Duplicate originals

Understanding Courthouse Records: Originals vs. Duplicate Originals

Many of the records maintained in America’s courthouses—records that historians and some other fields generically call “primary” sources—are duplicate originals or record copies rather than true originals. Does it matter? For the next several postings, we’ll consider the processes that created these legal records, the reasons why differences matter, and characteristics by which we can recognize the type of record we are using.

"Duplicate Originals" of the Federal Censuses

29 June 2014 It's a frustration we all know much too well in our census research. Whether we use an online provider of digital images or consult the old-timey microfilm, we find the needed county and state, search for our person of interest, and find nobody by that name. In fact, we find nobody with names—at least not given names. Page after page, there's nothing but initials—not just for heads of households, not just for grown males who may have preferred to be called I.J. rather than Ichabod Jehosophat, but for wives and children to boot. What's the problem? What's the fix? ...

Source Analysis 101

30 January 2014 When analyzing sources, the first question we ask ourselves should be: “Is this an original or a derivative?” However, this basic question is just a starting point for our evaluation of reliability. Some material falls clearly into one extreme or the other, but many resources fall somewhere on a sliding scale between those extremes.