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Making Court Records Extracts
Extracts consist of information gleaned from records. Information gleaned includes:


The primary rule for making extracts is to use only data contained in a record -- guessing ("filling in the blanks") is not permitted. Consequently, if a record identifies "Jno. Smith" then the extract contains "Jno. Smith", not "John Smith" or "Jonathan Smith". Missing data is indicated by "[?]". Editorial comments are enclosed in square brackets - for example, "[torn]".

A record extract may contain a summation of bits of data brought together in a single statement. For example, a record stating in one document that William Smith's wife was Elizabeth and in another that William Smith was John Jones' son-in-law would result in an extract entry stating that "William Smith -mr- Elizabeth Jones, daughter of John Jones". Other extracting considerations are addressed in Frequently Asked Questions.


A Record Title is taken from the name of a record as written with the docket / recording information. Examples of Record Titles are "Smith vs Jones" and "Jones ads Smith".

A Record Type places a record in context. Historic Court Records extracts use codes to define record context. Samples of context are Superior Court of Chancery, Apprenticeship, Inquest and Military Papers.

An Ending / recording Year is taken from the docket / recording data within a record or from the year of the most recent document if docket / recording data is not available. All Historic Court Records are filed within their collections by ended / recorded year.

Filing Years are noted because the 1916 "Embrey Index" to records contained in Woodruff Files was organized by filing year and there are many outstanding citations related to this old index.

A unique Record ID is assigned each record. A unique ID is constructed from the number of the Woodruff File from which the record was removed (and to which the "Embrey Index" referred) and a serial number assigned to each record within a Woodruff File.

Primary parties are the names of people intimately involved in a record. Historic Court Records extracts note full names. Following each name is additional information (in parentheses) such as (age), (status), (alias) or (aka). Some examples of primary parties are:
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  • court actions - Plaintiffs / Defendants
  • land records - Grantor / Grantee
  • wills - Decedent / Heirs
  • apprenticeship indentures - Apprentice / Master

Other names are people providing significant support in a record. Some examples of "other names":
  • Deponents / Affiants - give depositions or providing affidavits in court actions.
  • Witnesses to Last Will and Testaments

Localities mentioned in records are noted as follows:
  • Virginia County - county name
    • Example: Spotsylvania Co.
  • Virginia County with locality - county name + (locality name)
    • Example: Caroline Co. (Port Royal)
  • Virginia City having same-name county - name of city + "City"
    • Example: Richmond City
  • Virginia City having no same-name county - city name
    • Example: Fredericksburg
  • US state, not Virginia - 2 character state postal code
    • Example: NY
  • US state, not Virginia, with county / city - 2 character state postal code + (city/county name)
    • Example: NY (New York)
  • non-US country - country name
    • Example: Scotland
  • non-US country with city / county / shire - country name + (city/county/shire name)
    • Example: Scotland (Glasgow)


Shorthand notations used in forming "Extracts" are:

 Shorthand  Meaning
 @ original document
 admr. administrator
admrx. administratix
ads adverse
decd. deceased
exor. executor
extrx. executrix
FM Free Mulatto
FN Free Negro
gdn guardian
GO guardian of
-m- marriage documented in a record (e.g. copy of marriage license included)
-mr- marriage referenced in a record
-xmr- multiple marriage for a man referenced in a record where "x' is a number indicating which marriage
-mrx- multiple marriage for a woman referenced in a record where "x' is a number indicating which marriage
-xmrx- multiple marriage for both man and woman referenced in a record where "x" is a number indicating which marriage
OOP Overseers of the Poor
pd defending attorney
pq prosecuting attorney
ref. referenced
vs versus


Comments contain editorial comments about records.  Such comments may reflect the absence of certain documents or, in criminal actions, charge(s) against defendants.



Disclaimer: Data provided by Historic Court Records is not official and is provided by the Historic Court Records site for genealogical and historical research purposes only. All data contained herein should be verified by obtaining a copy of the original record.