2 Replies Latest reply on Oct 12, 2017 1:01 PM by Channing Joseph

    Guidance on Police Court Records?


      Does anyone know if there is a centralized source for information about trials held at the Police Court of the District Columbia between 1870 and 1909 or so? Newspapers such as The Washington Post and The Evening Star often have short summaries of the interesting cases, but I am not sure where to find more official information about specific cases, plaintiffs, defendants, decisions, and so on. Are the records of the trials available on microfilm somewhere?

        • Re: Guidance on Police Court Records?
          Research Services at the National Archives Tracker

          Mr. Joseph,


          Thank you contacting History Hub. The National Archives and Records Administration has as part of its holdings Record Group 351 – Records of the Government of the District of Columbia. This record group contains general records, records on fiscal affairs, construction and transportation, etc. dealing with the operations of the District between 1791 and 1978.


          The NARA online catalog has 23 results for series relating to the Metropolitan Police within these records, which can found by following this link. While we did not find records relating to the Police Court, other records might be useful to you. Some of the series include:


          Blotters: This series consists of records from several entities within the police department. Volumes dated before the 1930s usually give a detailed chronological account of the activities of the force, including rollcalls, assignments, reports of crimes, complaints, arrests, investigations, recoveries of lost or stolen property, and other information.


          Reports of Offenses Against Persons or Property: This series is an account of complaints and arrests by an unidentified precinct. Entries give a detailed summary of the complaint or circumstances leading to the arrest; the nature of the crime; and notations regarding the disposition of the case, the recovery of stolen property, and other pertinent information.


          Daily Returns of Precincts: This series consist of daily sergeants’ reports of arrests. Individual entries give the name of the person arrested; time of arrest; arrestee's age, race, nationality, occupation, marital status, and literacy; nature and disposition of the complaint; and the name of the complainant.


          Arrest Books: This series lists arrests by the Third Precinct. Entries usually give the date and time of arrest; name, age, race, nationality, occupation, marital status, and literacy of the person arrested; complaint; name of complainant; name of arresting officer; and disposition of the case.


          For further information about accessing these records, please contact archves1reference@nara.gov.


          We hope this information can be of use to you in your research. Again, thank you for contacting History Hub!

          Compiled by Christopher Burroughs


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