Law & Order: Using Court Records in Your Family History Research
Please Note: Due to scheduled maintenance, you will be unable to register for paid events from 9:30–11:30 a.m on Wednesday, September 20, 2023. Please try again after the listed time to complete your purchase. We thank you for your understanding and patience.
Court records are an important, yet often overlooked, resource for family historians. No matter what side of the law your ancestor may have been on, court records can provide family relationships, places of residences, origins, occupations, and offer unique stories about your ancestors, sometimes in their own words! In this four-week online course, our experts will discuss how to locate, interpret, and navigate civil and criminal cases, probate, naturalization (pre-1906), divorce, and more. We’ll also look at how to find your ancestor in records whether they were a plaintiff, defendant, witness, or juror. Don’t miss this opportunity to uncover the stories of your ancestors!
September 6 – Class 1 – Understanding Court Systems and Records
Presented by Melanie McComb
This first class will give a brief history of the often-complex legal system in the United States starting with the colonial times. We will discuss how to understand the laws specific to a region and time period, examine the types or format of records you’re likely to find (dockets, minutes, orders, case files, etc.), and explore the ways your ancestors may appear in the records.
September 13 – Class 2 – Civil and Criminal Cases
Presented by David Allen Lambert
Whether its disputes among neighbors, hogs going haywire, accusations of witchcraft, lawsuits, or more severe crimes, there’s a good chance you have ancestors who appear in civil and/or criminal cases. In this class, David Allen Lambert will discuss some of the suits found in civil and criminal cases across time, how to locate and access these resources, and how to tease out the stories within.
September 20 – Class 3 – Probate Records
Presented by Melanie McComb
Probate cases offer some of the most important information for family historians. The settling of an estate, assignment of guardianship, and cases of spendthrift can establish family relationships, provide maiden names, confirm origins and occupations, expand your ancestors’ FAN network, and may just be the key to breaking down a genealogical brick wall. In this class, Melanie McComb will provide an overview of these essential court records.
September 27 – Class 4 – Other Court Records: Naturalization, Divorce, and More
Presented by Rhonda R. McClure
In this final class, we’ll look at several types of court records including pre-1906 naturalization records, cases of divorce, and other records such as juror lists. In each example, Rhonda R. McClure will discuss how to identify the court that heard your ancestor’s case, what information is contained in the record, and how to access these resources.