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New England Court Records: A Research Guide for Genealogists And Historians Paperback – February 6, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Old court records are scattered, at best. Throw in the esoteric language and changes in the laws through four centuries, and the difficulties of finding, reading, and comprehending legal documents are daunting. Rapaport's love of American history and her legal expertise have enabled her to produce a useful resource directory that also inspires researchers to delve into the culture of the subjects they research.

Part 1, "Understanding the Basics," provides an overview of the American legal system in general and the courts of the New England states in particular. The various types of court records are described, and logical places to find original and published versions are suggested. Part 2, "Getting Specific, State by State," offers court-history time lines and describes which records can be found for every court in each New England state. A separate chapter covers federal courts. Courts not part of the judicial branch, such as military and tax courts, are not included, nor are deed registries.

Part 3, "Sampling the Sources," uses colorful examples to show how court records can reveal the flavor of a period as well as factual information. Researching slander in Maine, bankruptcy in post-Civil War Vermont, and justice of the peace records in Connecticut, for example, shows how litigious society has been since early days and paints interesting character sketches of the individuals involved. Readers familiar with the author's regular column, "Tales from the Courthouse," in New England Ancestors magazine know how fascinating some of these records can be.

The appendix lists contact information for courts, archives, law libraries, and publishers; provides a legal glossary; and recommends further reading, including online sources. Although much of this information can be found elsewhere, its inclusion here is helpful. A valuable reference tool as well as a training manual for historians and genealogists interested in New England. The publisher's Web site [http://www.QuillPenPress.com] provides free updates. Sally Jane
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

A very important work -- definitely a required addition for the collection of every genealogical library. -- Columns (Newsletter of Int'l Society of Family History Writers & Editors), March 2006

If you're doing research in the New England courts, this book is probably the most valuable resource you can consult. -- Archival Anecdotes (A Publication of the Friends of the National Archives), Spring/Summer 2006

Make room on your shelf of must-have New England genealogical reference books for this thorough and indispensable guide. -- Vermont Genealogy, July 2006

May well be this year's best and most important new reference book for New England genealogists. -- Newsletter of the Genealogical Society of Vermont, May 2006

The essential reference to understand and locate legal records in the New England states. This book is a winner! -- Ancestry Daily News (Ancestry.com), March 3, 2006
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Quill Pen Press, LLC; 1 edition (February 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933623071
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933623078
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Diane Rapaport is a full-time professional genealogist, based in the Boston area, who traces ancestors and locates missing heirs, applying her investigative skills to find people from the 17th to the 21st centuries. She began her career as a trial lawyer and has been a licensed attorney since 1978, but she left the practice of law more than a decade ago to focus on her lifelong interests in genealogy and history.

Diane is the author of two award-winning books:

New England Court Records: A Research Guide for Genealogists and Historians (2006). Winner of Benjamin Franklin Awards (Independent Book Publishers Association) for Best History and Best Reference, and finalist for Best New Voice in Nonfiction; and Best Genealogical Resource Award, Connecticut Society of Genealogists..

The Naked Quaker: True Crimes and Controversies from the Courts of Colonial New England (2007). Finalist, ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award for History.

Visit Diane's website, www.DianeRapaport.com.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Bruce Amstutz on March 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a timely and wonderful reference work. For those interested in uncovering information about seventeenth-century New England ancestors, this is an excellent resource guide. As many family researchers know, court records for the 1600s are one of three important sources of genealogical information, the others being vital records(town and church)and wills. The early settlers were litigious, being able to file their complaints easily and cheaply in the courts, without lawyers. Hence, there is a wealth of family information in these court files -- often highly amusing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Kendall Martin, FASG on March 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is so well organized, it will be handy for many future projects. I am impressed with its depth of coverage and its human tone with what could be an unfriendly presentation. Thanks immensely for putting this reference into the hands of those of us scrambling for answers to our New England genealogical puzzles.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Very highly recommended to all genealogy researchers, whether novice or expert, New England Court Records: A Research Guide For Genealogists And Historians by Diane Rapaport (former trial lawyer with a B.A. in History and a J.D. degree in Law) is an in-depth 470-page collective study of the locations and contributions of New England's facilities and resources which would historians and genealogical researchers to better understand the history and citizenship of New England. Introducing the reader to a detailed description of each facility, along with contact and location information, and employing an easy-to-use format exploring a state, county, and city/township locator reference ideal. A major work that could well serve as a template for other regions of the country, New England Court Records is a thoroughly "user friendly" reference ideal for the purposes of genealogists and local historians researching the New England area.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Malcolm C. Hamilton on March 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
Rapaport, a former trial lawyer, has worked for years as a legal practitioner with court records. This thorough and important work on a little known subject, outside the legal profession, will become a standard for genealogists and historians. For the first time, we have an extensive but readable guide to the intricacies of the often surprising riches found in court records. She provides an overview of the American legal system, the specifics of New England courts, types of court records, and where to look for them in each of the states, county by county.

This book is a must-purchase for any serious genealogical library, personal or professional.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Chiaravalloti on February 1, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I neglected to see the words"'research guide"! My fault for not paying attention. I'm sure it deserves 5 stars for those wanting research advice. I just wanted the records themselves.
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