When did guardianship records begin

posted in: Family History, Genealogy | 0

I recent had someone ask me when guardianship records began.  I had to be honest and say I did not know.

I had seen them from the mid-20th Century, but not before.

Children were left with no parents and needed a guardian

But first, what are guardianship records?

This would be when one or both parents have passed away and a minor is involved.

A guardian is an individual who is legally responsible for the minor.

Disabled adults can also have a guardian, but for the purposes of this article, I am focusing on minor children.  That will be where the majority of genealogist will find such records.

I did find a great-uncle who died in the early 1950s and had a minor child {I believe he was 15 or 16}.  In the estate records were guardian papers, giving guardianship to the mother, who was married to my great-uncle and the biological mother.  The reason for this was she served as guardian ad litem for the minor child in the probate proceedings.

This shows the definition of guardianship records {which actually surprised me some}.  Guardianship records are NOT custody, but when the court appoints someone to represent the legal interest of the minor child.

So what information can we find in guardianship records?

Guardians were appointed for the orphans
  • Name of the child
  • Relationship to the deceased
  • Date the guardianship ended
  • References to other court proceedings related to the case or probate record
  • Names of relatives

How have guardianship records been of help to you?


Next week, we will explore the second part of the question of what happened to minor children when both parents died.

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