Casefile Clues

01 July 2013

Why You Should Read the Backs of Those Reports

This report filed 17 December 1877 in the guardianship case of the children of Lucinda Barcus in Champaign County, Illinois, contained several reports and accounts. Routine stuff for the most part.

Sometimes it is tempting to quickly scan over the procedure parts of these documents-with the dates and recording information--in order to get to the good stuff.

That's a mistake.

The top of the document shown above contained a clue about the name of the one child.

The reference to "Laura (or Ellen) Barcus" confirmed that the two names were referring to the same person. Researchers are not always fortunate to find contemporary evidence of "multiple" names and often have to rely on an analysis of the evidence to show that two people with different names are the same person.

This was not a difficult find. But it did require the researcher to read everything, even that boring legalese on the back of the record.