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Hawaiʻi - Genealogy Research

Background Info

Court records started to become available from 1842. Popular court records for genealogy research are located at the Hawaiʻi State Archives and the Circuit Courts. Genealogy records are commonly found in the circuit court records because those courts are the trial courts that have general jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases and exclusive jurisdiction over probate, guardianship and criminal felony cases. The circuit courts are divided into 5 courts.

  • Oʻahu (1st Circuit)
  • Maui, Lānaʻi, and Molokaʻi (2nd Circuit)
  • Hawaiʻi (3rd & 4th Circuit)
  • Kauaʻi (5th Circuit)

Probate records, such as wills, likely have the most genealogy information. These cases could have been filed with the court 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 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Circuits filed probates in the 1st 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.

Hawaiʻi State Archives

To locate historic court records, begin with the indexes and online collections linked below of records and indexes from the Hawaiʻi State Archives. UH Manoaʻs Hawaiian Collection also has these indexes available in print. Once you find a court case you want from those indexes, you will then need to then go to the Hawaiʻi State Archives or Circuit Courts for the case files and minutes. For more contemporary court cases, begin with the Hawaiʻi court online databases eCourt Kokua and Hoʻohiki.

With a Hawaiʻi State Public Library (HSPL) card, access digital copies of many historic records from Ancestory.com in the collection Hawaii, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1822-1962. To access this collection, go to any HSPL branch and use one of their computers to access the Ancestry Library Edition. Once you are logged in, click here to search in the "Hawaii, U.S., Wills and Probate Records" collection.

  • Probates (Search Online)
    • Oahu: First Circuit 1847-1921 on Microfilm MFL 52 and 126
    • Maui, Molokai, Lanai: Second Circuit 1848-1900, 1915 on Microfilm MFL 55
    • Hawaiʻi: Third Circuit 1854-1897 on Microfilm MFL 57
    • Hawaiʻi: Fourth Circuit 1881-1904 on Microfilm MFL 59
    • Kauai, Niihau: Fifth Circuit 1851-1914 on Microfilm MFL 61
  • Judiciary Records (Search Online)
    • Collection of most requested probate case files 
  • Wills (Search Online)
    • First Circuit 1893-1916, Other Circuits 1852-1916 on Microfilm MFL 53