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Quarter Sessions Court, Clerk of

[Record Group 21]

21.1 Annual Report
1958-1967, 1971-1974, 1976-1980. 1983-1984
15 volumes, no index
Reports also contain summaries of Clerk's functions in regard to Municipal Court/County Court.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.2 Docket
1753-1838, 1843-1879; missing 1771-1772, 1781-1789, 1813-1814, 1821
114 volumes, partial index
Entries for each court term list judges and court officers present, grand jurors and (occasionally) petty jurors, and criminal case entries which list defendant, charge, grand jury finding, bail set or continuance granted, defendant's plea, jury, witnesses, verdict, sentence; also entered variously are road petitions and road viewers' reports, appointments of township constables, highway supervisors, and overseers of the poor, apprentice cases, tavern and peddlers' licenses issued.
For similar records 1838-1843 see Criminal Sessions Court Docket and General Sessions Court Docket
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.3 Oyer and Terminer Docket
1794-1840; missing: 1810-1814, 1834
7 volumes, partial index
Entries identical in form with those of docket listing contain in heading for each court term list of justices present and grand (and, occasionally) petty jurors; case entries present normal listings of defendant, charge, his plea, jurors, witnesses, verdict, sentence.
Vol. 1838-1840 also presents attendance records of jurors and constables.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.4 Minute Book
1799-1802, 1804-1805, 1807-1825, 1829-1838, 1846-1852, 1854-1870, 1932-1933
42 volumes, index
In general, a parallel series to docket listed above; entries, sometimes in rough form, contain standard criminal case record (see docket entry) or a shortened form listing only defendant, charge, grand jury finding, and verdict; other entries, in journal form, list daily court activities such as dates of sitting, presiding judge, juror lists, appointments of court and county officers, petitions of various sorts, commitments for lunacy, desertion cases.
For similar records 1838-1843 see Criminal Sessions Court Minute Books and General Sessions Court Minute Books
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.5 Notes of Testimony
1877-1915, 1940-1952
169 cu.ft., index
Includes stenographic transcriptions of complete testimony of selected cases heard before the Court of Quarter Sessions. Transcript includes name of defendant, term and number of case, name of district attorney and defense attorney, and names of persons giving evidence for the Commonwealth and the defense and of court stenographer.
Cases, 1877-1915, involve murder, abortion, milk tampering, election fraud, conspiracy, embezzlement, disbarrment of lawyers, lunacy hearings, and public works fraud, among others. Notable cases for these years include the murder case of Herman George Mudgett (H.H. Holmes) in 1895, disbarrment proceedings of William A. Shoemaker (1895) and Joseph R. Serfass (1906), contested elections of John Dougherty (1896), William G. Huey (1898), and Thomas McCullough (1898), election fraud trials in 1901 and 1902, and the conspiracy trial against Henry Clay, Carl Zelinziger, John R. Wiggins and William H. Walls accused of defrauding the City of Philadelphia in public works contracts in 1912.

One volume consists of cases heard in Juvenile Court in September 1911. A separate index is found within this volume.

Index arranged by court docket term and number, if known.

Notes of Testimony, 1940-1952 are a sample which includes all cases of homicide, manslaughter and cases deemed to be spectacular or notorious and a sample of other cases selected by a rigorous sampling method (sampling methodology is available to researchers upon request). Although files are largely confined to the stenographic transcript of the trial, occasionally other items are filed with the transcript including evidence, bills of indictment, and copies of petition under Post Conviction Hearing Act which include the name of the defendant, indictments and offenses for which defendant had not completed sentence, list of crimes with he was charged, prison in which confined, date of sentence, reason for requesting relief under Act, supporting exhibits; statement whether defendant has proceedings in court of Commonwealth, a habeas corpus proceeding in a Federal court, or other proceedings; name of lawyer of defense attorney, a statement whether defendant is able to employ attorney, defendant's affidavit, and the court order. Index , 1940-1952, is in the form of a data base.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104


