City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Louisiana. Civil District Court (Orleans Parish).
Records, 1880-1967 [bulk, 1880-1927]


Acquisition:   Deposited by Civil District Court, 1974 and later
Terms of Access:   Unmicrofilmed records are available in-house to registered researchers. Microfilmed records are available in the Louisiana Division/City Archives, and can also be ordered from any Mormon Family History Center.


Historical Background

The Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans was created by the Louisiana Constitution of 1879 and began deliberations in the following year. It was to have no fewer than five judges (men who were learned in the law and who had been practicing for five years previously) who were appointed by the Governor for eight year terms (initially, three judges were appointed for four years and two for eight years). The Constitution empowered the Legislature to increase the number of judges to a maximum of nine.

The Court had exclusive and general probate jurisdiction and exclusive civil jurisdiction in all causes where the amount in dispute or to be distributed exceeded one hundred dollars, exclusive of interest. All suits pending before the previously existing civil courts were transferred to the new entity and given new docket numbers.

In addition to the judges, Civil District Court was to have one clerk (who also served ex-officio as clerk of the Court of Appeals for Orleans Parish), elected by the qualified voters of the parish for a term of four years. Each of the judges was further empowered to appoint a minute clerk. The Legislature subsequently, in 1880, specified the duties of the minute clerks as "to keep the minutes of the court, issue all notices, copies of rules and orders entered on the minutes and to make docket entries for the causes and proceedings of the court." The Clerk of Civil District Court appointed, with the consent of the judges, "such deputies as may be necessary to perform efficiently the duties of said office."

The Constitution also provided for election, for a four-year term, of a Civil Sheriff for the parish. That individual (a citizen of Louisiana, resident and voter of New Orleans, and at least twenty-five years old) served as executive officer of the Court, attended its sittings, and executed its writs and mandates.

The Constitution of 1898 provided that the Court's judges be elected by a plurality of the qualified electors of the Parish of Orleans for the term of twelve years. It further specified the jurisdiction of the Court to include "...suits by married women for separation of property, in suits for separation from bed and board, for divorce, for nullity of marriage, or for interdiction, and in suits involving title to immovable property, or to office or other public position, or civil or political rights; and in all other cases, except as herein- after provided, where no specific amount is in contest, and of all proceedings for the appointment of receivers or liquidators to corporations or partnerships." In addition, the new Constitution gave the court authority to issue "all such writs, process and orders as may be necessary or proper for the purposes of the jurisdiction herein conferred upon it."

The 1898 law included additional provisions that had some bearing on the records that the Court produced:

  • Previous to the allotment or assignment of a case, any judge of said court may, for the purposes of such case, make interlocutory orders, and issue and grant conservatory writs and executory process.
  • Applications for naturalization, for emancipation, and by married women for authorization, when there is consent given and no issue joined, or where there is no contest, suits for nullity, and for revival of judgment, and suits in which is claimed an interest in property or funds as to which a particular judge has acquired jurisdiction, need not be allotted or especially assigned, but shall be controlled by law or by rules to be adopted by the court.
  • Judgments homologating accounts, which have been duly advertised, when not opposed, or so far as not opposed, may be rendered and signed either in term time or vacation; and by any judge, in the absence or disability of the judge to whom the case has been allotted.
  • The judges of said Civil District Court shall be authorized to adopt rules, not in conflict with law, regulating the allotment, assignment and disposition of cases, the order in which they shall be tried, and the proceedings in such trials, and to sit en banc for the purpose of testing the bonds and sureties of the clerk of the court, the recorder of mortgages, the register of conveyances, and the civil sheriff; for the trial and removal of the clerk and civil sheriff, or either of them, for the selection of jurors, and in other cases when the action of the court as a whole is required.
The Constitution of 1921 added two judges to the Court, increasing the number of its Divisions to seven.


Arrangement

The records are arranged in series as follows:


Detailed Description of the Records

Suit Records

VT290
1880-1926

Suit Records, 1880-1927

Manuscript and/or typewritten records of the proceedings in the suits filed before the Civil District Court.

