A Piece of Paper from my Cousin…

Years ago, early in my research I was having difficulty interpreting a phrase in an old document and was corresponding via regular mail with a distant relative about it.

They told me what the phrase meant and included a phototopy of a page from a typewritten list of legal phrases and their meanings as their “source.” There was no indication of the book from which the page was taken. There was no page number to suggest it had even been copied from a book, and frankly the page looked like it had been typed on a early 20th century typewriter and what I had was an umpteenth generation photocopy of that page.

The explanation of the phrase didn’t make complete sense to me and I asked my correspondent where they got it. Another relative had sent it to her, just like she had sent it to me.

I decided I needed a better reference.

Reference materials written by individuals with significant experience in the field and edited by others with just as much experience abound in genealogy. Don’t rely on unsourced sets of definition whose authorship is unknown or questionable.

You’d want to know the source of great-great-grandpa’s will. Find out the source of those definitions you are using to interpret what it says as well.


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