When Using that Courthouse Index

Courthouse indexes were created before computers, databases, and digitization of records. As a result those indexes may be different from more modern ones that a person used to. A few things worth remembering when using courthouse indexes to records:

  • Indexes to courthouse records are not always strictly alphabetical. Sometimes they are indexed only the first letter of the last name.
  • Some indexes are partially by last name and then by first name.
  • Some clerks created their own indexing system.
  • The Mc and Mac names can be at the front or the end of the “M” section.
  • Not every party in a lawsuit appears in the defendant or plaintiff index.
  • Not every grantor or grantee on a deed will appear in the index.
  • Indexes are not every name indexes.
  • Indexes can be incorrect or missing.
  • Courthouses may have indexes to records that were not filmed by the Family History Library.

A good idea is to ask a local person from the area who is familiar with the records. These people can be an excellent resource.