Discover the legal affairs of your ancestors in public court records printed in newspapers ranging from probate notices to court case files. Explore the legislature that shaped U.S. history in legal news articles dating back to the early 1700s.
Legal & Court Records Search Tips
Use this search to find newspaper articles about court cases, probate estate notices, name changes and other legal matters in the historical newspaper archives. This online collection contains public legal and court records as published in U.S. newspapers from 1704–1999.
Broad Court Case Record Search
Search for a court case by entering one party’s name in the Last Name field and the other party’s name in the Include Keywords field.
Search by Name of Court Case
Also try searching for court case articles by using the name of the trial in the Include Keywords field. When entering more than one word you need to surround it with quotation marks. Use the OR Boolean operator to query more than one variation of the trial name. See the Boolean Operators section for more help.
"Roe v Wade" OR "Roe vs Wade"
Search by Name of Courthouse
You can read about all of the cases in a particular court by entering the courthouse name in the Include Keywords field. When entering more than one word you need to surround it with quotation marks. Use the OR Boolean operator to query more than one variation of the court name. See the Boolean Operators section for more help.
"Fourth District Court" OR "4th District Court"
You can narrow the courthouse record search further by location and/or date range.
You can put your courthouse record results in chronological order if desired. At the top of the results list on the upper right hand side is a drop-down menu. Set it to "Oldest Items." This will order the results from the oldest legal article to the newest.
Search for Estate & Probate Records
You can search for a probate or estate case by searching for the individual’s name in the First Name and Last Name fields.
Search for Divorce Records
Search for divorce court cases that had information published in the newspapers by entering the surname in the Last Name field and the keyword "divorce" in the Include Keywords field.
Search for Change of Name Notices
You can search for change of name notices by entering the ancestor’s name (the old or new one) in the First Name and Last Name fields.
Visit the Blog
Need additional help tracing your family tree? Visit our genealogy blog for more search tips that will help you do better family history research with GenealogyBank.