Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Old book provides insight to legal terms

Last evening's release of DearMYRTLE's FAMILY HISTORY HOUR includes an interview with ArchiveCDBooksUSA's Bob Velke. He explained that the 1891 edition of BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY contains archaic legal terms, some of which had changed in usage by the 1910 edition. Both editions are included on the CD Bob sent me.

Please note that the CORRECT URL is:

If we want to understand the legal documents created about or signed by our ancestors, we need to become familiar with the legal terms of the period, not clouding our understanding by imposing our 21-century mindset on the task.

The BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY on CD from is easy to use, and doesn't require an installation on your computer's hard drive. After placing the CD in your drive, you simply click through the pages to discover the meaning of obscure terms such these found in the 1891 edition on page 298:
-- Covert (and feme covert)
-- Covert Baron
-- Coverture

Donn Divine, CG, CGI explains "Editions of Black's Law Dictionary more recent than the Fourth are much less useful to genealogists than earlier ones. To make room for new material, more modern editions have dropped the very words the genealogist may need to interpret old documents--the archaic and obsolete terms that haven't been used for a century or more." See: also carries CDs with the scanned images of other rare books including an interesting dictionary of medical science known as "Dunglison's Medical Dictionary." Ol' Myrt found titles that will help two of her research buddies:
-- Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia by Bishop [William] Meade
-- The Loyalists of Massachusetts and the Other Side of the American Revolution by James H. Stark

From the website we read "The Archive CD Books Project exists to make digital reproductions of old books available to the public, to donate original publications to libraries and other institutions, and to cooperate with these repositories to preserve their existing collections for future generations.

The project began in the UK in March 2000, and now has participating partner companies in several countries worldwide. Archive CD Books USA was formed in mid 2005." is on the right track -- preserving these rare, one-of-a-kind books and making them available to genealogists as scanned images. Thus our research into the past is facilitated without damage to the fragile publications we must review.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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