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Los Angeles Area Court Records: Finding Aid
mssLos Angeles court records  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Los Angeles Area Court Records
    Dates (inclusive): 1850-1910
    Collection Number: mssLos Angeles court records
    Creator: California. Superior Court (Los Angeles County)
    Extent: 4,484 boxes + 541 bound volumes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains historical court case files, minute books, and supporting materials, dating from 1850-1910, from Los Angeles area courts that have been placed on long-term deposit at the Huntington Library.
    Language: English.

    Access

    Members of the general public may schedule appointments to view case files on-site during regular Huntington business hours by e-mailing readerregistration@huntington.org or by calling 626-405-2191. Access is granted for one case file at a time. Please note: appointments are required to view material from this collection and scheduling is subject to availability. Walk-ins are not permitted. Researchers should identify court case numbers and other pertinent information prior to making an appointment.
    Note: Due to conservation issues, materials received in 2014 are not available for paging.
    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Los Angeles Area Court Records, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    Placed on deposit by Los Angeles County Archival Center, 1996, 2002, 2008, 2014.

    Custodial History

    In 1996 the Los Angeles Superior Court placed historical case files for the period 1850-1879 on long-term deposit at the Huntington Library. These are considered the "First Era" court materials, since they were created under Los Angeles courts' first administrative structure.
    The materials put on deposit at the Huntington comprise:
    • 1st/17th District Court of California: Civil cases, 214 archival boxes, case #1-5431 (with gaps) (1850-1879); Tax suits/taxes, 1 archival box, case #51-122 (with gaps) (1869-1871)
    • Los Angeles County Court: Civil cases, 35 archival boxes, case #2-1205 (with gaps) (1850-1879)
    • Los Angeles Probate Court, First Series: 56 archival boxes, case #1-1222½ (with gaps) (1850-1879)
    • Los Angeles Criminal: 28 boxes (1851, 1861- 1893)
    • Los Angeles Justices Court, Criminal: 6 archival boxes (1855, 1861-1895)
    • Los Angeles Justices Court, Civil, 2 archival boxes (1862-1875)
    • Los Angeles Superior Court – Civil, case #2-75782 (with gaps, 1880-June 1910. Includes a scattering of Probate: Second Series and Criminal cases that were overlooked at the time of the retroactive creation of a separate series for each in 1893 and 1887 respectively): 3543 archival boxes (with gaps; 1880-1910)
    • Los Angeles Superior Court – Probate: Second Series: 230 archival boxes, case #12- 18903 (with gaps; 1880-1892). Note that these case numbers were assigned when the cases were part of the Superior Court, Civil, series, and were not changed when the cases were removed in 1893 to create this artificial series.
    • Los Angeles Superior Court – Probate: Current: 283 archival boxes, case #167-4004 (with gaps; 1893-1900)
    • Items removed from the various series for conservation or rehousing: 62 archival boxes
    NOTE: The criminal cases from the Los Angeles County Justices Court after 1880 (to 1895) are combined with criminal cases from the criminal courts of the first era, 1851-1879 to create one series with thirty-four boxes.
    After 1996, additional material was subsequently transferred to the Huntington, notably in May and September 2002. The transferred volumes have been integrated into the “First Era” of this listing. The case files usually are listed at the end of the entry for each court jurisdiction.
    Beginning in 2008 and 2014 [consisting chiefly of ledgers], the Court initiated a major addition to the collection, constituting the “Second Era” below, by placing on long-term deposit the surviving case files and supporting materials of the Superior Court itself: Civil series (1880-June 30, 1910); Probate: Second Series (1880-1892); Probate: Current (1893-1900). In addition, volumes from the Justice courts in the townships of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been included along with some miscellaneous volumes listed at the end of the main text of the finding aid.

    Related Material

    Richard Courtney Collection, Huntington Library (unprocessed collection)
    There are an additional 8 archival boxes of Criminal and Probate series material at the Seaver Center, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, in its collection no. 1164, Alcalde/ Los Angeles County Court Records (1830-1863). This material also has been noted within this finding aid as Related Material notes.
    In addition, there are related civil and criminal registers from the Downey Judicial District, 1871-1894, at the Downey Historical Society (http://downeyhistoricalsociety.org/projects.htm ).

