Skip to Main Content

History: 79-200: Introduction to Historical Research & Writing: Cities and Scandals and Crime


This is a selection of some areas to search government documents. For a greater list, visit the Government Documents Research Guide.

You can also conduct an advanced search on government websites using Google, which will allow you to search in only government websites

screenshot of google advanced search

Court and Police Records

docket is a "formal record in which a judge or court clerk briefly notes all the proceedings and filings in a court case." (From Black's Law Dictionary, 11th ed. 2019.) After a case is filed, the court assigns it a docket number, which is the court's case number or tracking number. The docket lists the judge, parties, and the attorneys of record, along with a summary of each document filed in the case, the date when it was filed, and the court case number assigned to the document.

docket number may be composed of a number or letter indicating the court, a two-digit number to identify the year, the case type (either CV/cv for civil cases or CR/cr for criminal cases), a four- or five-digit case number, and the judge’s initials. For example, 1:21-cv-5678-MW is the docket number for the 5,678th civil case filed in the year 2021 and assigned to court number 1 and the Honorable Martha Washington.

Court records may include the case file containing the docket sheet and all documents filed in the case, as well as other documents generated during the proceedings, including, for example, trial transcripts and instructions to juries. The online availability of court dockets and records depends on the jurisdiction. Some have free online docket systems; others require a subscription to their docket system.

Each state has their own court system and archives. For help finding court cases, contact a librarian.

Criminal Justice Resources