Monday, May 4, 2009

Methodology Monday in Indiana Courthouses

Not all evidence analysis takes place after we've found it. In 1981 Indiana State Archivist John J. Newman gave a talk at the state historical society's spring family history symposium. The society still sells the text for $1 as a 16-page pamphlet. How many of today's PowerPoint lectures could be translated into this lasting format, or would hold up as well a generation after they were given?

Newman's unsparing indictment is that "genealogists usually fail to manage their research." His recommendation, from the pre-internet days, is to plan to spend "several hours in your home [county's] law library" in order to save "many more hours in the field." {1, 8}

If, as he suggests, you learn what's in the "order books, entry dockets, issue dockets, appearance dockets, general entry, claim and allowance docket, complete order books, civil pleadings, probate proceedings," and more, then you'll be in a position to ask the clerk "for a location of a record, not where information can be found." And that's a big difference.

Newman, John J. "Research in Indiana Courthouses: Judicial and Other Records." Indianapolis: Indiana State Historical Society [1981]. Includes material from a 1979 presentation on county records as well.

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