Court RecordsProperty Rights of Womenas a Consideration
Court Records – Ch. 21Court Records – Records of actions on civilmatters.– Criminal (public) & Civil (private)– Note: Non-adversary proceedings, such as name changes, naturalizations, adoptions, etc. also have significant genealogical importance!– Every writ, affidavit, complaint, answer, summons, subpoena, judgment, injunction, petition, motion, deposition, pleading, sentence, order, decree & all proceedings & testimony of every case are detailed in the courts’ records & filed in systematic order.
American Court System• State courts vs federal courts – Limited value to genealogists, most records they will be concerned with are usually on a state level.• Law vs equity-(justice) – Law: recover monetary damages for injuries to himself, his property, his pocketbook, or his reputation. – Equity: compel someone to do something or stop doing something (injunction)• Trial courts (original jurisdiction) vs appellate courts (case goes on appeal from the decision of the trial court.
Records & Access• A civil docket entry is a short statement giving an abbreviated account of an important act of the court in the conduct of a case.• Usually indexed• Goal – provide access to the actual court case files.• Other dockets – trial dockets, execution dockets & judgment dockets
Divorce Records• Contain genealogical information – Any children would be listed with names & ages – Birth dates of the parties involved – Date & place of marriage – Date & grounds for the divorce – Normally indexed and open to the public – Exceptions, New York only open to the parties involved.
Citizenship & Naturalization Matters• Naturalization – granting of citizenship rights to aliens as if they were native-born.• 14th Amendment – guaranteed national citizenship & extended to all born or naturalized in US, subject to its jurisdiction.• Located - National Archives Field Branches• Terms – Declaration of intention, Naturalization petitions, Naturalization depositions, oath of allegiance
Property Rights of Women as a Consideration – Ch. 22• Once a woman married, there is little trace of her in records – women had no significant status apart from their husbands.• Single women had same property rights as men (no political rights)• Common law of unity was strong, even when laws were changed, most clung to this old common law principal.
– Real Estate Conveyances • Prevented husband from selling real property without his wife’s consent • Some required husband & wife’s signatures– Laws relating to inheritance • The Widow • The Widower • Woman who inherits property from someone other than her husband