Organize those Loose Papers

Files of loose court papers are frequently out of order. If you are having difficulty understanding the case being tried, organize the papers chronologically. After that, extract every date listed in the papers and create a chronology. That may help you to understand what lead up to the case and how it played out. Organization of the papers may also suggest there are some holes in your understanding. Either way, you have made progress in your understanding of the case. For court records it also can be helpful to begin your work by looking at the initial filing of plaintiff and defendant in addition to the conclusions that were reached. All of those items (if available) will help provide a broad overview.

This is also a good idea for any case file of loose papers, including Civil War pension records. Those are also much easier to understand when put in order, especially if the pension was denied and repeated appeals were filed. It also helps with those items to pay attention to the specific pension act under which the application was made.