Alabama County Resources
This entry was originally written by Robert S. Davis and Mary Bess Paluzzi in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
County level records have been microfilmed and are available at the Alabama Department of Archives and History and the FHL. County records vary widely from county to county in both quality and quantity. Some have been carefully preserved while others have been much abused and neglected. Some records have simply disappeared. Other scattered records are now preserved by the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the University of Alabama Library, and the Samford University Library.
North Alabama counties of Blount, Cullman, Lawrence, Madison, Morgan, and St. Clair have local archives. See Marcia K. Smith Collier’s Alabama County Data and Resources (see Background Sources for Alabama). The Genealogical Society of Utah is now microfilming “loose papers” in Alabama counties for researching through the FHL.
Ten Alabama counties have had significant destruction of records by fire. These “burned” counties and counties that have had less destructive fires are indicated on the chart. However, not all records were lost.
Between 1935 and 1945 the Historical Records Survey conducted a preliminary inventory of fifteen county archives; see Alabama Historical Records Survey, Inventory of the County Archives of Alabama (Birmingham: Alabama Historical Records Survey, 1838–1942). Each county’s volume contains a historical sketch of the county followed by a description and history of each county office as well as an inventory of each office’s records. The counties that were surveyed include Clay, Colbert, Conecuh, Cullman, Greene, Hale, Lauderdale, Lowndes, Madison, Marengo, Sumter, Talladega, Wilcox, and Winston. Unfortunately, the inventory has never been updated, revised, or expanded to include counties not originally surveyed. The University of Alabama Library’s special collections department also has inventories of the DeKalb and Cherokee county courthouse holdings compiled in 1979.
In the chart that follows, former names of counties are indicated and the addresses listed are for county courthouses. Court records are at the circuit court at the county seat, although no survey has been completed for all counties. Land and probate records come in a variety of forms for each county. Many are on microfilm (see discussion in those sections above). Three counties have two county seats. Record availability on the chart is drawn from the Alabama Archives and History’s information on county records. To keep current with county record changes and holdings, check www.archives.state.al.us/referenc/procount.html.