Access to the succession records filed in Civil District Court is through the General Index of all Successions, 1880-1903, compiled by Archives staff and volunteers from the three published indexes covering the period. Access to those records can also be had through the Docket 1 volumes and the indexes thereto. Access to divorce proceedings can be had through the Docket 5 volumes and the indexes thereto. Access to all other suits can be had through the volumes for Docket 2 and Docket 3. Access to all suit records is also possible through the Court's general docket books, which provide the sole access point for Docket 4 suits.

There are approximately 2075 boxes of original suit records, comprising suit #2 (the first record is missing) through #172400 (there are also a few records beyond that number, though not a complete numeric sequence). The Genealogical Society of Utah microfilmed ca. one-third of the suit records (on 349 rolls of 35mm film), generally including those likely to be useful in family history research. As their website puts it, "Selected suits have been microfilmed, including interdictions, divorces, authorizations, separations of bed and board, successions, emancipations, separations of property, and tutorships." Copies of the microfilms are available in house and also through the Mormon Family History Library system.

All filmed records were flattened (having previously been stored in folded bundles) and filed separately from the unfilmed portion. As unfilmed records are used by researchers, they are being flattened and filed in another separate location. The Archives staff maintains several unpublished databases to aid in locating individual suit records. Unmicrofilmed records are available for in-house use only in the Louisiana Division/City Archives. Records that have not yet been flattened will require at least one day of humidification before they can be used, so researchers should plan their time accordingly and request records in advance. Suit records from 1916 and later were never folded--they came to the Archives pre-flattened.

Civil District Court suit records range in size from two or three pages to well over one-thousand pages. The largest of the suit records are filed in several oversize boxes.

For detailed descriptions of a sampling of Civil District Court suit records, see the following:

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Minute Books

  • VT300b
    1880-1914

    Minute books, en banc, 1880-1914
    3 v. [click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Bound volumes in which were recorded the proceedings of sessions with the judges sitting together as one body, usually to consider the non-judicial business of the Court, e.g., fiscal or personnel matters.

  • VTA300
    1880-1920

    Minute books, Division A, 1880-1920
    40 v. [the volumes for the period 1/14/1916-4/7/1919 are missing; click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Bound volumes in which the daily minutes of the proceedings of Division A were entered by the clerk.

  • VTB300
    1880-1908

    Minute books, Division B, 1880-1908
    39 v. [click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Bound volumes in which the daily minutes of the proceedings of Division B were entered by the clerk.

  • VTC300
    1880-1929

    Minute books, Division C, 1880-1920
    39 v. [click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Bound volumes in which the daily minutes of the proceedings of Division C were entered by the clerk.

  • VTD300
    1880-1910

    Minute books, Division D, 1880-1910
    39 v. [click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Bound volumes in which the daily minutes of the proceedings of Division D were entered by the clerk.

  • VTE300
    1880-1918

    Minute books, Division E, 1880-1918
    40 v. [click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Bound volumes in which the daily minutes of the proceedings of Division E were entered by the clerk.

  • VTG300
    1921-1929

    Minute books, Division G, 1921-1929
    1 v.

    Bound volumes in which the daily minutes of the proceedings of Division G were entered by the clerk. Also includes minutes of Special Division of Civil District Court, 12/9/1934-11/20/1935.

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Docket Books

  • VT350
    1880-1923

    General dockets, 1880-1923
    32 v. [the volumes for the period 6/7/1919-12/7/1922 are missing; click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    The general dockets are arranged in numerical order by docket number. Each page is divided into rectangular sections so that one docket entry appears in each section. At the head of each entry is the number of the docket to which he suit was assigned, the division to which it was allotted, suit number, names of the deceased whose succession is being settled, or the names of the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) in the suit for non-succession matters, date of initial filing, the name(s) of the attorney(s) representing the heirs or the parties to the suit, and in some instances a brief note as to the type of suit (and the dollar amount at issue, if appropriate). There is also an index (VT350i 1880-1919 [click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]) to the general dockets, in 32 volumes, covering the period 1880-1919. The indexes were also microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah and are available for in-house use; the microfilm can also be ordered from any Mormon Family History Center.

