A Guide to Genealogy
Research in Arkansas
Major Arkansas courts that have kept records of genealogical value include the following:
Arkansas is in the Ninth Circuit of the Federal Judicial Circuit. Records of this court are indexed in the Federal Record Center for the Ninth Circuit.
Circuit courts have countywide jurisdiction over criminal cases, naturalization, and major civil cases. The Family History Library has copies of many circuit court records.
Chancery courts have countywide jurisdiction over equity, divorce, probates, and adoptions. The Family History Library has some chancery court records. For Pulaski County, for example, the library has copies of the records from 1839 to 1877.
Courts of common pleas have countywide jurisdiction over non-real estate civil matters. The Family History Library has some courts of common pleas records.
County courts have countywide jurisdiction over juvenile matters, taxes, claims, and county expenditures. The Family History Library has some county court records, including Pulaski County files from 1846 to 1878.
Justice of the peace courts have countywide jurisdiction over preliminary hearings of criminal cases and minor contract matters. The Family History Library has some justice of the peace records, such as the Pulaski County files from 1873 to 1917.
Original court records are kept by the clerks in each county courthouse. Copies of records at the Family History Library often date from the creation of a county to about 1900, and some indexes are available through the 1970s. Court records are also available at the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives.
Probate records of Arkansas have been kept by the probate or county courts. The records include case papers, wills, bonds, inventories, and dockets. The Family History Library has probate records for most of the counties of Arkansas, including packets and administrator's settlements. For example, the library has microfilms of a variety of probate records for Pulaski County for the years 1818-1919. You can also obtain copies of the original records by contacting the clerk's office in the appropriate county courthouse.
A statewide index of wills is Mrs. James H. Stevenson and Mrs. Edward L. Westbrooke, Index to Wills and Administrations of Arkansas from the Earliest to 1900 (Jonesboro, Ark: Vowels Printing Co., 1986; FHL book 976.7 P22st).
Go HERE for a list of courthouses
and whether records are available.
Records are also archived at the Arkansas History Commission and State Archives.
Return to the Arkansas State Page
Return to Genealogy Resources in Arkansas
This page was compiled by Edward Hayden.
Copyright © 1998 by Edward Hayden, Coordinator. All rights reserved.
This site may be freely linked to but not duplicated in any manner without written consent.