State of Kentucky
Court Records Research

Kentucky Court Research - The Kentucky Court of Appeals was given its judicial powers by the first constitution of Kentucky. Other courts in Kentucky were the following: Superior, County, Chancery, Quarterly, Circuit, Justice of Peace, Police, District, Quarter Sessions, Oyer and Terminer, General.

Records from those courts may include minutes, orders, dockets, and case files. Kentucky court records may also include records relating to taxes, land, and probate issues. Original court records may be found in boxes, cabinets, drawers, folders, and books in the various court offices and repositories. Some of the books of court records have been placed on microfilm. Some have also been published. However, most of the original records have not been copied and only exist in the various files, folders and boxes kept by the court clerks and offices.

Kentucky court jurisdictions have changed several times over the years. In fact, some types of early Kentucky courts no longer exist. Some have also had their names changed. Since records may not be titled or filed in an organized manner, it can be difficult to locate the records of interest. So, all county court records must be examined. Up until 1852 county courts presided over criminal and civil matters. Then circuit courts (or quarterly quarts) were put in charge of some criminal matters. Some criminal and civil matters were handled by circuit courts as well, along with divorce cases. The circuit courts also acted as courts of appeals. Up until about 10 years after Kentucky gained its statehood the quarts of quarter sessions usually handled cases that involved large amounts of money.

The Department for Libraries and Archives holds copies of a lot of county court records on microfilm. The FHL, University of Kentucky Library, Filson Library, and Kentucky Historical Society all have transcribed county court records on file as well. Other regional and local libraries have collections of transcribed and published records as well.

Courts and their jurisdiction have altered over time in Kentucky. Some early courts are no longer extant. Some have undergone name or jurisdictional changes.

Kentucky Tax Research - Early tax records from Kentucky can be extremely helpful for researchers who are interested in family history. From the time of each county being founded, most of them have kept annual records for tax purposes. Some of the earlier tax records may list some or all of the following information: Men Aged 16 to 21, Men over 21, Real Estate Acreage, Real Estate Value, Watercourses, Horses, Slaves.

The FHL and the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives each have microfilmed copies of most tax records for each Kentucky county through 1892. There are also several 1892 original tax records on file at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Tax records from 1875 can be found at the Kentucky Historical Society.

Each tax list for Kentucky is organized by county and then sorted in chronological order. Records are organized according to district, and many records are then arranged by last name of the resident. Although, some records are not perfectly alphabetized. Some research libraries also have published tax records on file.

Most counties have yearly tax records from the date of organization.

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