The Earliest One

One is sometimes tempted to think that the latest version of anything is the best and the one that should be used as a reference.

That’s not always the case.

A transcription of the stones in a cemetery may have been done sixty years ago when they were more legible than they are today and when more stones were viewable. The formatting of the earlier edition might not be quite as “slick” as one done more recently–but more information could be there. Transcriptions of actual records done 100 years ago may have been done before the writing faded or when more records were extant.

There’s always the possibility that the earlier transcription was not done with as much care as one more recently compiled or that the formatting with an old manual typewriter leaves some of the arrangement of the record open to interpretation. Older is not necessarily better just because it is older. Just like newer is not better because it is newer.

Evaluate each transcription on its own merits. But don’t ignore those “old transcriptions” because more recent ones have been done.

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