    Historical Note

    The California Judiciary Act of 1851 established a court system that consisted of District, County, and Justice of the Peace courts. Los Angeles was a part of a district that also included San Bernardino and San Diego Counties. District courts had jurisdiction in civil cases where the disputed value exceed two hundred dollars, criminal cases, and probate disputes. The State Constitution 1879 replaced the district system with Supreme Court, District Courts of Appeal, and Superior Courts established for each county in the state. Justices of the peace and county justices served in different city and county courts, including Justices courts and county courts.

    Scope and Content

    A collection of historical cases that the Los Angeles Superior Court placed on long-term deposit at the Huntington Library in 1996. Additional material was subsequently transferred to the Huntington in 2002 and interfiled with the main collection. In 2008, the Court made a major addition to the collection by placing on long-term deposit the surviving case files and supporting materials of the Superior Court itself for the period 1880-1899, including both the Civil series and the separate "Current" Probate series from its inception in 1893. The collection includes cases filed in the 1st and 17th District Court of California Los Angeles County Court, Los Angeles Probate Court, Los Angeles criminal, Los Angeles Justices Court, and Superior and Probate Courts both civil and probate.;1st/17th District Court of California: civil cases case # 1-5431, with gaps Mar. 1851-1879, also plaintiff and defendant indices registers of actions judgment books 1875-1879, judgment dockets 1876 - 1879, minute books (1860-1879), judgment books (1854-1877), and miscellaneous records.
    To find the case number for cases filed before February 1, 1901, one can use the plaintiff- defendant database available online through the Huntington Digital Library.   This database includes only case files that are physically located at the Huntington Library. A significant number of case files have not survived and are not in the database. For the case numbers of later case, one needs to consult the appropriate index volumes. Once one has the case number, the case can be ordered for review through the Ahmanson Reading Room.
    The series are open to the general public during regular Huntington business hours on the same basis as when they were kept at the Los Angeles County Archival Center, namely one case file at a time. Scholars approved for manuscript privileges according to normal Huntington screening procedures will have access to the case file. Photocopies are available at rates equal to or less than current comparable rates at the Los Angeles County Archival Center. In some cases, the fragile condition of individual items may necessitate prior conservation work and/or reproduction by photography rather than by photocopying/flat bed scanning. Some of these were removed during the inventory process and placed in a separate “Items Removed” series, itemized in the Appendix to this finding aid. In addition, several series of volumes of indices, registers, judgment books, etc., far from complete but all that survive, are also available to all.
    Note: Some case files may be incomplete.
    Note: Materials received in 2014, chiefly consisting of ledgers, are currently not available for paging due to conservation issues.

    Arrangement

    Organized in the following manner:
    • First era
      • 1. 1st/17th District Court of California, Civil (214 boxes)
      • 2. Los Angeles County Court, Civil (35 boxes)
      • 3. Los Angeles County Probate Court: First Series (56 boxes)
      • 4. Los Angeles County Criminal (28 boxes).
      • NOTE: The criminal cases from the Los Angeles County Justices Court after 1880 (to 1895) are combined with criminal cases from the criminal courts of the first era, 1851-1879 to create one series with thirty-four boxes.
      • 5. Los Angeles County Court of Sessions (volumes only)
      • 6. Los Angeles County Justices Court, Civil (2 boxes)
      • 7. Los Angeles County Justices Court, Criminal (6 boxes). NOTE: The criminal cases from the Los Angeles County Justices Court after 1880 (to 1895) are combined with criminal cases from the criminal courts of the first era, 1851-1879 to create one series, with thirty-four boxes, for all criminal records.
    • Second era
      • 1. Superior Court, Civil (3,541 boxes)
      • 2. Superior Court, Probate: Second Series (240 boxes)
      • Superior Court, Probate: Current Series (284 boxes)
    • Items removed from various series (41 boxes)
    In addition, there are volumes from: 1. Los Angeles Township; 2. Long Beach Township; 3. Los Angeles County: miscellaneous; Los Angeles City: Police Court).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    California. Superior Court (Los Angeles County).
    Courts -- California -- Los Angeles County -- History -- Sources.
    Justice, Administration of, -- California -- Los Angeles County -- History -- Sources.
    California, Southern -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Los Angeles County (Calif.) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.

    Forms/Genres

    Judicial records -- California -- 19th century.
    Finding aids.

    Additional Contributors

    California. District Court (1st Judicial District)
    California. District Court (17th Judicial District)
    Los Angeles County (Calif.)