County Records Box Lists

A selection of county records container lists are available in PDF format. As records series are arranged and described, additional container lists will become available on this page.

Have you found an item in a container list that you would like to see? You can visit the State Archives in person to do further research or order copies online.

Tab/Accordion Items

Civil Action files contain records pertaining to court proceedings involving a personal dispute between a plaintiff and a defendant or  those involving an individual’s application to the court. Some civil action suits are maintained separately as their own category, such as Divorces and Civil Actions Pertaining to Land.

Coroners' Inquests are records of coroners’ investigations into deaths, especially those that were sudden or could result in court cases. They often include not only the coroner’s statements but also those of witnesses, relatives, family and medical professionals.  The earliest Coroner’s Inquests are located in the Secretary of State Papers. 

Criminal Action files contain records pertaining to court proceedings prosecuted by the State and involve violations of the law such as murder, riot, burglary, larceny, forgery and others. They are categorized as felonies or misdemeanors depending on their severity.

CRX records are any county records that have been out of the legitimate chain of custody before being incorporated into the State Archive.  The Archive will not certify these records; however, this is not a judgment of their informational or historical validity, but a condition of their legal integrity.

Since 1835, divorces are filed as civil suits in the county superior courts of North Carolina. Divorces may be included in Civil Action files for some counties. Prior to 1835, the power to dissolve a marriage rested in the General Assembly and these records are maintained in the Legislative Papers.

Guardian records are records surrounding the appointment and legal administrations of a guardian of an individual, most often a minor, who has inherited property but is unable to handle it due to age or infirmity. In the case of orphaned children, these records are often included in Estates. 

Inheritance Tax records are twentieth-century records of settlements of tax assessed on estates worth more than $2,000. They include the name of the deceased and administrator or executor, approximate valuation of estate, and the heir or devisees. Loose papers concerning inheritance tax are also filed in Estates for many counties. 

In 1868, North Carolina transferred the power to issue marriage licenses to the county register of deeds making the license the only public record of a marriage. The information contained in marriage licenses varies across counties and time periods, and though the amount of information has increased over the years, the accuracy was dependent on the person applying for the license. Though some licenses were issued earlier, prior to 1868 the only required public record of marriage was the Marriage Bond, which is its own category and has a statewide index available at the Archive.

Miscellaneous Records contains a variety of records including those that do not fall easily into the main record categories as well as those that were in too small of a quantity to be catalogued separately. Examples are records of slaves and free persons of color; bills of sale; promissory notes; canal and drainage records; shipping and fishing records; mill records; mining records; timber records; powers of attorney; grand jury records; and witness tickets. Many box and volume titles may be unique to one or two counties.

Widows' Year’s Support files contain records relating to the apportionment of widows’ dower rights in the real property of her deceased husband, and the allocation of a sufficiency of provisions to enable her to support herself and family during the first year after his death, while the estate was being settled.  North Carolina abolished the dower in 1960. In some counties these records are maintained in Estates or Special Proceedings.

Since 1760, original wills were under the jurisdiction of the county in which it was probated. Prior to 1760, wills were filed with the Secretary of State and are maintained with these records.  When an individual died without a will, the probate of their estate is maintained in separate Estate files.