Reminder: Get the Original

We’ve said it before, but it definitely is worth a repeat.

Whether you have a complete transcription, an abstract, a one sentence quote, or something somewhere in between, it always pays to get a copy of the record that was used.

Transcriptions, while they are supposed to be complete, can contain errors or the occasional omission. Abstracts are supposed to contain “all important details,” but things get overlooked and what may appear unimportant to someone else may be germane to your research problems. Sentences or phrases lifted from a document may have been taken out of context and may have been incorrectly interpreted by the user of the quote.

And always look a few pages before and after any original document in a record book for others that may have been recorded at the same time as the document of interest.

And…remember that record copies of deeds, wills, and other documents in a local courthouse are record copies of those documents. There’s always a slight chance something was copied incorrectly–especially when those record copies were created by hand or by typewriter.

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