Document Types

Editors standardized document types, although generally they assigned the type written by the clerk on the file note. However, there was considerable variation between clerks, courts, and court divisions as to the type of similar documents, so some standardization was necessary. The editors retained some Latin document types, as this was generally the practice during the antebellum period. See the Glossary for descriptions of many document types. Generally, entries from docket books are identified by the docket name. Two exceptions are entries from court record books. The editors have named these entries either order (in criminal and common law cases) or decree (in chancery and probate cases.) Additionally, they have identified documents that may have been referred to in the record as evidence or exhibit, with the appropriate document type. For example, a letter entered as evidence may have been labeled evidence by the clerk, but the editors called the document by its original type—letter. Similarly, some documents such as affidavit or praecipe, which are in the form of a letter, are identified as affidavit or praecipe. Letter, as a document type, is reserved for items of correspondence.