Research Guide – U.S. Court Records

/Research Guide – U.S. Court Records
Research Guide – U.S. Court Records2018-11-01T23:16:43+00:00

Most courts in America are courts of record, that is, they are required by law to keep a record of their proceedings. United States courts are no exception.

Even nowadays, few people escape mention in a court room records at some time throughout their lives as witnesses, litigants, jurors, appointees to office, or as petition signatories. Nevertheless, Americans of a couple of generations ago also expected to attend local court proceedings when they were in session. It was a civic duty-and they could be fined if they did not attend. Wyoming court files mirror U.S. history. Buried away in courthouses and archives everywhere are the dreams and frustrations of lots of citizens. The chances are great that your ancestors have left a concise record of at least some areas of life in a court room records.

  • On-Site United States County Court Records Search
  • Court, Land, Wills & Financial – Court records are an often overlooked, yet very valuable tool for finding information to assist you in your research. Land records, such as deeds, allow you to tie an ancestor to a specific place at a point in time. Other court records like those dealing with finances and estates often list related family members or give interesting details like the total value of property owned by your ancestors to add interest to your family history.
  • United States Court Record Books –

Genealogists often avoid searching court records, especially when they have not been indexed. Difficult and complex research problems cannot be solved without the clues and facts contained in court records, especially in the Southern states.

A lot of people who do genealogy research tend to avoid using court records. They can be full of useful information, but people tend to not like using them. Why is that? Well, they can simply be difficult to decipher. There are often many different documents to sift through and a lot of them are not complete or seem disorganized.

Nevertheless, court documents and records can be extremely useful when you are looking into your family tree. After all, most people have some sort of dealings with courts in their lifetimes. So, court records aren’t just old, dusty documents. They are actually full of historical data. You can use that data to identify new and interesting branches of your family tree.

The State and Local Government Internet directory provides one-stop access to the websites of thousands of state agencies and county governments.  If you know of a Federal, State or Counties government that has an official web site but is not linked or listed, or if the link is in error, please send us an email so we may edit our database.

County and City Government Websites

Click on the State links below to get a list of current county and county seat government web sites.

State Election Websites

The secretaries of state serves as the state’s chief elections official (although many states also have supervisors of elections, which are usually county elected officials). In 38 states, ultimate responsibility for the conduct of elections falls on the secretary of state. Click on the State government links below to visit the secretary of state (or equivalent) official web sites.

Common Court Terminology

Even if your ancestor is not mentioned in a probate case, consider all of the other procedures which might have resulted in him or her appearing in court records:

  • Admiralty courts (concerning events that took place at sea, on lakes, etc.)
  • Adoptions
  • Affidavits
  • Apprenticeships
  • Bankruptcies
  • Bonds
  • Chancery
  • Civil cases
  • Civil War claims
  • Claims
  • Complaints
  • Court opinions
  • Criminal
  • Decrees
  • Declarations
  • Defendant
  • Depositions
  • Divorce
  • Dockets
  • Guardianship
  • Judgments
  • Jury records
  • Land disputes
  • Marshals’ records
  • Military
  • Minutes
  • Naturalization records
  • Notices
  • Orders
  • Orphan records
  • Petitions
  • Plaintiff
  • Printed court records
  • Probate
  • Receipts
  • Slave and Slave owners
  • Subpoenas
  • Summons
  • Testimony
  • Transcripts
  • Witnesses

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