Search Probate Court Records, Case Files & Legal News in Newspapers 1704–1999

Search Probate Court Records, Case Files & Legal News in Newspapers 1704–1999

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.

Enter your ancestor's name below and we'll search court records & legal news to help you learn more about your family history.

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Try different name spellings

Ex: Jenson, Jensen, Jens?n; Carrol, Carol, Caroll, Car* name search tips »

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Try variations of the first name

Ex: William, Will OR Bill, Wm., W., etc. name search tips »

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Try adding a word to narrow the hit results

Ex: occupation, university, home town, etc. keyword search tips »

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Try excluding a word to narrow the hit results

Reduce records from a particular state. Ex: Texas keyword search tips »


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Getting limited results? Broaden the date range

Use a range beyond the ancestor's life span. Ex: 1800 - 1890 or Jan 15, 1890 - Nov 22, 1890 date search tips »

Court Record Search Tips

Search Court Records & Legal News By State

Check your selection to search legal news articles & public court records by state, city, or newspaper title.
  1. Name Change Records in Historical Newspapers
  2. Probate Court Records in Old Newspapers
  3. United States Legislative News
  4. Court Case File Records in Historic Newspapers

  1. Name Change Records
  2. Probate Records
  3. Local, State & Federal Legislation
  4. Court Case Records

  1. Some of our ancestors opted to change their name at some point in their lives and you can find the court record of these legal name changes published in historical newspapers.

    Name changes were especially popular with our immigrant ancestors who had surnames that were difficult for people living in the U.S. to pronounce. These name change records can help you find missing ancestors and trace back your family tree overseas.

  2. Probate records are created by the probate court after a person's death and are required by law to be made public. As such, these probate records are commonly published in newspapers.

    Court probate records contain an inventory of the deceased's estate at their time of death and information about the settlement of their estate. These probate records can provide the names of spouses, siblings, children, other relatives and friends. The list of heirs to the estate can also provide clues to your ancestor's other family members.

  3. Newspapers contain a great deal of information about the legal history of the United States. Newspapers cover the elections, impeachments, laws, bills, acts and other government legislation that affected America's past and our present.

    Read the legal news that shaped our ancestors' lives, from the abolition of slavery to women's right to vote, and other notable moments in American history dating back to Colonial times in our newspaper archives.

  4. You can uncover the legal lives of your ancestors in old newspaper accounts of court case records from the early 1700s to recent years in our historical newspaper archives.

    The public hearings and verdicts of superior, civil and criminal court cases are commonly reported in newspapers. Find civil court cases ranging from divorce decrees to business disputes. Uncover the stories behind criminal court cases ranging from misdemeanors to murder trials.

Legal News Found in Newspapers:
  • Probate Court Records

  • Court Case Files

  • Change of Name Records

  • Local, State & Federal Legislation

And many more!

Search Probate Records and News of Court Cases

Newspapers publish many types of legal news articles ranging from public legal notices to government legislative news. Newspapers are required by law to publish many types of legal notices as public records. As such, you can find a variety of legal notices and

advertisements in newspapers to discover more about your ancestors' lives. From probate and estate records to news accounts of court cases, explore your ancestors' legal affairs and trace your family tree in our historical newspaper archives.

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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.

Example:

"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.

Example:

"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.