The Strange Case of the Non-Existent San Francisco Probate Files

Don B. Kates, Jr., Pacific Research Inst. for Public Policy

Prof. Bellesiles claims that his research is supported by hundreds of pre-Civil War probate files but the San Francisco Superior Court (and several other repositories) claim that all these records were destroyed in the earthquake and fire of 1906. Scholars and reporters who pressed Prof. Bellesiles to name the archive where he researched these probate records have been given the names of a series of different Bay Area repositories all of which turn out not to have those records.

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Updated 05/20/2006