Georgia Court Records
This entry was originally written by the Johni Cerny and Robert S. Davis for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Unfortunately, few colonial Georgia court records survive. Georgia’s state constitution provided for two county level courts to be created in 1777. Superior courts were established at the county level to hear cases dealing with divorce, civil, and criminal charges, naturalization, military discharges, homesteads, prisons, and slaves. Simultaneously, courts of ordinary were created to hear and record cases involving probate matters. It also dealt with indentures, minor debt, paupers, licenses, voting, and marriage. Each court kept minutes, which are useful in genealogical research.
Inferior courts were created in 1798 and were responsible for probate matters (until 1852), civil matters, and misdemeanor type civil and criminal cases. Georgia’s state supreme court began in 1846, and the case files and records of this court are in the Georgia Archives. The decisions of that court are published annually in the Georgia Reports. With the exception of only the most recent records, the federal district and circuit court records for Georgia are at the National Archives—Southeast Region (see page 12).
Georgia’s state prison and asylum records are housed at the Georgia Archives. These records are open to researchers when over seventy-five years have passed from the date of their creation. The earliest Georgia prison and asylum records are used in Robert S. Davis Jr.’s two-volume Georgia Black Book (Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1982). The FHL has a broad collection of records of Georgia’s courts at the county level, as well as the U.S. Circuit Court, District of Georgia.
Ancestry.com has a collection of penitentiary records subscribers can search at Atlanta, Georgia, Federal Penitentiary Index, ca. 1880-1922.