Inside Sources: On the Court Docket

Inside Sources: On the Court Docket

Wondering what kinds of records courhouses keep? Here's a sampling of the possibilities.

Take this list of records on your courthouse research trips — they represent just a sampling of what you might find:

• adoptions

• apprenticeships and indentures

• bastardy cases

• business and professional licenses

• coroner’s files and inquests

• court proceedings

• guardianship papers

• homestead files

• insanity and commitment hearings

• jury lists

• justice of the peace records

• land deeds, surveys and plat maps

• livestock brands and marks

• mining records

• mortgages and leases

• name changes

• naturalizations

• orphans records

• poorhouse/county farm records

• prenuptial agreements

• property foreclosures

• tax rolls

• vital records

• voter registrations

• wills and probates

• wolf-scalp bounties

Research Tip

County names and boundaries have changed over the years. To find out which court had jurisdiction over your family, learn your ancestral county’s “genealogy,” including its birth date and parent counties. Use a reference such as The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists (Family Tree Books) to sort out county lineages and learn which counties have which records for which eras.

Research Tip

Before you trek to the courthouse, pack the following supplies in your tote along with your regular on-the-road research materials: prioritized list of records to look for, change for photocopiers and parking meters, digital camera (if you have one) and spare battery, pens or mechanical pencils, notepad, magnifying glass, white cotton gloves, hand wipes, dust mask, snack and water bottle.
 
From the September 2005 Family Tree Sourcebook

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