Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Genealogy at a Glance: Court Records

The Genealogical Publishing Company in Baltimore has published another in its series of "Genealogy at a Glance" laminated research guides - this time for Court Records by Wendy Bebout Mitchell.  

This "Genealogy at a Glance" booklet has four laminated pages on one 11" x 17" paper (folded). It is designed to give the user the basic elements of genealogy research in the allotted space. They provide an overview of the facts a researcher needs to know in order to begin and proceed successfully with research in the subject.

The description of the Court Records booklet includes:

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—probate records, for example, 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.

The booklet has these subjects:

*  Contents
*  Quick Facts 
*  Overview
*  Getting Started

*  Major Types of Court Records
*  Building a Knwledgeable Base
*  Sources

**  Intact County Court Registers
**  Published versus Original Digitized or Microfilm
**  Lost, Destroyed, or Misplaced Court Records
**  Online Records
** Indexes

*  Major Repositories

This booklet is designed primarily for the person who is not an expert, or has little experience, on finding Court Records of their ancestors.  It provides guidance and excellent ideas to understand the basics of conducting court record research, with details of the different types of records that might be accessed - probate, civil, criminal, equity and other legal cases.

For someone like me that teaches and talks about genealogy a bit, it is invaluable because I can pull it out and provide some guidance to my student or colleague interested in the subject.

The beauty of these "Genealogy at a Glance" booklets is that they are very light and portable in a briefcase or laptop case. They are fixtures in my research case.

This four-page laminated booklet costs $8.95,  plus postage and handling. You can order it through the Genealogical Store, or use the link for the Court Records booklet and click on the "Add to Cart" link.  I recommend buying these at seminars and conferences where they are offered in order to avoid the shipping costs.

I have reviewed several similar works in recent years:

*  Genealogy at a Glance: Old Southwest Genealogy Research

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Copyright (c) Randall J. Seaver, 2014.

Disclosure: contacted me recently and asked me to provide a review of this booklet. They mailed me a review copy for my personal use as remuneration for this review.

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