North Carolina, Civil Action Court Papers (FamilySearch Historical Records)

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

United States Gotoarrow.png North Carolina

Access the Records
North Carolina, Civil Action Court Papers, 1712-1970 .
This article describes a collection of records at
North Carolina, United States
North Carolina flag.png
Flag of North Carolina
US Locator North Carolina.png
Location of North Carolina
Record Description
Record Type Civil Action
Collection years 1712-1970
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites

What is in the Collection?

This collection includes a variety of records, including records that sometimes state family relationships, where either adversary proceedings or ex parte proceedings. Civil actions were generally brought to settle questions of land ownership, unpaid debts, unfulfilled contracts, and unperformed agreements. They include divorces, suits concerning dower, breach of contract, slander, slave manumissions, naturalizations and legitimization of bastard children. These records are in chronological order. There are indexes to some of them and there are dockets which can be used as an index to the actual court records. The collection covers the years 1712 to 1970.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for North Carolina, Civil Action Court Papers, 1712-1970.

Collection Content

Sample Images

The information found in this collection varies by court case. It may include any of the following:

  • Names of interested parties
  • Date of court proceeding or transaction
  • Details of the case
  • Amount of monies exchanged or paid
  • Names of relatives, neighbors, or witnesses
  • Residences
  • Occupations

General Information About These Records

Pre-1868 County courts, sometimes called the County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, handled both civil and criminal cases. Minutes contain such matters as estate, land, illegitimacy, apprenticeships, bonds, certificates granting freedom to slaves, and more. Many of the original volumes have been lost or severely damaged. Most surviving volumes are in the state archives. In addition to having microfilms of many county court records, the library also has published abstracts many of the pre-1868 minute books. These publications are indexed.

1806–present: Superior Courts of Law were established in each county in 1806. Though the superior courts acted concurrently with the Court of Common Pleas, they handled more serious or complex civil and criminal cases. In 1868, the Superior Courts of Law merged with the Superior Court of Equity.

1806–1868: Superior Courts of Equity were also created in 1806. Their purpose was to deal with fairness issues. Most cases related to probate and land matters, and records generally listed heirs. In 1868, they merged with the Superior Court of Law.

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The place of residence
  • The court date
  • The names of interested individuals

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "County" category
⇒ Select the "Record Type, Date Range and Volume" category which takes you to the images

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example use the date and locality to search for census, land and church records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after 1900.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
  • Witnesses in court cases may be close relatives.

I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Check for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local historical and genealogical groups also compile indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, plea se email them to Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"North Carolina, Civil Action Court Papers,1712-1970." Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2016. Citing Department of Archives and History, Raleigh.

Image citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for North Carolina, Civil Action Court Papers, 1712-1970.

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.