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New York StateUnified Court System

Special Projects


Inventory of Early Manhattan Court Records of Statewide Significance

In January 2017, the Unified Court System transferred 1500 cubic feet of early court records held by the New York County Clerk to the New York State Archives. These records were created by courts of statewide jurisdiction based in Manhattan, primarily the Supreme Court of Judicature and the Court of Chancery. This transfer will help protect these important records from further degradation and increase public access to these records.

This transfer was documented via a large inventory project that identified records of statewide courts held by the New York County Clerk, ensured they were in good order, and described their contents in detail. The Unified Court System's Office of Records Management is now conducting an inventory of those records of New York City courts, and we will upload information on that phase of the project once it comes to an end.

Inventory Results

The document below is a PDF version of the 510-page inventory of those court records the Unified Court System transferred to the New York State Archives. It includes a history of the early courts, a description of the management of the records over the course of four separate centuries, an accounting of related records held in other repositories, and detailed appendices that provide contextual information to help users understand the records better.

This inventory is still being updated, so more complete versions will be uploaded here in the future.

For access to these records, contact the New York State Archives.

 
Access the Inventory of These Records

 


 

Media Attention

The transfer of these records and the underlying inventory project were the subject of a number of pieces in conventional and online media, including the following.

Print Media

New York Times (5 January 2017)
Centuries of New York History Prepare for a Move
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/nyregion/new-york-documents-archives-records.html

Albany Times Union
Hamilton, Melville, N.Y. giants in old court records arrived in Albany (22 January 2017)
http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-local/article/Hamilton-Melville-N-Y-giants-in-old-court-10875994.php

Broadcast News and Online Video

WNBC (New York City)
New York Archivists Carefully Move Ancient Records (5 January 2017)
http://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Preserving-NYC_s-Past_New-York-409830055.html

FOX 5 (WNYW, New York City)
NY Archives to receive historic Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr documents (5 January 2017)
http://www.fox5ny.com/news/local-news/227316537-story

Time Warner Cable News (Hudson Valley)
Albany Archives: New York's Beginnings, Now in Albany, Shine Light on American Legends (4 February 2017)
http://www.twcnews.com/nys/hudson-valley/albany-archives/2017/02/3/new-york-history-documents-moved-to-albany.html

Globo (Brazil)
Arquivos da Justiça de Nova York revelam histórias surpreendentes da cidade (in Portuguese, 7 February 2017)
[New York court archives reveal surprising stories of the city]
https://globoplay.globo.com/v/5633239/

Circa News
Aaron Burr never knew he was divorced, but this court archivist did. And so much more (18 March 2017) 
http://circa.com/lifestyle/meet-the-archivist-who-handles-court-records-from-alexander-hamilton-to-mae-west

Articles by the Office of Records Management

Geof Huth, Chief Records Officer of the Unified Court System and the principal in this project, wrote the following two articles on this project.

Society of American Archivists' Newsletter Archival Outlook
Finding Archives (Mar/Apr 2017)
http://www.bluetoad.com/publication/?i=390625#{"issue_id":390625,"page":4}

Historical Society of the New York Courts Weblog
The Continuing and Permanent Record of the Courts—Part 1 (15 March 2017)
https://nylegalhistory.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/the-continuing-and-permanent-record-of-the-courts-part-1/

The Continuing and Permanent Record of the Courts–Part 2 (29 March 2017)

https://nylegalhistory.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/the-continuing-and-permanent-record-of-the-courts-part-2/