SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this skillbuilding lecture, presented Thursday, 14 May 2015:

T251: Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL, “Living with Legal Lingo,” reviewed by B. Darrell Jackson, Ph.D., CG

In her usual engaging style, Judy Russell brings to life the necessity of understanding arcane and unfamiliar technical terms in order to properly interpret legal records encountered in genealogical research. Using eighteenth- and nineteenth-century documents involving Daniel Boone and members of his family, she highlights such terms as “indenture on the inquisition,” “escheator,” “coroner,” and “fieri facias,” to illustrate this necessity.

The process of interpreting legal records that Russell recommends is to become familiar with the context of the record, to discover the laws in effect at the time and in the place of the record, and to determine the meaning of the technical terms by use of appropriate reference works. On the latter, she is specific, beginning with Black’s Law Dictionary (no later than the 4th edition), John Bouvier’s earlier law dictionary (1839), and Giles Jacob’s even earlier dictionary (1729). These and other reference works are described and evaluated. The Georgetown Law Library is given the highest accolade as a comprehensive online source of legal reference works.

It is unlikely that anyone will come away from the lecture without being fully aware of the legal lingo that will be encountered in certain kinds of records, of how that lingo needs to be accurately understood, and of how to go about doing so. The use of Black’s, already a part of my repertoire, will now be supplemented by the other sources described in this informative and practical presentation.

A recording of this lecture may be ordered from Jamb Tapes, Inc.

CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.