Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Record That Isn't There

Last night I saw upon the chair
The little record that wasn't there.
It wasn't there again today.
How wish it'd go away!
(With apologies to the late William Hughes Mearns)

A while back I heard a story I can't get out of my head. A friend visited a doctor, who did a small routine treatment. The doctor mentioned that this treatment would not appear on the computerized record, because if it did appear there, then the doctor would have to charge her for it.

Genealogists worry about record loss all the time. It had not occurred to me to worry about records that never were created in the first place. But that idea has haunted me ever since. How many genealogically relevant events have "vanished" because the official rules didn't match up with what the actual people in that time and place considered to be right or fitting?

Harold Henderson, "The Record That Isn't There," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 22 August 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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