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15 May 2015

Indexes Are Usually Finding Aids

Indexes are generally only used to get the researcher to the record that was used to create the index. A recent posting to Rootdig.com makes it clear why indexes should not be used as records when the originals are easily available. 

There is always the chance that the indexer made a mistake or that there is more on the record than is in the index. If the originals are gone as sometimes is the case, then the index is all we have. And occasionally an indexer will add information to the index that's not in the original record. 

But no matter the situation, you should at least ask yourself:

how do I find the record that this index indexes?

Failing to ask that question could be your problem.

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