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.)

The book (975 F23s): State Slavery Statutes: Guide to the Microfiche Collection. by Paul Finkelman. This book includes index by subjects, names and geographic locations.  State slave statutes for the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

The Family History Library has the 354 microfiche collection of State Slavery Statutes, typescript original records created by the General Assembles of the states. The records are the acts of laws. Published by University Publications of America.

                                                                          State Slavery Statutes

State Family History Library Fiche # Number of Fiche
Alabama, ca. 1818-1865 6118902 22 fiche
Arkansas, ca. 1818-1864 6118903 8 fiche
Delaware, ca. 1790-1865 6118904 13 fiche
Florida, ca. 1822-1865 6118905 16 fiche
Georgia, ca. 1789-1865      6118906 31 fiche
Kentucky, ca. 1792-1856 6118907 38 fiche
Louisiana, ca. 1804-1865 6118908 34 fiche
Maryland, ca. 1789-1865 6118909 35 fiche
Mississippi, ca. 1799-1865 6118910 31 fiche
Missouri, ca. 1813-1865 6118911 17 fiche
North Carolina, ca. 1789-1865 6118912 19 fiche
South Carolina, ca. 1789-1865 6118913 31 fiche
Tennessee, ca. 1795-1865 6118914 16 fiche
Texas, ca. 1836-1864 6118915 10 fiche
Virginia, ca. 1789-1865 6118916 33 fiche

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.

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