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HWST 115 - Mo'okū'auhau: Hawaiian Genealogies: Court Records

Background Information

Court records started to become available from 1842. The Kingdom's courts were divided into 5 Circuits.

  • Oahu (1st Circuit)
  • Maui (2nd Circuit)
  • Hawai'i (3rd & 4th Circuit)
  • Kauai (5th Circuit)

Probate records, such as wills, will most likely have the most genealogical information. These cases were often times filed many years after the death of a family member, so the date of filing does not always correspond with the date of death. Sometimes, residents of other islands filed probates in the First Circuit court. Genealogical information may be found in other types of cases, such as Civil, Law, Equity (which may include disputes over land titles), and Divorce. 

The Research Process

Getting Started
Court records are located at the Hawai'i State Archives and the Circuit Courts. For more historical court cases, begin with the indexes for historical court cases. For more contemporary court cases, begin with the online court case databases.

Where can you find all this information?

Generally, case records prior to 1900 are in the State Archives and later records in the Circuit Courts. UH Mānoa's Hawaiian Collection has print indexes available for historical court cases. Once you find a court case you want from those indexes, you will then need to then go to the Hawai'i State Archives or Circuit Courts to locate the case files and minutes.

Indexes for Historical Court Cases

Contemporary Court Cases

Content: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Windward Community College Library