  • VT350a
    1880-1928

    Docket 1, 1880-1928
    51 v. [microfilm only]

    Section 5 of Act 136 passed in the 1880 Legislative session specified that all successions, emancipations, interdictions, and partitions were to be assigned to docket 1. The GSU microfilmed the Docket 1 books, but the originals were not subsequently deposited in the Archives. The index (VT350ai 1880-1926), in 48 volumes, is also available on microfilm only.

    The volumes are arranged in numerical order by docket number. Each page is divided into rectangular sections so that one docket entry appears in each section. At the head of each entry is the docket number, names of the deceased whose succession is being settled, or the names of the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) in the suit, date of initial filing, the name(s) of the attorney(s) representing the heirs or the parties to the suit and in some instances a brief note as to the type of suit. If there is a Judicial Record Book entry for the suit, there will also be a reference to the JRB volume and page where it can be found. Beneath the heading is a dated list of the actions taken (e.g., petitions, answers, orders, documents filed, copies made, record withdrawn, judgments, etc.), along with the court costs incurred for each action.

  • VT350b
    1880-1919

    Docket 5, 1880-1919
    25 v. [click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Section 5 of Act 136 passed in the 1880 Legislative session specified that all suits for separation & divorce, landlord's writ for possession, mandamus, injunction, habeas corpus, declarations of domicile, and all other matters in which no money demand is involved were to be assigned to Docket 5. The GSU also microfilmed 32 volumes of indexes (VT350bi 1880-1924 [click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]) to Docket 5, but the originals were not subsequently deposited in the Archives.

    The volumes are arranged in numerical order by docket number. Each page is divided into rectangular sections so that one docket entry appears in each section. At the head of each entry is the docket number, names of the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) in the suit, date of initial filing, the name(s) of the attorney(s) representing the parties to the suit and in some instances a brief note as to the type of suit. If there is a Judicial Record Book entry for the suit, there will also be a reference to the JRB volume and page where it can be found. Beneath the heading is a dated list of the actions taken (e.g., petitions, answers, orders, documents filed, copies made, record withdrawn, judgments, etc.), along with the court costs incurred for each action.

  • VT350c
    1880-1916

    Docket 2, 1880-1916
    9 v. [click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Section 5 of Act 136 passed in the 1880 Legislative session specified that all suits involving $200 or less were to be assigned to Docket 2. 10 volumes of indexes (VT350ci 1880-1916 [click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]) are also available.

    The volumes are arranged in numerical order by docket number. Each page is divided into rectangular sections so that one docket entry appears in each section. At the head of each entry is the docket number, names of the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) in the suit, date of initial filing, the name(s) of the attorney(s) representing the parties to the suit and in some instances a brief note as to the type of suit. If there is a Judicial Record Book entry for the suit, there will also be a reference to the JRB volume and page where it can be found. Beneath the heading is a dated list of the actions taken (e.g., petitions, answers, orders, documents filed, copies made, record withdrawn, judgments, etc.), along with the court costs incurred for each action.

  • VT350d
    1880-1908

    Docket 3, 1880-1908
    10 v. [click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Section 5 of Act 136 passed in the 1880 Legislative session specified that all suits involving more than $200 and not more than $1000 were to be assigned to Docket 3. 11 volumes of indexes (VT350di 1880-1915 [click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]) are also available.

    The volumes are arranged in numerical order by docket number. Each page is divided into rectangular sections so that one docket entry appears in each section. At the head of each entry is the docket number, names of the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) in the suit, date of initial filing, the name(s) of the attorney(s) representing the parties to the suit and in some instances a brief note as to the type of suit. If there is a Judicial Record Book entry for the suit, there will also be a reference to the JRB volume and page where it can be found. Beneath the heading is a dated list of the actions taken (e.g., petitions, answers, orders, documents filed, copies made, record withdrawn, judgments, etc.), along with the court costs incurred for each action.

