Rose, Christine. Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures.

San Jose, CA: CR Publications, 2004. 219p., softcover. Index, illus. $21.98. ISBN 0-929626-16-8.

Rose is a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists and a well-known speaker at national conferences. She’s also an admitted courthouse junky. There are more than 3,000 courthouses in the United States and she’s poked around in more than 500 of them — and she would be the first to tell you that every one is different, even in neighboring counties formed at the same time. (I’ve spent considerable time in courthouses myself, though not as many as Christine. Maybe only 100.)

Which county office has custody of which types of records varies from state to state, as do the names of the departments themselves. Big city courthouses are very different from small rural ones. Courthouses in poorer areas of the country do things differently, by necessity, than courthouses in wealthy counties. And that’s not to mention the wide variation in personalities among county clerks and their minions, not only from place to place but even from year to year. Every experienced researcher has run across courthouse workers who have no tolerance whatever for genealogists — balanced by folks in the neighboring county who will go far out of their way to help you find what you’re looking for. Rose approaches her topic methodically, from figuring out which county ought to have the records you’re seeking (counties often have parents and offspring, too) and where to start when you arrive (with the indexes, the use of which can be arcane), to dealing intelligently with all sorts of records: deeds, vital records, estates, civil and criminal court books, and all the others. She goes on to discuss what’s available on microfilm (and, these days, online) when your travel budget is tight, and the “strategies for success” that have worked for her. Courthouse research is a very difficult subject to generalize about, but this volume does an excellent job.

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Published in: on 5 November 2010 at 9:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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