The next issue of Casefile Clues is being wrapped up as this post goes live. In this issue, we’ll look at the transcription of a marriage record that was in a Civil War pension file. Is it original or derivative? Is the information primary or secondary?
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Probably one of the best genealogical records to use are affidavits, depositions, and other similar “official” statements made in pension claims, court cases, etc.
While these statements are usually focused on the issues involved in the court case or the pension application, they can contain seemingly extraneous details that are genealogically significant. As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, additional about the individuals involved may not be mentioned if they are not considered germane to the issue at hand.
But sometimes they are.
These “off the cuff” items mentioned in affidavits, depositions and the like are one reason that researching the entire family and social network is so important. An 1860 statement in a pension file may indicate that the affiant remembers the date because it was the year his cousin (whom he names) broke his leg. Depending up on what you know (or don’t), that reference could be significant.
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Issue 4-12 has been mailed. If you are a subscriber and you do not have it, please let me know.
We’re wrapping the final edit of the next issue.
It looks at a statement made in 1881 by the sixty-two year old daughter of a War of 1812 widow who was supposedly ninety-two years old.
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An important part of document analysis is determining the original purpose of the document and how that impacts:
- information accuracy
- preservation of the document
- provenance of the document
Virtually every document a genealogist uses was created for a non-genealogical purpose.
Never hurts to remember that.
One thing I try and discuss in every article is the goals of the specific research that lead to the record being discussed.
Regular readers know that many issues of Casefile Clues focuses on analyzing one specific document. We usually analyze that document in isolation–not because research is in isolation, but because it often helps us to focus on as many details in that one document as possible without bringing in “other information” that may cloud what the documet says.
Of course, later we need to put together all the documents we’ve found and see what general conclusions are supported from those documents.
Our analysis of individual documents is usually completed with a discussion of what the research goals are, why/how this document was located, and what the most reasonable next steps are moving forward.
But the goals do matter and while we encourage exhaustive research and “locating everything,” we try and balance that with practicality, access to records, and cost of obtaining records.