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Judicial Record Books

Bound volumes containing, for certain suits before the Court, copies of various salient documents filed in the suit, including the plaintiff's petition, defendant's answer(s), affidavits, orders, jury verdict (in jury cases), the court's judgment, and the decree of the Supreme Court (if the case went up on appeal) for each suit decided, in the order in which the case became final. Thus, the judicial record books show the essentials of suits filed and decided in Civil District Court. These books are particularly useful if the original suit record is no longer extant.

Each of the Court's divisions kept its own Judicial Record Books as indicated in the listing below. Dates of each volume are approximations, as these records were not kept in strict chronological order. Each volume includes a name index.

  • VTA410
    1880-1921

    Judicial record books, Division A, 1880-1921
    46 v. [v. 1-45 are also available on microfilm; click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

  • VTB410
    1880-1921

    Judicial record books, Division B, 1880-1921
    42 v. [Also available on microfilm; click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

  • VTC410
    1880-1925

    Judicial record books, Division C, 1880-1925
    46 v. [Also available on microfilm (some volumes are available only on microfilm); click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

  • VTD410
    1880-1920

    Judicial record books, Division D, 1880-1920
    41 v. [Also available on microfilm; click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

  • VTE410
    1880-1921

    Judicial record books, Division E, 1880-1921
    37 v. [Also available on microfilm (some volumes are available only on microfilm); click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes; v. 35 is not indexed]

  • VTF410
    1921-1923

    Judicial record books, Division F, 1921-1923
    1 v. [Also available on microfilm]

  • VTG410
    1921-1929

    Judicial record books, Division G, 1921-1929
    1 v. [Also available on microfilm]

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Deed Books

Manuscript or typwritten volumes recording deeds for real property sold by the Sheriff under order of the Civil District Court. Each entry amounts to the Civil Sheriff's proces verbal of the individual sale, including a legal description of the property (including any mortgages outstanding), the name of the parties to the suit effecting the sale, the terms of the sale, and a reference to the Conveyance Office Book and folio where the deed is formally recorded. The volumes are indexed by the surname of the plaintiff in each suit.

  • VT690
    1880-1901
    1928-1929

    Deed books, 1880-1901; 1928-1929
    12 v. [v. 1-11 are available on microfilm only]

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Marriage Records

  • VT650m
    1881-1920

    Certificates of marriage, 1881-1920
    2 v. [v. 2 is available on microfilm only; click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Includes date of marriage, names of bride and groom, their ages and places of birth, the names of their parents, and the signatures of all parties. Marriage licenses and/or other documents are attached to some of the certificates.

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Naturalization Records

Prior to 1906 foreign-born residents were able to become naturalized citizens of the United States through state as well as federal courts. Certificates of naturalization, along with related records, granted by Civil District Court are included in the Archives as follows. All volumes are available on microfilm.

  • VNT 250
    1880-1903

    Oaths of Applicants and Witnesses, 1880-1903

  • VNT320
    1888-1906

    Declarations of Intention, 1888-1906

  • VNT320s
    1880-1903

    Loose Declarations from State Courts, 1880-1903

  • VNT743a
    1879-1906

    Certificates (Majors), 1879-1906

  • VNT743m
    1884-1906

    Certificates (Minors), 1884-1906

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Other Records Filed with the Court

Several series of records not directly related to its judicial activities were filed with the Court, usually as required by Legislative act.

  • VT160j
    1924-1953

    Inventory book to regulate the sale at public auction of jewelry, etc., 1924-1953
    1 v.

    Notarized inventories of jewelry (and sometimes other items) to be sold at public auction. Included among the sellers are several retail jewelry stores. The level of itemization varies. Some inventories include prices for specific items.

