Call Before You Make the Trip to the Courthouse

This is not the courthouse that’s discussed in the tip. This illustration is used because I like it 😉

I made something of a last minute trip to a courthouse about 100 miles from where I live so that I could obtain a copy of a marriage record. The website for the office indicated they had the records for the time I needed and what the fees were.

When I arrived, they told me that all requests for genealogical records were handled by volunteers who answered them by mail.  I could not get the record that day. I filled out the form. I paid the fee and I left.

Always call and find out research policies before you make a trip. That’s true whether the trip if 10 miles, 100 miles, or 1,000.  It’s especially true if it is 1,000.

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7 thoughts on “Call Before You Make the Trip to the Courthouse

  1. Kat

    Good advice about calling ahead. I guess that court house didn’t want strangers getting into their books? Maybe previous researchers did not leave things in order.

  2. Marilyn Toole

    After driving 5 hours to Pittsburgh to look at guardianship records, I finally found the right office in the THIRD building in the courts complex. The clerk then sent me to Probate and she back to him. He would not permit me to look at the records myself, wouldn’t even turn the book so I could see what he was pointing to, said, “That’s all there is.! I was so tired, wet, and discouraged by then I just went back to the hotel. I’m going to hire someone who knows their way around incompetents like him. You can never be too prepared.

    1. Dana

      Being willing to help dig up genealogical records would be a great source of revenue for county governments. Be nice if they would see it that way.

  3. Sharon Purcell

    Local courthouse had trouble with people stealing stamps on some records. In removing stamps they damaged pages and information. Many records went into archives in state capital. So records aren’t in courthouse.

    1. Kat

      While on a tour of historic homes, I saw a book from the county courthouse displayed on the old piano in one of the houses! People who steal public records should be prosecuted.


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