What Page Number Are You Using?

Some records, particularly United States census records in the earlier part of the 18th century, have more than one set of page numbers. When creating citations, clearly indicate which set of page numbers you are using, for example:

  • stamped page number upper right
  • printed page number lower left

Because the page numbers can confuse some researchers, it is always advised to include additional citation information to assist in locating the record. For US census records, this would be the geographic information (state, county, township/village/enumeration district, etc.) and the household/dwelling number. The geographic information is necessary information anyway (since it tells you where the person was living), but it could also help someone else to locate the record again if the page number is “off” or confusing.

Some church records, particularly those kept in ledgers that were originally blank, have no page numbers. In these instances, other details are necessary to create the citation:

  • name of village/church
  • type of entry (baptism, marriage, funeral, etc.) as some records are sorted by the type of act
  • year of entry as some entries are sorted by year
  • anything else that helped you “get to it”

Digital image numbers and the like are helpful–to a point. They work as long as the other person has the same database access and the website hasn’t “reorganized” their materials. Some microfilm has image numbers as well. Always indicate where the number appears to come from–don’t just randomly include it. Random numbers without context are not helpful.

You can learn more about citation in:

You can learn more analysis and methodology in Casefile Clues.



2 thoughts on “What Page Number Are You Using?

  1. Frederick W Hinke

    I certainly agree with your recommendation about page numbers. In addition, for US Census citations 1850 and later I always include the line/row numbers from the census record I am citing as well as the geographic information (state, county, township, etc.). I use line numbers instead of household or family numbers because beginning in 1850, they were reprinted on the forms and are almost always very legible.

    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      I usually put the name of the head of the household and the dwelling/family number, but you are right that the printed line numbers are sometimes more legible and more than just the page is a good idea.


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