  • VT250c
    1913-1948

    Statements of candidates, 1913-1948
    4 v. [Click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Records the candidate's name, office sought, date of election, and a statement of the amounts received and spent by or on behalf of the candidate. Most are very brief lists or mere statements that the candidate had neither received or expended money, but several detailed statements are included. The final volume includes statements that the candidates are qualified to run for office without any mention of campaign receipts or expenditures.

  • VT420e
    1908

    Registry of civil engineers and surveyors, 1908
    1 v.

    Records the number, date, name, age, occupation, and address of each registrant. Revocations are entered in red under individual names. Following the numerical listing are signed forms stating that the individual was practicing his profession prior to passage of Act 308 of 1908 and is applying for registration under the provisions of that act.

  • VT420f
    1912-1944

    Register of representatives of foreign corporations, 1912-1944
    4 v. [Indexed; click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Signed statements, some in the form of letters and some of those on company letterhead, giving the corporation's name and domicile along with the name and address of the person acting as agent and attorney for the firm within the state of Louisiana.

  • VT420m
    1894-1921

    Register of midwives, 1894-1921
    2 v. [Records for the period 4/17/1896-6/13/1921 are missing; click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes v. 2 includes an index]

    Volume 1 is a book of certificates, only the first of which is filled in with the midwife's name and signed by the Secretary of the Board of Health. The remainder of the volume includes copies, six in number, of statements from the State Board of Medical Examiners that the individual is competent and thus granted a cerificate. In volume 3, the certificates are filled in and signed, with additional documentation (suspensions, refusals to renew) attached to some of the documents.

  • VT420n
    1912-1942

    Recordation of registered nurses, 1912-1942
    12 v. [Click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes; indexed]

    Certificates naming individuals "authorized to be known as a Registered Nurse," dated and signed by the President and Secretary of the Louisiana Nurses Board of Examiners.

  • VT520r
    1929-1963

    Bonds for real estate licenses, 1929-1963
    24 v. [Click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes; indexed]

    Records the name of principal, name of surety, amount of the bond, and the date.

  • VT650d
    1882-1916

    Recordation of doctor's certificates, 1882-1916
    3 v. [Records for the period 3/3/1907-6/18/1916 are missing; click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes; v. 1-2 are indexed]

    Copies of certificates showing name, medical school and its location, date of diploma, place of birth, and where practicing medicine. Later books do not include birthplace or location of practice.

  • VT650s
    1920-1964

    Surety companies' certificates of authority, 1920-1964
    9 v. [Click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes; indexed]

    Certificates from the Secretary of State, Insurance Division, that insurance companies (with state of incorporation noted) are authorized to act as surety in Louisiana. Also certificates of authority for agents to act for companies in specified areas of insurance coverage.

  • VT660L
    1915-1944

    Employers' liability agreements, 1915-1944
    18 v. [Click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Records individual agreements between employer and employee (or survivor) for injuries or death suffered while on the job. Specifies injuries, treatment given, and payments made. Click HERE for an index to the liability agreements for workers' deaths.

  • VT660n
    1920-1921

    Proof of employers' liability insurance, 1920-1921
    7 v. [Click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes; v. 7 is an index to v. 1-5]

    Copies of sworn statements by employers that they have provided workmen's compensation insurance as required by law. Some of the insurance companies providing coverage are named in individual statements, but not in most. Addresses of employers are given in most cases.

  • VT840
    1911

    Enumeration of Ex-Confederate Soldiers and Widows of Deceased Soldiers, 1911
    28 v.
    [Click HERE for a description and more.]

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Miscellaneous Records

These miscellaneous volumes were created for the convenience of the court and have little, if any, research value. There should be no information recorded in these volumes that cannot be found in the suit record, the general docket, and/or the minute books.

  • VT250
    1924-1928

    Oaths of tutors, curators, etc., 1924-1928
    1 v. [Indexed]

    Includes suit number, division, docket, title of suit, name(s) and capacity of persons taking oaths, and the date.

