Back in April 2005, former archives volunteer Patsy Castro Ludwig urged me to “do something” about the extensive collection of case files from the Santa Clara County Courts that filled some 200 bankers boxes in our Collection Center. When I looked into it, I found that one of my predecessors had actually started a database to index these items, but hadn't gotten very far into the project.
I did a random sampling of these boxes, and quickly learned that:
- Many of the boxes were overly full
- Most of the case files were not separated from one another
- There was no apparent organization scheme from one box to the next
- There were approximately 25,000 cases, both civil and criminal, beginning in 1850 and running into the early 1940’s, with the bulk of them from 1850 to 1915.
In addition to Joan Helms and Patsy Ludwig Castro, five other volunteers have contributed to this massive effort: Nadine Nelson, Ed Linggi, Sally Stallard, Michael McCleary, and Gloria Moseley.
The index that we have created allows a researcher to search by plaintiff’s or defendant’s name, the case number or date of the court proceeding, details of the type of crime, and the final judgment of the court (when noted) .
Anyone wishing to make an appointment to research these materials can email firstname.lastname@example.org.