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Introduction to Exotic Records

Thomas E. Root, Land and Permitting II (1996)

To help the bar and the landmen's profession locate these historic records and understand some their uses is the purpose of this segment of this Special Institute. In this regard, we are very fortunate to have with us some true experts in the location and use of these records. But before introducing these people, let me say a word about the use of these records and how the the use of these records can be more than a mere arcane study.

As I mentioned above, the records we are talking about can be used to discover FACTS. Old facts perhaps, but facts none the less. But facts generally must be part of a pattern to be useful, and it is here that the concept of team work comes in. In several matters I have been involved in, I have worked with Mark Leutbecker and his expertise in plying the dark unknowns of the National Archives. Mark is very good at saying “What do you what me to look for?”, but he can't get very far if I don't give him a clear idea of what it is that I am after. Hence, the first step in effective use of exotic records is to be able to define the objective. It is after a clear definition is at hand that work can get results. But what if it's just a hunch? What if its just a thought ... is there something out there? Logic certainly isn't getting me anywhere, and doesn't deliver any satisfactory explanation of why the situation is the way it is.