  • VT290i
    1880-1915

    Indexes of cases filed, 1880-1915
    4 v. [Click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Alphabetical by first letter of plaintiff/defendant surname and by first vowel thereafter. Includes suit number, names of plaintiff and defendant, docket assigned to, division assigned to, and date filed. The General Docket indexes include essentially the same information and are available on microfilm (these books are not).

  • VT320
    1899

    Petitions for various purposes, 1899
    1 v.

    Mostly dealing with routine matters involving receiverships and the like. In some cases, attachments are referred to in the petition, but are not present.

  • VT332a
    1899-1941

    Publication of administrators and executors in succession cases, 1899-1941
    4 v. [With gaps; click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Newspaper clippings.

  • VT350si
    1936

    Index to general special docket, 1936
    1 v.

    This volume appears to index a series of suits separate and apart from the general docket of the Court, all of which were filed on January 13, 1936. The index, alphabetical to the first letter of the plaintiff/defendant names, includes the suit number, date (January 13), and names of parties to the suit.

  • VT352f
    1880-1923

    Fieri facias (FiFa) books, 1934-1957
    4 v. [Click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Record of writs for the seizure and sale of property to assure payment of a money judgment. Includes suit number, title of suit, judgment rendered (date), amount of judgment, judgment signed (date), date of FiFa, attorney signature(s), and remarks.

  • VT390
    1922-1928

    Stationery supplies, 1922-1928
    1 v.

    Detailed record of stationery supplied to the divisions of the Court and to the Clerk of Court, with dates.

  • VT411t
    n.d.

    Records transferred to Civil District Court from the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth District Courts, n.d.
    1 v. Microfilmed

    Provides the Civil District Court suit number for given suit numbers transferred from the various earlier courts, each of which has its own section of the volume. Also, at the rear of the book, is transfer information for First District Court and the Court of Probates, along with a list of Superior District Court suits that were taken out by named attorneys and not returned.

  • VT415
    1912-1920

    Suits filed without costs and suits filed under Act 156 of 1912, 1912-1920
    1 v. Indexed

    Arranged alphabetically by first letter of the surnames of plaintiffs/defendants. Includes suit number, title, date filed, docket, division, remarks, amount, date paid, and names of the attorneys involved.

  • VT430j
    1910-1916

    Jury book, 1910-1916
    1 v. [Pages 47-96 missing]

    Lists of individuals chosen to serve on juries, including names, addesses (both residences and businesses), and notes as to how the jury notice was served.

  • VT520a
    1880-1967

    Administrators' bonds, 1880-1967
    14 v. [Records for the period 5/11/1935-8/25/1965 are missing; click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes and available indexing]

    Copies of bonds giving names of principal and surety, amount of bond, and date.

  • VT520t
    1907-1934

    Tutors' bonds, 1907-1934
    5 v. [Click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes and available indexing]

    Copies of bonds showing name of principal and surety, amount of bond, conditions (i.e., name of person for whom the tutor is acting), suit number, title of succession, and date. Also included is a statement by the surety of his monetary worth.

  • VT530r
    1913-1918

    Receipts for records withdrawn and returned, 1913-1918
    1 v.

    Includes suit number, title of suit, date withdrawn, name of attorney withdrawing the record, and date returned. Only two pages of the volume were used.

  • VT941
    1849-1958

    Allotment of causes, 1849-1958
    6 v [v. 3 lacking][Records for the period 5/6/1953-5/31/1954 are missing; click HERE for a detailed list of the extant volumes]

    Records the division to which each suit was assigned.

  • VTA354j
    1947-1949

    Judge's docket, Division A, 1947-1949
    1 v.

    Daily record of suits before the judge, including suit number, title, names of attorneys involved, and a brief note of the action taken in the matter. Occasional letters, notes, etc. (including doctor's excuses) are attached.

  • VTA354r
    1942-1946

    Rule docket, Division A, 1942-1946
    1 v.

    Record of the rules to be tried before the Court each day, showing suit number, title, attorneys involved, reference to the rule at issue, and a brief note regarding its disposition.

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we 5/25/2014