APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2006-04 > 1144009495
From: "Paul K. Graham" <>
Subject: RE: [APG] Clerk's copy -- original vs. derivative
Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2006 16:24:55 -0400
In terms of legal documents, the one that was legally executed by the
parties is the "original." All subsequent copies of the legally executed
document are derivatives. That means, if you do not see the actual
signature, signed by the parties, you have a derivative.
One of my ancestors is Samuel Weathers Sr. of Lincoln County, Georgia. If
you read his will in the will book, you find that one of the sons-in-law of
Samuel Weathers Sr. is Samuel Watingson. That will book has been abstracted
along the way and many genealogies mention Samuel Watingson, son-in-law of
Samuel Weathers Sr.
Last year I went to the Lincoln County courthouse. I asked the Probate Court
clerk if I could look at the "original" estate files for Samuel Weathers Sr.
She pulled the estate packet out of a filing cabinet and let me go through
it at her desk. In it, I found the *original* will of Samuel Weathers Sr.,
written by someone other than himself, but signed with his mark. As far as
we know he was illiterate. Upon close inspection of the will, it is clear
that the mark was made by an old person who was not the person writing the
The *original* will of Samuel Weathers Sr. DOES NOT name a son-in-law Samuel
Watingson. It names a son-in-law "Samuel Weathers, Big" but is written
somewhat poorly. The clerk that transcribed the *original* will into the
official will book wrote the name down incorrectly. So, in Lincoln County,
you can get a court-certified copy of the recorded will of Samuel Weathers
Sr. that names his son-in-law Samuel Watingson. We cannot rely on
court-certified copies of any pre-photostat document for 100% proof of
anything, considering that court clerks make transcription errors too.
Almost without exception, documents that are recorded in court record books
are derivative records. There are instances where the parties actually
signed their names into a record book. If you want to know whether something
is original or not, just ask "was the document I am looking at copied from
another document?" If so, it is not an original. When I do a multi-part
bibliography, I include a section for original documents and another section
for court-recorded documents.
Paul K. Graham
> Back in February there was a thread on the list about compiling a
> biblography. I had surgery back in January and am really just getting
> my act together.
> I printed out many posts to review later. I have a simple question
> based on a discussion between Donn and Craig about how to divide a
> Somewhere in this thread I became confused. Is the entry in the
> volume at the courthouse of a vital record considered an original or
> derivative source of primary information? It seems to me that the
> written license or record that is given to the patron is the original
> (if one was
> given) and the clerk's entry, a
> derivative. However, that would catagorize so many courthouse records
> as derivative. I would appreciate some clarification on this point
> from my fellow APGers.
> Thank you.
> Rondina P. Muncy
> Grapevine, Texas
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> The Association of Professional Genealogists
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|RE: [APG] Clerk's copy -- original vs. derivative by "Paul K. Graham" <>|