Superscripts are in the Air

Record clerks can use a variety of abbreviations, annotations, and customized shorthand when creating and maintaining records. Some of these markings are common and othesuperscriptsrs are not. The conscientious genealogist will try and ascertain the meaning of these items as sometimes they hold significant genealogical information.

The index entries for John Lake’s estate in the Civil War era probate register for Chariton County, Missouri contains such an annotation. There was a little superscript 3 after the indication that John’s name was on page 238.

For a brief fleeting moment, I thought that the superscript ┬ámeant that there was a reference to John’s estate on page 288 as well. There wasn’t because that is not what the 3 meant.

It meant that there were three references to John’s estate on page 238. Certainlake-probately enough, there were.


The thorough genealogist would read every page of the record even without the “3” as a clue.

And the genealogist who didn’t know what the “3” meant, should after having seen three entries to John’s estate on the page in question.

Sometimes extra marks are just stray marks. And sometimes they have meaning. It’s up to the genealogist to discern that meaning.


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