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                             FREE PUBLIC RECORDS DIRECTORY

MORE AND MORE municipalities, counties and states             is some access to records online or that information
are making data accessible via the Internet. To learn         about record availability and access procedures is
what is available for where you are researching, visit        available or that there is a fee-based access service.
the Free Public Records Directory website. You will                What about a less populated and less famous
find links to criminal records, civil court records,          locale? I also checked out Newtown, Connecticut,
marriage records, divorce records, real and personal          which I knew was in Fairfield County. Though you
property records, recorded documents, jail and                are directed to the Fairfield County page, it is clear
inmate records, sex offender records, wanted person           that Assessor records are handled by each municipal-
records and other free public records.                        ity since one finds: Brookfield, CT Assessor Database,
     Note that state laws vary greatly in terms of what       Danbury, CT Assessor Database, Fairfield, CT
kind of information can be made public and that the           Assessor Database, et al. Otherwise, there is only
degree to which municipali-                                                             Census Information
ties and counties are making                                                            Summary available. So,
data available online varies                                                            Connecticut has not yet made
dramatically. Also, many of                                                             available, via the Internet,
the efforts to post information                                                         many of its local records.
online were not started till                                                                And, let’s also check out a
the late 1990s (or that is the                                                          city — Philadelphia.
data that is available).                                                                Philadelphia is in
Sometimes information goes                                                              Philadelphia County and
back to the 1980s and even                                                              there are many, many records
much further. Some entities                                                             available online. There are
are adding older data as time                                                           Assessor Records,
and finances permit.                                                                    Recorder/Registrar of Deeds
     To start, you type in your                                                         records, Recorders
zip code or city and state of                                                           Grantor/Grantee Index (a fee
interest, then you’re typically                                                         service for records from 1976
directed to a county level list                                                         to the present, and a histori-
(since many records are kept                                                            cal index that has deeds back
at this level). You also have                                                           to 1619!). You can look at the
the option to click on a partic-                                                        deed indices, organized by
ular state and find state level                                                         century and year and then
records before looking at                                                               alphabetically by individual.
county level records. For each                                                          Many types of court records
type of record listed, you will        The Free Public Records Directory website.       are available along with
find the following:                                                                     police department records
 • Free public records database or lists                      and much more.
 • Contact information for public records holder                   The biggest challenge we face when searching
 • Paid access to public records                              through online county records is that most of these
     I checked out Las Vegas ,Nevada and learned              databases dare you to figure out what time period is
that Las Vegas is in Clark County. For Clark County,          covered. You typically find this out by just doing a
there is information on: Assessor Records,                    search and seeing the oldest record that is displayed.
Recorder/Registrar of Deeds, Census Information               Some of the websites will have FAQs or other infor-
Summary, District Courts, Jail and Inmate Records, a          mation pages to assist you in your search.
link to the Clark County website and more. Clicking                As you can see, what is available varies dramati-
on Recorder/Registrar of Deeds brings up the Clark            cally and you’ll definitely want to check out the com-
County Recorder web page and we learn that you                munity you are researching. Like Philadelphia,
can search on deeds going back to 1950! Each record           you might find that some wonderful informa-
type will have free, info or paid indicating that there       tion is available online! — DIANE L. RICHARD

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