frequently useful to cite the title of the item, or even of a particular document within the record item, to clarify your source of information.

Some examples of citations are shown below

NSCA CRS 34: TC 1234/18 Lord Mayor's Relief Fund: Town Clerk to Chief Secretary, 22 July 1919

Citation Definition
NSCA City of Sydney Archives
CRS 34 Series 34 [Town Clerk's Correspondence Files 1914-1978]
TC 1234/18 Item number [in this case, a file of documents]
LM Relief Fund The title of the item [file]
Town Clerk … etc The specific document in the item [file]

NSCA CRS 57/83 Fitzroy Street from Crown to Bourke, showing reconstruction work in progress, October 1929.

Citation Definition
NSCA City of Sydney Archives
CRS 57 Series 57 [City Engineer's Photographs of Council Works, 1926-1942]
83 Item number, numerical sequence given by the Archives
Fitzroy St etc Descriptive title including date

Note: that in these two examples, both a colon (:) and slash (/) have been used as punctuation marks to separate the records series and item identifiers. Either is acceptable.

NSCA CRS 17/1/3 (Assessment no. 886) Bourke Ward Assessment Book, 1852 (microfilm copy)

Citation Definition
NSCA City of Sydney Archives
CRS 17 Series 17 [Assessment Books, 1845-1949]
1 Sequence 1 [Bourke Ward assessments]
3 Item 3 [third assessment book for Bourke Ward]
Assessment no. 886 The precise entry in the Assessment Book
Bourke Ward 1852 Description of the item consulted
(microfilm copy) Note that a copy rather than the original was consulted

The records series and item identifiers for each record you consult, can be determined from the finding-aids at the Archives. They often are also marked on the archival records.

A partial exception to these rules applies when you make use of information from the Archives, which is from the Sydney Reference Collection or which is in published form. The examples shown below illustrate how such citations should be written.

NSCA: PC 1908, p203. Report by the Inspector of Nuisances for April 1908.

This is a citation to the Proceedings of Council for 1908, citing a page number. The Proceedings are published annual volumes and do not require a full citation style.

'$12m Capitol Grant' Sydney Morning Herald (12 October 1993) in NSCA information folder Capitol Theatre.

This citation is for a newspaper clipping found in the system of ready-reference information folders kept in the Archives as part of the Sydney Reference Collection.

Last updated: Tuesday, 23 December 2014