Sunday, October 04, 2009

New York Historical Court Records

A number of Law Review members have been asking for help finding New York cases from the 1600's and 1700's--back when there were officials called schouts. Chances are that, in the end, most of these cases will have to be retrieved from clerks offices and archives. But we have been trying to make finding these cases a little easier. Here are a couple of the tips we have gathered so far.

-- If you are not looking for a case, but rather for a complaint or a pleading, don't hold out much hope for finding it published anywhere.

-- Supreme Court Cases, New York County. A number of the cases sought are from the New York City branch of the Supreme Court, which was founded in 1691. These cases are kept by the New York County Clerk's Office (see The Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York's Duely and Constantly Kept. The only other source we have found so far that we think may have these cases is Supreme Court of Judicature of the Province of New York, 1691-1704, which is held at Axinn Library's Special Collections Department, but we have not looked for any cases in these volumes yet.

-- Kingston cases. Many of the other cases sought are from Kingston, or elsewhere in Ulster County, which means that they are probably translated Dutch cases full of words like schout. One source gatherer got lucky and found one of these cases in this book. And like the Supreme Court cases, some of these Dutch colonial cases may be in Axinn's Special Collections within volumes of New York Historical Manuscripts, Dutch, however we haven't had the chance to see whether many cases are contained in those volumes yet.

UPDATE: We have checked the books mentioned at Axinn's Special Collections, and the volumes held by Hofstra do not contain full records for the cases sought.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

No comments: