Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Working with probate files is sometimes a good news, bad news proposition.

The good news is you've discovered this set of documents that may hold all
sorts of information you don't already know about your ancestor.

The bad news is you can't read the bloody images. This could be for a number of
reasons: damage to the actual document, fading ink, or (most often) the abysmal
handwriting of whoever wrote out the will and inventory.

Even if you can read the handwriting, chances are you've found a whole bunch of
your ancestors' probate files and it will take awhile to get them all transcribed. That's
the situation I was in recently. So I did the only logical thing: I cheated. I used Google
to find already transcribed wills and inventories, and I found quite a bit of help. I
used the name of the ancestor, his date of death and the town or county in which he
died for my search terms. I found transcriptions in the following online places:

-Family histories
-Town or county histories
-historical society collections
-court records

Most of these sources are free but make sure you cite them in your records or blogposts.
When I use them on my blog, I add a link to where I found the transcription on the web.
Remember to compare the transcription with the document image to be certain they are
for the same person. And check to see if what you are reading is a full transcription of
the document or only an abstract of just part of it.

I hope this helps. Happy hunting!

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