Genealogy at a Glance: Court Records Research


Author: Elliott, Wendy Bebout
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 4 pp. folded


Court records are invaluable in genealogical research, but they are decentralized and difficult to locate. Probate records, as one example, are located in over 3,000 separate county courthouses. They are among the most important records for genealogical research because they identify names, dates, residences, and family relationships, yet there is considerable difficulty in finding them and exploiting their contents. The American court system is complicated, and the challenge for genealogists is to understand the court system in order to locate the relevant records.

You could make a lifetime’s study of the American court system, but if your goal is family history research, this Genealogy at a Glance outline will provide an indispensable shortcut, guiding you through the major types of court records that are crucial in your research–for example, probate records, naturalization records, land records, marriage and divorce records, tax records–in short almost every type of record that helps to identify family relationships. The main thing you will learn is that county courthouses generally contain the records of most interest to genealogists, and therefore this guide offers invaluable tips for finding and accessing records at the county courthouse level.

Like all Genealogy at a Glance outlines, this one also offers guidance on the principal supplementary record sources, provides a list of the best online resources, and identifies the major repositories, all the while dealing with a complex subject in the simplest way possible.

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