Strategy 4: Read Each Document Thoroughly


It is essential to take the time to read each document thoroughly in its entirety each time we look at it. We should not assume that we know what is in it. You will otherwise not gain the full meaning of the document. Handwritten documents may be difficult to decipher but take the time to concentrate on identifying words, spellings, and names. The names may provide clues to other evidence such as census schedules, business relationships, collateral marriage connections, interment sites, and more.

Some of the information, including terminology used at the time the document was created, may be unknown to us. That includes legal terms in Latin and English, and archaic medical terminology. We should pause to locate definitions so we can understand the terms and their contextual meanings.

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