Since the earliest organised societies , with taxation , disputes, and so on, records of some sort have been needed.
In ancient Babylon records were kept in cuneiform writing on clay tablets. In the Inca empire of South America , which did not have writing, records were kept via an elaborate form of knots in cords, quipu , whose meaning has been lost. In Western Europe in the Late Middle Ages public records included census records as well as records of birth, death, and marriage; an example is the Domesday Book of William the Conqueror.
Although public records are records of public business, they are not necessarily available without restriction, although Freedom of Information legislation FOI that has been gradually introduced in many jurisdictions since the s has made access easier. Each government has policies and regulations that govern the availability of information contained in public records. A common restriction is that data about a person is not normally available to others; for example, the California Public Records Act PRA states that "except for certain explicit exceptions, personal information maintained about an individual may not be disclosed without the person's consent".
In the United Kingdom, Cabinet papers were subject to the thirty-year rule : until the introduction of FOI legislation, Cabinet papers were not available for thirty years; some information could be withheld for longer. As of [update] the rule still applies to some information, such as minutes of Cabinet meetings. Some companies provide access, for a fee, to many public records available on the Internet. Many of them specialize in particular types of information, while some offer access to different types of record, typically to professionals in various fields.
Public Records Division
Some companies sell software with a promise of unlimited access to public records, but may provide nothing more than basic information on how to access already available and generally free public websites. Each year news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested groups sponsor "Sunshine Week. In many states, state legislatures are often exempt from public-records laws that apply to state executive officials and local officials. In , the Associated Press made a request for the emails and daily schedules of state legislative leaders speakers of state Houses and presidents of state Senates in all 50 states; a majority denied the request.
7 Ways to Do Free Public Records Searches Online - wikiHow
Of particular significance was the evolution of the common-law right "to access court records to inspect and to copy". The expectation inherent in the common law right to access court records is that any person may come to the office of the clerk of the court during business hours and request to inspect court records, with almost instantaneous access. Such right is a central safeguard of the integrity of the courts. Any decision to conceal court records requires a sealing order. The right to access court records is also central to liberty: There is no conceivable way to exercise the Habeas Corpus right, deemed by the late Justice Brennan  as "the cornerstone" of the United States Constitution, absent access to court records as public records.
In the United States the common law right to "access court records to inspect and to copy" was reaffirmed by the U. Supreme Court in Nixon v Warner Communications, Inc , where the court found various parts of the right to access court records as inherent to the First, Fourth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
Prothonotary All civil court files, excepting juvenile cases or other non-public files from August forward.
What are Public Records?
These files are updated on a daily basis. Civil Records and Documents.
Recorder of Deeds The following indices from the Recorder of Deeds office are available online via subscription service reached through the following link. Records Access Deeds: to present Mortgages: to present Miscellaneous: to present. Different states have different laws concerning public records.
However, some of the most common public records include birth and death records, marriage and divorce records, criminal records, bankruptcy records and lien information. All states are required by law to provide public records of all convicted sex offenders as well.
Background checks and people searches use information from these sources, though you would have to search multiple databases to get the information provided in one people search report. Depending on which state you live in, public records can extend even further.
Some states make public record of unemployment claims, campaign contributions, licenses and certifications, tax information, real estate transactions and deeds, census records and more.