Guide to Federal Court Records
The Comprehensive Guide to Federal Court Records is available online, and it is based on the paper copy authored by Robert B. Matchette et al. in 1995. It contains the national repository location and type (paper, microfilm, photos, recordings and machine-readable publications) of all the historical, government documents kept track of by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
This extensive guide includes documents from each branch of the government, legislative, executive, and judicial. Each government agency has a chapter, keeping it organized and easy to locate. Each section includes a brief history; a summary and a list of the archival documents associated with the item, as well as any notes.
The online, searchable version is a powerful tool for historical researchers or students, and it is easy to use and find documents you need, plus information about the origins of the material.
For example, if you wanted to find out more about the Constitution of the United States, you can search for it using only the word "Constitution." Upon completing a search, the tool serves up a list of results. From here you can pick which one best matches your inquiry. After selecting your choice, you are brought to a page listing dozens of linked records and historical timelines. This research tool allows you to find out anything or locate any record related to government documents and archives.
NARA keeps the online version fully updated with the most recent versions of all archives. It is the most extensive and most complete compilation of national federal files anywhere.
A neat feature about this online resource is there are pages of statistics of holdings, providing how many records and related documents exist in the database. It also includes donated materials as well. There is a vast repository of donated items, which have been gifted to NARA as they relate to other federal documents. In an attempt to keep complete and thorough records, NARA groups all elements together in an alphabetical list.
There are two ways to browse the donated material archives via the alphabetical list and the statistical list. The alphabetical list contains the title and benefactor’s information. They are grouped by like records and types. You can even search for a donated item by using the donator’s name.
Within the National Archives website, there is a sidebar with some handy links. One of them takes you to the Record Group Clusters and Locations area. This section allows you to find federal records and documents from a variety of departments, designations, government branch, and interest group topics. When clicking on one of these topics, you are provided with the building, cluster, and the record title so you can search for records that way.
There are many ways in which you might use this tool and a variety of search and results options. There are also help and explanation pages to make sure you get the most out of your time spent researching.