Casefile Clues

16 April 2014

Blanket Statements About Recorded Copies

Generally speaking, local record copies of deeds and other original records do not contain the actual signature of your ancestor.

They contain the clerk's handwritten copy of your ancestor's signature. Some clerks may have tried to "copy" the "mark" your ancestor made if he did not sign his name, but there was rarely any attempt by the clerk to "match" the style of the signature on the original record with the transcription that constitutes the record copy.

Of course when recorded copies were reproduced by some type of "image capture" instead of being transcribed by hand or typewriter, the "signature" is a "picture" of the signature.

This 1950 deed makes the point.

At some point before February of 1950 the Hancock County Recorder's Office stopped making manual copies of deeds and began using a photoduplication process as shown in this illustration.

When you conduct searches in record copies of documents do you indicate the process by which the record copy was made?

Would you give more credence to a handwritten transcription or an image copy such as this one?

Shouldn't your research notes indicate the type of record copy you were using?