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U.S. Court Records Held by the National Archives

For Court Records less than 15 Years Old

Please note: Generally, federal court records less than 15 years old are not held by the National Archives and are still in the possession of individual courts.

To obtain access to those records, researchers must contact the appropriate federal court.

Online access to case and docket information is provided for a fee by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts through PACER. The court may refer you to a Federal Records Center to obtain copies.

Locate and Order court records in the Federal Records Centers

Records of the U.S. federal courts held at the National Archives include records created by:

  • district courts
  • circuit courts
  • courts of appeal
  • Supreme Court

The types of records are primarily case files. Categories of case files include:

  • civil
  • admiralty
  • equity
  • law
  • criminal
  • bankruptcy cases

In addition to case files, other type of records are:

  • dockets
  • transcripts
  • minutes
  • administrative files
  • execution books
  • order books
  • rule books
  • final record books

The earliest court records in our holdings date to approximately 1790.

Finding Federal Court Records Held by the National Archives

To identify and locate court records held by the National Archives, consult the National Archives Catalog.

For convenience of access, most of our holdings from the federal court system are stored at National Archives locations around the country. For instance, records of the New Hampshire federal courts are currently located at the National Archives at Boston in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Records of federal district courts and courts of appeal in different states are located at the following National Archives locations:

StateLocation of Records
AlabamaNational Archives at Atlanta
AlaskaNational Archives at Seattle
ArizonaNational Archives at Riverside
ArkansasNational Archives at Fort Worth
California (Northern)National Archives at San Francisco
California (Southern)National Archives at Riverside
ColoradoNational Archives at Denver
ConnecticutNational Archives at Boston
DelawareNational Archives at Philadelphia
District of ColumbiaNational Archives at Washington, D.C.
FloridaNational Archives at Atlanta
GeorgiaNational Archives at Atlanta
GuamNational Archives at San Francisco
HawaiiNational Archives at San Francisco
IdahoNational Archives at Seattle
IllinoisNational Archives at Chicago
IndianaNational Archives at Chicago
IowaNational Archives at Kansas City
KansasNational Archives at Kansas City
KentuckyNational Archives at Atlanta
LouisianaNational Archives at Fort Worth
MaineNational Archives at Boston
MarylandNational Archives at Philadelphia
MassachusettsNational Archives at Boston
MichiganNational Archives at Chicago
MinneapolisNational Archives at Chicago
MississippiNational Archives at Atlanta
MissouriNational Archives at Kansas City
Montana (Early case files)National Archives at Seattle
MontanaNational Archives at Denver
NebraskaNational Archives at Kansas City
Nevada (Las Vegas)National Archives at Riverside
Nevada (except Las Vegas)National Archives at San Francisco
New HampshireNational Archives at Boston
New JerseyNational Archives at New York City
New MexicoNational Archives at Denver
New YorkNational Archives at New York City
North CarolinaNational Archives at Atlanta
North DakotaNational Archives at Denver
Northern Mariana IslandsNational Archives at San Francisco
OhioNational Archives at Chicago
OklahomaNational Archives at Fort Worth
OregonNational Archives at Seattle
PennsylvaniaNational Archives at Philadelphia
Puerto RicoNational Archives at New York City
Rhode IslandNational Archives at Boston
South CarolinaNational Archives at Atlanta
South DakotaNational Archives at Denver
TexasNational Archives at Fort Worth
Utah (& Territory of Utah)National Archives at Denver
VermontNational Archives at Boston
Virgin IslandsNational Archives at New York City
VirginiaNational Archives at Philadelphia
WashingtonNational Archives at Seattle
West VirginiaNational Archives at Philadelphia
Wisconsin (& Territorial Court of Wisconsin)National Archives at Chicago
WyomingNational Archives at Denver

Records of Courts of Appeal are stored at these locations:

CourtLocation of Records
First Circuit Court of AppealsNational Archives at Boston
Second Circuit Court of AppealsNational Archives at New York City
Third Circuit Court of AppealsNational Archives at Philadelphia
Fourth Circuit Court of AppealNational Archives at Philadelphia
Fifth Circuit Court of AppealsNational Archives at Fort Worth
Sixth Circuit Court of AppealNational Archives at Chicago
Seventh Circuit Court of AppealNational Archives at Chicago
Eighth Circuit Court of AppealsNational Archives at Kansas City
Ninth Circuit Court of AppealsNational Archives at San Francisco
Tenth Circuit Court of AppealsNational Archives at Denver
Eleventh Circuit Court of AppealsNational Archives at Atlanta

Records of the Supreme Court are located at the National Archives at Washington, DC, with the exception of some special media materials and Watergate files which are at the National Archives at College Park.

An exception to the national distribution of court records is when certain holdings that are infrequently used may be centrally stored at a National Archives facility in Kansas for efficiency. In those instances copies may be ordered, or may be consulted at the National Archives at Kansas City by special arrangement. Whenever this applies to records this information is noted in the National Archives Catalog.

Additional Resources

For more information about the history and organization of the federal courts, see:

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272