News from around the web.
Go to Source
Do you have a Jesse James in your family? What about a Wyatt Earp?
Sifting through criminal case files to find your ancestors in criminal court records
is illuminating—whichever side of the law your ancestors are on.
The records created by the criminal justice system are “wonderful additions to any
family history,” says Using
Criminal Court Records Webinar presenter Judy Russell, The
Legal Genealogist, (For
a video sneak peek of this Tuesday, Dec. 11 live webinar [7 p.m. ET], click here.)
Russell sums up those who are in the criminal justice system this way: “They came
in all sizes, shapes, colors. They were men, women and even children. They acted out
of greed or foolishness or just desperation—or were wrongly accused. And they became
“They’re among the most colorful characters in our family trees. They didn’t toe the
line, they went their own ways, and they did one thing that can’t help but warm a
genealogist’s heart: They left records. Arrest records. Conviction records. Prison
“But they weren’t all bad guys (or gals),” she adds. “Your ancestor might have played
a different role: police officer, constable, judge, juror or witness.”
Next week, “we’ll take a look at a whole range of records created after a crime was
committed, from police reports all the way to prison records,” says Russell. “We’ll
look at cases prosecuted in local courts, state courts and federal courts. We’ll look
at some records from other countries. And we’ll look at ways to find the records that
relate to our ancestors in the many roles they played in the criminal justice system
… and what those records tell us about the times in which our ancestors lived.”