Do You Just Need a Simple Lookup?

Sometimes all the genealogist really needs is a lookup. Sometimes they need more extended research. Which really depends upon the situation.

One lookup example stems from the newspaper article I located from 1892 in Quincy, Illinois. It references a court case regarding estate of my ancestor, Ulfert Behrens.

Years ago, when I was much younger, I located his estate file which included a copy of his will. I did not do land or court record work at that time. While I am always interested in land records, I don’t need them right now and the family relationships have been fairly well documented with other records. However, this court case intrigued me. But do I need to hire someone for extensive work to research this? Probably not. All I really need in this case is information from the file.

However, I do need someone with research experience–even though they are doing a “lookup.” Why?

  1. So they know how to search for this record. The newspaper doesn’t have any citation information.
  2. So they know how to extract. There might only be a few papers in this file or there could easily be hundreds. In some cases, many of the pages may be repetitive or contain entirely legal jargon. I might not want to go to the expense of getting a copy of the “entire file.”
  3. They need to have experience searching this type of record and know what various items in the file mean and interpret them correctly.

In this case, I probably don’t need a formal research report since one document is being researched. However, I do need to know what records were searched, how they were searched, and what the citation is for the records that were located.

A lookup might not be as simple as a lookup.


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