How Are the Names Organized?

When using a record series, do you think about how the originals were recorded and organized? It’s usually worth a thought:

  • Vital records are usually recorded by file date, not necessarily the date of the event.
  • Land records are organized by date the document was brought for recording, not the date the document was executed.
  • Baptism records are organized by date of baptism, not birth date.
  • Census records are organized geographically–with the amount of precision varying over time and from one place to another. Names may be organized in order of visit or roughly alphabetized.
  • Loose probate papers are organized by probate case and those case files are generally organized by a case number–which may have been assigned based upon when the probate process was begun.
  • And there are always exceptions and locations that seemingly invent their own system. Be flexible.