LAW AS TO PUBLIC RECORDS. By the common law the general public had no absolute right to examine records preserved by the govern mental authorities. For example, a person could not demand to see a record of title to real estate simply because be desired to make an abstract thereof out of curiosity or for historical research. Only such persons as had an interest in the prop erty, or expected to acquire an interest in it, could, as a matter of right, demand to see the records, and compel the custodian to allow in spection in case of his refusal. The theory of this rule was that the time of public officers should not be taken in showing records to per sons having no actual interest in seeing them. This has been carried to the extent of refusing to allow title guaranty companies the privilege of examining records of titles to land for the pur pose of making abstracts thereof for use in their offices. This rule is also true as to judicial and other public records by the common law, and it still obtains in some of the United States. However, in England and in most of the United States, the statutes provide that public records may be inspected by any one, with reasonable regulations as to time and manner of examina tion.
A public record is good evidence of the matter to which it relates, and most jurisdictions pro vide that copies of a record, duly authenticated by the official custodian, shall be received in evi dence with the same force and effect as the originals. This saves the public inconvenience of having records in daily use transported to the courts during a trial. The printed statutes of a State are deemed to be official, and must be accepted as such by the public.
Consult: Cooper, An Account of the Most Im portant Public Records of Great Britain (Lon don, 1832) : Thomas. Official Handbook to the Public Records (ib., 1S53) : Ewald, Our Public Records (ib., 1873) ; Seargill-Bird. .1 Guide to the Principal Classes of Documents Prescrred in. the Public Record Office; Reeve. History of Eng lish. (ib., 1S09) ; and the Commentaries of Blackstone and Kent. CONVEYANCE; JUDG MENT; LIEN; MECHANICS' LIEN; RECORDING OE DEEDS; RECORD, JUDICIAL.