Do You Have a Criminal in Your Family Tree?
Discovered that your ancestor has disappeared from public records for a period of time? Wonder why your family doesn’t want to talk about a certain ancestor’s past? If you’ve heard stories or rumors in your family about an ancestor’s criminal activities, you may want to investigate those claims further by finding documentation. Criminal records make a fascinating resource for genealogical information.
What types of criminal records are there?
- Police report/arrest records
- Court records
- Probation records
- Execution records
- Prison records
What type of information will you find?
- Full name
- Birth date
- Place of residence
- Photo/Mug shot
- Description of the crime/charges
- Witnesses or accomplices (possibly even the names of other family members involved)
Where can I find these records?
Begin by researching the court records from the courthouse in the area your ancestor conducted his criminal activity. You can also search online databases such as Black Sheep Ancestors or Cyndi’s List of resources. If you’re looking for U.S. criminal records, check out the National Archives’ online catalog, Archival Research Catalog (ARC). And make sure to use other sources such as newspaper articles and census records to help supplement your research. You never know if your ancestor’s criminal records can help you get through a brick wall.
Don’t forget to add any documentation you may find to your ancestor’s profile page on Geni!