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HWST 341: Mo'okū'auhau: Hawaiian Genealogies Research: Court Records

Background Information

Court records started to become available from 1842. The Kingdomʻs courts were divided into 5 Circuits.
  • Oahu (1st Circuit)
  • Maui (2nd Circuit)
  • Hawaii (3rd & 4th Circuit)
  • Kauai (5th Circuit)
Probate records, such as wills, will most likely have the most genealogical information. These cases were often times filed many years after the death of family member, so the date of filing does not always correspond to the date of death. Sometimes, residents of other islands filed probates in the First Circuit. Genealogical information may be found in other types of cases, such as Civil, Law, and Equity (which may include disputes over land titles) and Divorce. 

The Research Process

Getting Started: How do I find Court Case records?
Court records are located at the Hawaii State Archives and the Circuit Courts. For more historical court cases, begin with the indexes for historical court cases. UH Manoaʻs Hawaiian Collection has these print indexes. Once you find a court case  you want from those indexes, you will then need to then go to the Hawaii State Archives or Circuit Courts for the case files and minutes. For more contemporary court cases, begin with the online court case databases.


Available at UH Mānoa - Historical Court Cases

Available Online - Contemporary Court Cases