The court system in Wisconsin is two-tiered. There are municipal courts (which today are typically for traffic citations, local ordinance violations and minor crimes) and county-wide, or circuit courts that handle more significant criminal violations and civil actions. The UW-Parkside Archives has records for Racine’s and Kenosha’s municipal and circuit courts, as well as some records for other municipal courts within the two counties.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the distinction between the two tiers was primarily geographical, rather than based on the magnitude of the offense. Infractions or actions of any sort that happened within the boundaries of a particular municipality were handled by that court, while all other court actions transpired at the circuit/county level.
Courts generated a variety of different documentation, including appearance and case dockets, order books, judgment books and case files. Dockets are generally fairly brief, but are often the only records of a court appearance and also act as the “front door” to more detailed materials.
Civil Court Indexes and Appearance Dockets:
- Kenosha Municipal Court Record Books, 1909-1960
Kenosha Series 100
25 volumes with alphabetical plaintiff and defendant name indexes at the front of each volume. Records consist of primarily divorce, damages, foreclosures, name changes, and garnishment cases.
- Kenosha County Circuit Court Appearance Docket and Court Record, 1850-1970
Kenosha Series 58
38 volumes that include divorce cases.
- Kenosha County Court Index to County Court Records, 1850-1970
Kenosha Series 69
Typescript copy of a name index to the Appearance Docket and Court Record (Kenosha Series 68), providing the names of parties to the case, the case number, and the location of documents pertaining to the case in the dockets, order books, and judgment books. The index covers Volumes A & B and 1 through 48 of the Court Record though Vol. B of Kenosha Series 68 is missing.
- Kenosha County Chancery Entry Docket and Index, 1850-1862
Kenosha Series 72
1 volume and index. Summary record of the proceedings of chancery cases showing the names of parties to the case; the file number; title of case; and a record of actions taken by the court, including the judgment. The record includes many bill collection, land purchase, mortgage foreclosure, and divorce cases.
- Racine County Municipal Court Record, 1897-1962
Racine Series 116
34 volumes with an index at front of each volume. The records include divorce cases.
- Racine County Circuit Court Appearance Docket, 1845-1964
Racine Series 107
76 volumes with an index at front of each volume. Volumes 1-3 (A-C), and 80-81 are missing. Includes divorce cases.
- Racine County Court Appearance Docket, 1850-1855
Racine Series 118
1 volume with index at front of volume.
Criminal Court Indexes and Appearance Dockets
Probate Case Files
If you are unable to visit our facility, we will be happy to provide you with copies of records located in our office: Please contact us with your request. It is helpful if you list your subject's name, location and dates of milestones.