This is a part two in a three part series.
Federal Court indexes provide an important stepping stone for researching court records. Indexes link the case file number to a party name(s). The information on an index varies by filing type (e.g., civil, criminal, naturalization, bankruptcy), court location, and time period.
See Case File Indexes Created by the Federal Courts: Introduction (Part 1 of 3) to learn more about these records and how to search for them in the National Archives Catalog (NAC).
Let’s look at a couple of index examples from the Federal District Courts. Indexes can include unexpected research clues and point to where to look next.
Example #1: U.S. District Court, Civil Index
Index card for civil case 3449 Angelo Delfino ads USA
(ads - ad sectam (Latin), like v. in cases, except the defendant is listed first)
Index card for civil case H79-549 Anthony Del Grosso, et al v. Johns-Manville Corp., et al
These are two examples of civil index cards from the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut (National Archives Identifier 134379567). Del Grosso’s case file number H79-549 includes several covert details: the filing year, 1979; and the location of filing as Hartford designated by the “H” preceding the number.
Example #2: U.S. District Court, Criminal Index
Index card for Richard J. Mylette
Cases filed in 1930
Index card for My Own Quality Bakery. Inc.
Case filed in 1958
These are two examples of criminal case file index cards from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (National Archives Identifier 118967991). Mylette had three criminal cases, all filed in sequence: 9418-9420. There were several other cards with the Mylette surname.
Example #3: U.S. District Court, Naturalization Index
Although naturalization indexes were maintained by the Federal Courts, the records indexed could be from local, state, or Federal courts. Researchers may need to inquire outside of NARA to locate the declaration of intention and the naturalization petition. The details on naturalization index cards orient researchers where to look next.
Front of naturalization card for Fred Hund
Back of naturalization card for Fred Hund
This is an example of a naturalization index card from the U.S. District Court for the Omaha Division of the District of Nebraska (National Archives Identifier 148523642) for an individual who did not complete the process in a Federal Court. According to the information on Hund’s index card, the Buffalo County District Court approved his petition for naturalization. Likewise, his declaration of intention was submitted and approved by the Cass County District Court. The naturalization petition and declaration of intention are not available through NARA because county courts are not Federal Courts.
Example #4: U.S. District Court, Bankruptcy Act of 1898 Index
Caption: Index card for bankruptcy case 59611 in the matter of A.E. Sardello Co. filed on September, 17, 1936.
This is an example of a Bankruptcy Act of 1898 Case File from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (National Archives Identifier 120147886). It also includes an individual’s name!
Be sure to check out part 3 of this series, featuring index examples: Case File Indexes Created by the Federal Courts: Digitized and Digital Indexes (Part 3 of 3)