African American Court Records

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United States  > African American Research  > Court Records

Court records in county courthouses or federal district courthouses can contain genealogy. Such records include court docket books, court minute books, and court case files in the court clerk's office. Federal court records more than thirty years old are moved to the National Archives which serve that court's state.

State Government Records Petitions can be a source of genealogical information. Some blacks petitioned their state, asking for special help. (For example, a law was passed in the Republic of Texas in 1840, requiring all free blacks to leave by 1842. Some blacks petitioned the Republic, and were allowed to stay.)

Civil Court Records from Other Parishes, 1700s-1900, will include successions, marriages, and conveyance (deed) records. The latter include sales of slaves as well as sales of land. Slaves sometimes sued their owners in county court for mistreatment.

Registers of Slaves or Free Negroes Before the Civil War

Some states required free blacks to have a certificate. Some state required slave registration. Such records can be found in some county courthouses, state libraries, archives, or historical societies.