Before visiting a courthouse, it is a good idea to do some planning.  Here are some things that may be good to know about before your visit:

  • check out the wiki of the county at
  • what office are at the courthouse? are there other county offices located off-site?
  • what are the hours of operation of the courthouse, and for what days of the week?
  • is the courthouse closed for lunch?
  • is it permissible to bring a scanner or phone (for photos) with you?
  • can copies be made of records, and if so, what are the charges?
  • if traveling a distance, where will you spend the night?
  • is it possible to contact someone for assistance before your visit?


Last year, I visited several counties in New York.  My ancestor’s family had resided in the area for several generations.  Before visiting, I contacted people at courthouses, historical societies, and libraries.  And, I created maps so that driving between various counties would be easier (GPS was not always available).  There were even some people who pulled records ahead of time so that I would not have to wait for records to be pulled!

A little planning makes a big difference!