How to Use the Digest
How the Documents are Numbered
The first step in the preparation of the calendar was to arrange all the material in chronological order and to assign each item a number representing the date on which it was written or executed. This number appears on the upper left of each entry in the printed calendar.
For example, 23:6:22:1 is the number given to a contract executed on June 22, 1723. The digits in the first place indicate the year, 1723. In the case of documents from the nineteenth century, it was necessary to add an extra digit; 806 thus represents the year 1806, while 16 stands for the year 1716. The second place in the document number represents the month, which in this example is June; the third place is the day, the twenty-second of the month. The final digit differentiates those documents executed on the same day. It does not indicate the sequence in which they were executed, for this is not known.
Occasionally a document is a copy of an original executed at an earlier date.An example of this is document 16:5:16:1, which is a copy made at Kaskaskia on March 9, 1723, of an account of debts originally executed at Villemarie in Canada on May 16, 1716. In such cases, the earlier date, that of the original execution, has always been chosen as the basis for the document number, and the fact that the document is a later copy is indicated in the calendar entry.
In cases where the full date is unknown, blanks have been left in the number. For example 23:- -:- -:1 represents a fragmentary item executed in 1723. 25:6:- -:1 is the number of a document in which the day of execution is illegible or missing. These incomplete numbers are filed at the end either of the year or of the month in which they occur. Some documents have no date at all and it is not possible to assign one from other sources. These items are given a “0″ series number; such as 0:- -:- -:6, and are to be found at the end of the calendar.
Occasionally, it is possible to assign a date to an undated document based on references to it found in other dated materials. These assigned dates have been distinguished from the others by underlining the document number that heads the calendar entry. Thus, the contract numbered 23:10:12:1 does not have a legible date itself, but received its date from information in document 25:10:20:1.
The calendar also included several series of numbers representing a span of years, such as 1723-25:l or 1731-33:1. This numbering form is necessitated by the special case of the notaries’ inventories, the long lists of individual documents made by the French notaries as a record of all the documents in their files. If the document corresponding to an entry in a given notary’s list has survived, it is part of the calendar. But sometimes the document is missing, and only the descriptive phrase from the notary’s list bears witness to the loss. In such a case, the individual entry from the notary’s list is numbered, translated, and included in the calendar, just as if the document had survived. Some of the notaries’ lists do not include dates for all items, and in certain of the lists all the dates have been destroyed. Because it is known during what years the notaries were working, however, it is possible to place a given document description within that period of time. The manuscripts of the notaries’ inventories are variously filed. Four of them, numbered 25:2:19:2, 25:8:7:1, 38:2:11:1, and 75:2:20:1, are filed chronologically. Three others 41:11:8:2, 64:- -:- -:15, and 84:- -:- -:6 are filed at the very end of the series, after the “No Dates.”
In general, individual documents are filed in chronological order, and thus correspond to the order of the calendar entries. This is not possible with those manuscripts that are in the form of ledgers or folios containing multiple parts, each of a different date, following one after the other from page to page. In the calendar, each part summarized from such a manuscript becomes a separate entry under its own date. To indicate that a calendar entry is from such a manuscript and to alert the user that the manuscript will not be found filed in its chronological position, the document number is placed in parentheses. For example, there is entry (39:2:6:2), which is part of document (37:1:15:3), a 76-page register, begun on January 15, 1737 by the French official Delaloere Flaucour. It contains 51 separate items, each bearing a date. For each of these items, there is a calendar entry under its own date, and also a calendar entry for the whole manuscript under its date. The latter entry includes a list of the document numbers assigned to all the individual parts of the manuscript. Several manuscripts have required the use of this procedure.
Three of the notary lists were filmed at the end of the “No Date” manuscripts: 41:11:8:2, 64:- – :- -:15, and 84:- – :- -:6. Because they are not in chronological order, their document numbers should have been in parentheses but are not. Portions of Record Book IIa, on the other hand, were filmed separately and the individual entries should not have had parentheses around the document number. To make these changes would have been complicated, since the filming was completed before this was discovered; therefore, they were left as they are, and the user should be aware of these problems when searching for a document.