The creation of this searchable name index was the product of the Great Depression programs to give people work, stimulating the economy without compromising the recovery of private businesses. According to a Free-Lance Star article of 23 September 1938, the Works Progress Administration supplied $4,677 and the City of Fredericksburg supplied $303 to hire a researcher, Mrs. R. H. Deaderick and a typist Mrs. Bernice Lewis, to index historic court records. No mention is made of the indvidual(s) overseeing the project. The researcher would read the hand-written books, making cards of names of prominence, noting the volume, date, and subject matter. The pages are typed with seven areas of information: Parties (Plaintiff, Defendant) Court, Book (date range of volume) Page number, Kind of action, Remarks. The typist then alphabetized the listing and typed them onto specially printed pages. It is known that the WPA projects were terminated very quickly after the entry of the United States into World War II. There are over 8,000 pages of names, but, for example the names under the letter T go only to "Te", far short of what is present in the two volumes. There was only one copy of the index created in the 1930s. The pages were numbered when the books were microfilmed in 1973.
The volumes were transcribed by Gary Stanton with two goals: first to give researchers an access to records that were otherwise ignored or unknown; second, to allow the index to be searched either on the name of the plaintiff or the defendant. Barry McGhee, Circuit Court Archivist, had years before realized that the index was incomplete and his wife, Patricia McGhee, has worked with him to create lists of names present in these court books, but not in the index. The greatest under-representation was the names of African-Americans, particularly those enslaved, as they approached the court for redress, or legal rights, or were represented as chattel in matters of property by their owners.
This index gives volume and page numbers refering to volumes housed in the Circuit Court Archives of Fredericksburg, Virginia. To use these volumes one must visit the Circuit Court Archives in Fredericksburg. A minority of these volumes have microfilm copies available for interlibrary loan from the Virginia State Library. This on-line index is an aid to research, not a substitute for research. This index is not a certified copy and is provided solely for historians and geneological researchers. Errors of transcription or reading of the microfilm are solely the fault of Gary Stanton, I take complete responsibility for them.
Please send questions or corrections to Gary Stanton at the Historic Preservation Department of the University of Mary Washington