Documentary Perspective

I located a guardianship petition in Illinois in 1908. It mentions the two minor children, the guardian, and the guardian’s sureties. The documents indicated the ages of the children, but I got to wondering about the ages of the others on the document.

The actual guardian being appointed was in his early twenties. His mother was living but his father (the original guardian) had passed away a few months earlier. The sureties on the guardian’s bond were his uncles, men in their fifties. One uncle is known to have had twelve children and probably had enough obligations as it was.

If you have a document that involves several family members who were living at the time, have you thought about what stages they were at in their lives at the time the document was being created? What events precipitated the creation of the document or the event it recorded? In this case, it was the death of the new guardian’s father as he had been the children’s original guardian.

Thinking about what caused the record and what was going on in the lives of the individuals at the time may give you some insight.