County Records: Why Finding Them Should Be A Priority In Your People Search


Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

Conducting a people search online can yield unexpected results that may shed light on a person or their specific circumstances. County records play a pivotal role in any thorough background check or people search in two ways: firstly, county records are often the primary source for important information about an individual. Secondly, because a surprising number of jurisdictions do not digitize records, going to a county records office would have historically been the only viable way to access information that was not immediately available right off the bat. Fortunately, BeenVerified pulls from public records available online and compiles the data into an easy-to-read and organized report. When county records are not digitized, however, you may still be unable to find certain documents, records, or information about an individual online. Here’s a breakdown about why obtaining and examining county records may be a worthwhile priority in your particular people search.

Why They Matter In A People Search

County records, which are often public records, are important assets in almost any people search. Because much of the information you can find out about a person is managed by the local county records office, it is helpful to understand that as part of your due diligence, you may want to do some extra digging to get all the data related to a particular person. As this data may or may not be digitized, an online search may not be as helpful as you might wish it to be. The local county is responsible for maintaining vital records such as marriage and divorce records, and even some criminal records pertaining to those offenses handled by that jurisdiction--this is the very kind of data that may be essential to try and confirm someone’s identity. In such scenarios, you might try and visit the county records offices where a clerk may be able to assist you in your search. However, you may need to search records in several counties, depending on the search subject--since this information is typically managed by the county in which the applicable life event occurred and those records are not necessarily transferred to, or shared with, another jurisdiction in the event of a move.

How To Start Your County Records Search

Knowing how to cover all your bases when performing a county records search is paramount to that search’s success. There is such a wide variety of media one might find pertaining to even one single individual. And while a lot of it may be housed in the county records office, there are other places you may wish to check before throwing in the towel and giving up on your people search. Firstly, a good starting point is getting in contact with the county clerk offices where you may find a county clerk of court. These offices usually offer detailed information on archived criminal and civil court records in the respective jurisdiction. Secondly, contact or visit the county recorder's office: this is the entity that is usually responsible for housing vital records, land records, deeds, surveys, mortgages, easements and liens, and this is another place where you may find a veritable wealth of information. This data may come in media and formats other than written documents, such as microfilm, microfiches, books, images, paper files, and indices. Thirdly, you may want to pay a visit to the county public vital health departments, where birth, death, marriage and divorce records are often maintained. Finally, try digging through documents owned by nearby religious institutions that were affiliated with the person you are searching; these institutions may even have on file written records of important dates that other offices lack. Keeping up with all the places you need to go and where such offices may be accessed and items found can prove a little exhausting, and frustrating — but keeping an organized log of what you found and where you found it can serve to make the process considerably easier and profoundly advantageous as time progresses, when anyone would be apt to forget where and why they were able to recover what.

Remember that you may not have access to all of the information or records you desire, and even if you do, you may need to email, mail, fax, or call the appropriate authorities for the authorization to access such items, especially if you are not the person of record whose records you are seeking or that person’s immediate relative (who shares that surname). Additionally, bear in mind that although county records are ostensibly “public records”, these documents may well contain sensitive information that requires the records to be sealed or restricted from unfettered public view. PRIOR to making the trip, you might want to consider first calling the county records offices you plan to visit in order to double-check their regulations (and available hours of operation) and confirm what identification and other items they require before providing access.

What will you find out?