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Court Records, 1684-1966 

Indictments, case files, docket books.

The Municipal Archives has the most comprehensive collection of records pertaining to the administration of criminal justice in the English-speaking world. There is a record, at least in summary form, of every felony prosecution in Manhattan from 1684 through the 1960s. For the period after 1790, there are indictment papers and case files for every felony prosecution. Every misdemeanor and violation is recorded in docket books that date back to 1800. See also District Attorney records.

The major series are:

  • Minutes of the Court of General Sessions, 1684-1920
  • Felony (a.k.a. New York District Attorney) indictments, 1790-1895
  • Dismissed felony indictments, 1844-1900
  • Police and Magistrate Court docket books (all Boroughs), 1790-1949
  • Court of Special Sessions, calendar of prisoners, 1829-1839
  • Kings County Criminal Court indictment records 1894-1965 (with gaps)
  • Kings County Special Sessions (Bastardy proceedings) 1926-1936
  • Richmond County Special Sessions (Bastardy proceedings) 1899-1939
  • Kings County "Papers in Suits" (papers related to civil actions) 1847-1873
  • New York County Surrogate's Court, estate inventories 1780s-1850s
  • New York County insolvent assignments (bankruptcy), 1800-1830.

Also see the New York County Court of General Sessions Grand Jury Indictments, 1879-1893


Most court records are arranged chronologically. Each volume of the Minutes of the Court of General Sessions is self-indexed by name of defendant. The Municipal Archives created a database of General Sessions indictment files 1879-1893; it can be searched by name or crime. The New York County District Attorney Record of Cases, 1895-1970s, is an alphabetical list of defendants that can be used to locate case files for that period (see District Attorney Records). The estate inventories are arranged alphabetically and there is a two-volume name index to the insolvent assignments. With major assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Municipal Archives has microfilmed most of the eighteenth and nineteenth century criminal court records.