Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, April 22, 2016

Supreme Court records now available for online ordering

The Tennessee State Library & Archives recently launched a new online ordering system for Supreme Court cases.

Located at supreme-court-cases.tennsos.org, the new system will allow researchers to request cases dating back to the early 1800s in hard copy or digital scans.

It also allows searching the cases for names of ancestors as well as topics ranging from mining to murder. The online system was designed to create an easier and more direct way for researchers from around the world to order these historical records, formerly available only by visiting Nashville.

Once stored in the attic of the Tennessee State Capitol building, the Supreme Court records came to the Library & Archives in dire need of restoration. Curled and brittle, covered in coal dust from the furnace pipes that fed into the Capitol’s storage space, the records were all but unusable. The Library & Archives’ archival technical staff worked tirelessly toward the preservation of these records for more than a decade. Staff members meticulously cleaned off the dust and grime, and carefully flattened and recorded the contents for more than 50,000 cases. The archivists will continue this project indefinitely, as there are well over 10,000 boxes of material in storage.

“One of our goals in the Department of State is to improve public access to important government records,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Making it possible for people to order records online is one way we are able to accomplish that goal. I want to thank the members of the Library & Archives staff, who have worked tirelessly to restore those Supreme Court records and make them available online.”

Supreme Court records provide a wealth of information of benefit to professional and amateur historians. The stories that unfold in the pages of each case are windows to personal and community life and family relationships from the past. One can find cases concerning land issues, debt, slavery, estate disputes, criminal cases, and more.

Cases currently housed at the Library & Archives range from the beginning of the 19th Century to around 1950. They vary in size, from brief records to complete transcripts of all proceedings, which can be hundreds of pages long. Some of these cases include exhibits, such as textiles, photographs, and maps.

Source: The Tennessee State Library & Archives