21 November 2012

Ult. Verus Inst.---At Least I Think

Organizing what I've gotten on Rufus D. Stephens reminded me of the difference between "ult" and "inst." At least I thought I knew what the difference was between the two abbreviations that one encounters in items from the 19th century and beyond.

These two clippings located on Genealogybank.com discuss a manslaughter case in which Rufus was involved. I'm trying to "fix" the date of the event and that's where I noticed a problem. Both papers were printed in February and one refers to the event as the "2d ult." and another refers to it as the "2d inst."

6 February 1805--refers to the date as "2d ult."

Date: Wednesday, February 6, 1805  

Paper: Democrat (Boston, MA) 

obtained on 


14 February 1805-refers to the date as "2d inst."

Date: Thursday, February 14, 1805  

Paper: Northern Post (Salem, NY)-

obtained on 

One of these has to be incorrect. The question is, "which one?"

ult. stands for the Latin "ultimo" meaning the preceding month.
inst. stands for "instant" meaning the current month.

We're working on a longer post explaining what I think happened.

[link to update]
Reminder--we don't include complete citations on blog posts--just our personal preference. Complete citations are always included in Casefile Clues or you can learn about citations in Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained. We always do include enough background information in blog posts that readers can find our original sources.If you think we don't, please fire off an email to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com


Anonymous said...

I also saw your 12 Nov 2012 follow-up blog on this subject, but there was no comment option, so I'm doing it here.

As you pointed out, newspapers liberally borrowed stories from other papers, sometimes printing them immediately, sometimes using them as filler in future editions. The typesetter sometimes copied the articles verbatim without anyone editing them to reflect the fact that some time may have passed since they were originally published.

If a newspaper item causes date confusion, I would search for multiple instances of the item in other papers and give the earliest published account the most weight.

Keep on detecting!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know that the link to the Nov 2012 blog post isn't working now - it says the post does not exist.
I hope that you worked out what was going on with the dates!

Deb Stock