|An example of a probate inventory and valuation|
For the past month's, my wife and I have been serving a Senior Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Record Preservation Specialists for FamilySearch. We have been working in the Maryland State Archives helping to digitize probate records. During our work of digitizing these records, we have been impressed by their immense value for genealogical research. Unfortunately, most researchers who even know to use probate records consider wills to be the chief records and the only ones of value. I don't want to understate the value of wills, but the entire probate process includes a whole series of valuable records. Some of the valuable types of records usually classified as probate records include the following:
- Estate inventories and accountings
- Reports of sales
and here in a former slave state, Certificates of Freedom. In addition, there are all the Court's procedural documents, signatures, and the other associated documents that also contain valuable information. The inventories and accounts of sale are some of the most interesting documents. Here in Maryland, and elsewhere, they list all of the names of those who purchase items from the estate sale. These lists often include the names of all of the family members living in the general area of the location of the deceased's property. These lists also indicate the economic level of the deceased and provide an insight into the types of property owned. In short, they are not only helpful for research, but they are also fascinating.