21.6 Desertion Docket
1865-1914; missing: 1897-1899, 1901
23 volumes, index
Entries list defendant, charge, judge, decision, date, terms of support ordered and (often) names of wife and children; addresses sometimes added.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.7 Miscellaneous Desertion Docket
1879-1913; missing: 1896
8 volumes, index
Entries list defendant, judge, dates and actions taken normally in enforcement of support orders as issued in Desertion Docket , or in vacation of them.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.8 Contested Election Docket
1879-1915
1 volume, index
Entries list allegation, chief petitioner, dates petitions filed and allowed or disallowed, bonds posted, commissioners appointed to take testimony, rulings.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.9 "Fairmount Park Commissioners Docket"
1867-1920
3 volumes, index
Entries chiefly concerned with acquisitions of lands for park purposes; include Commissioners' reports of negotiations, court decrees confirming such agreements, petitions for juries in cases in which negotiations not possible, juries' reports, description of properties, damages awarded by Court, exceptions filed; also included are notices of Court's appointments of Park Commissioners. After 1920, these matters were entered in the Road Docket.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.10 Habeus Corpus Docket
1867-1911; missing: 1874-1878, 1907
13 volumes, index
Entries concerning habeus corpus hearings list date, parties, counsel, action taken.
No index for volume 1908-1911.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.11 Habeus Corpus Petitions
1906-1944
3 cu.ft., no index
Petitions list date, petitioner, parties, judge, ruling, and often detail facts in case; filed with them are often a transcript of testimony taken at hearing.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.12 Liquor Licenses. Minute Books
1820-1914; missing: 1825-1840, 1850-1887, 1892-1894, 1900-1903.
7 volumes, no index
Entries vary in form but all list names and addresses of licensees, grouped by City ward or district, borough, township in which granted.
Volume 1820-24lists licenses outside of City only.
Volume 1841-49 adds also hawkers' and peddlers' licenses granted.
Volume 1895-99 adds journal entries concerning hearings in regard to license renewals against which remonstrances made, and for license transfers.
Volume March 1914 contains notes of testimony in remonstrance hearings.
For similar entries prior to 1820, see Quarter Sessions Court, Docket and Mayor's Court, Docket
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.13 Liquor Seizure Docket
1924-1925
3 volumes, no index
Entries list date, judge, description of liquor seized and name of owner (and, occasionally, automobile in which found), date and court term and filing number of petition for forfeiture and condemnation of liquor and automobile, note of whether petition granted or vacated.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.14 Lunacy Commitment Docket
1905-1916
2 volumes, index
Entries list hearing date, judge, name and address of lunatic, name and address of person charged with his support, weekly amount of support ordered, (occasionally) place of lunatic's commitment.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.15 Lunacy Commitment Papers
1911-1912
1 cu.ft., no index
Papers for each commitment include court order making commitment which lists date and party committed, place and terms of commitment, party on whose motion commitment made; also, various petitions supporting motion for commitment and, occasionally, notes of testimony given before commissioners appointed to recommend disposition.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.16 Miscellaneous Docket
1861-1862, 1882-1925, 1933
7 volumes, no index
Entries list date, parties, judge, counsel, matter, and summary of proceedings; matters include, inter alia, establishment of election districts, erection of City wards, habeus corpus hearings, misdemeanor and Juvenile hearings, appeals from summary convictions, appointment of various county officers, increases in City indebtedness, removal of cemeteries, disbarment of attorneys, petitions for liquor and detective licenses.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.17 Docket, Declarations of Intention of Naturalization
1802-1906, 1913-1930
122 volumes, index
Entries list declarant's name, date and place of birth (normally province, county, or nation only), age, foreign allegiance; declarations 1906-1930 add ports of embarkation and entry, dates, vessel, foreign residence, U.S. residence, occupation, physical description.
For similar records, see Common Pleas Court Docket, Declarations of Intention;
District Court Docket, Declarations of Intention;
Mayor's Court Docket, Declarations of Intention;
General Sessions Court Docket, Declarations of Intention; and
Recorder's Court Docket, Declarations of Intention.

Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.18 Petitions for Naturalization
1800-1897, 1914-1930
42 cu.ft., 64 volumes, index
Petitions list name of petitioner, country of origin, former allegiance renounced, date naturalization granted, name of voucher; copy of Declaration of Intention (see entry immediately above), if made, filed with Petition includes variously petitioner's name, age, address, place of origin (normally province or county only); petitions 1913-1930 add information concerning petitioner's birth, physical description, family, passage, residence and occupation in the United States
For similar records, see Common Pleas Court Petitions for Naturalizations;
District Court Petitions for Naturalizations;
Mayor's Court Petitions for Naturalizations and
Recorder's Court Petitions for Naturalizations.

Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.19 Correspondence regarding naturalizations
1929-1942
1 volume, no index
Includes partial lists of naturalization petitions granted and denied, requests for information, official directives.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.20 Petitions regarding Election District Changes
1933
1 cu.ft., no index
Petitions advocating consolidation of election divisions shrunken in population or splitting of heavily populated ones list proposed new boundaries and signatures of petitioners; also, petitions against such new divisions.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.21 Petitions for Issuance of Detective Licenses
1911-1917
1 cu.ft., no index
Filed alphabetically within years. individual file folders contain petition, copies of applicant's oath and bond, notice of no objection by Director of Department of Public Safety, proof of advertisement of hearing.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.22 Recognizance Forfeitures, Judgment Docket
1846-1868
3 volumes, index
Entries list date, defendant, bailor, amount of bail, summary of legal steps taken to declare bail forfeit.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.23 Recognizance Forfeitures, Execution Docket
1849-1879
1 volume, index
Entries list date, bailor, amount of bail, summary of legal steps taken and costs incurred in collecting forfeits.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.24 Bail Bond Forfeitures
1911-1916
1 cu.ft., no index
Papers in each case include, chiefly, court order to Sheriff to levy on goods of bondsman and, often, petition of bondsman for remission of forfeiture.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.25 Road Docket
1685-1953
79 volumes, index
Entries contain petitions for laying out or opening of roads, streets, and bridges specifying desired routes and names of petitioners, reports of court appointed road viewers, objections entered to routes, any necessary re-viewings, confirmations by court; also, reports and confirmations of district borough, and township bounds and divisions.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.26 Road Petitions
1685-1919
57 cu.ft., index
Papers in regards to opening of streets, roads, bridges, parks, filed by location, normally include original petition for opening, court's appointment of viewers, their report, exceptions to it filed, orders confirming road and awarding damages, scaled and detailed maps of roads. Also included is one file relating to damages awarded owing to the destruction of Pennsylvania Hall, home of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, on 17 May 1838, including eye-witness testimony.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.27 Road Case Record
1836-1944
21 volumes, index
Entries of uneven date vary in form but list essentially date, location of road or bridge, legal steps taken in regard to its opening; these entries form basis of more comprehensive and unified entries in road docket series; matters in earliest volumes also include setting of wharf lines, incorporation of boroughs, appointments of some county officers, approval of county area survey plans, apprentice cases, mob damage petitions.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.28 Road Jury Record
1896-1899
1 volume, index
Entries list name of street for opening of which jurors appointed, jurors' names and dates appointed, date of petition and petitioners for street's opening.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.29 Road Bonds Record
1893-1928
2 volumes, index
Entries list name of street in connection with opening of which bond filed, notice of City's intention to file bond, amount of bond and date filed.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.30 Rules of the Court
March 1961
1 volume, no index
Rules of procedure in effect as of date of publication.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.31 Special Grand Jury, 1934: Notes of Testimony
January - March 1934
8 volumes, index
Complete transcript of testimony taken by Jury charged with investigating weights and measures regulation by City.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.32 Special Grand Jury 1937, Presentments
1939
1 cu.ft., no index
Bound copies of all Jury's presentments, containing also District Attorney's petition for the investigation, Mayor's memoranda concerning it, Judge's instructions to Jury at impaneling and his subsequent instructions and public statements; Jury charged with investigating District Attorney's office and vice, crime, and law enforcement.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.33 Special Grand Jury 1937, Notes of Testimony
September 1937-June 1939
19 cu.ft., no index
Complete transcripts of testimony taken by Jury, including court stenographer's transcripts.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.34 Special Grand Jury 1937, Schedule of Digests
1937-1939
6 volumes, index
Digests of statements by all witnesses; entries arranged alphabetically by witnesses names, under each of which is listed all persons and places to which reference made.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.35 Special Grand Jury 1937, Witness Record
1937-1939
1 volume, no index
Entries grouped alphabetically. list of witnesses heard by Jury; each name is assigned a number and followed by the volume and page in notes of testimony , in which his statement is recorded and its date.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.36 Special Grand Jury 1937, Witness and Volume Record
1937-1939
2 volumes, index
Stenographer's record, listing for each volume of notes of testimony , the names of those witnesses whose testimony it contains, lists of exhibits contained, summary of witnesses' testimony.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.36a Special Grand Jury 1937, Stenographers' Financial Records and Copies of Transcripts
1937-1938
1 cu.ft., no index
Stenographers' financial records including bank statements and cancelled checks for Grand Jury expenditures, bank books, receipts for purchases, check stubs and statements of allocation of funds in Grand Jury accounts, exhibits and petitions in mandamus proceedings against City of Philadelphia for payment of stenographers, a transcript of the District Attorney's petition to the Court of Quarter Sessions for a grand jury to investigate charges of vice and crime dated September 15, 1937 and a transcript of the City Solicitor's statement of September 16, 1937 in reply to this petition, a copy of the recommendation of January 26, 1937 of the Mayor's Crime Commission and a copy of a letter addressed to a Commission member; a copy of a confidential memo of Nathan D. Antenson, Special Counsel, detailing the system of coordinating the Grand Jury investigation in areas pertaining to filing system, digesting testimony and subsequent indexing and filing, building cases, and presentment, trial and final report; lists of witnesses appearing before the Grand Jury which include the name of the person conducting the examination and time of examination, transcripts of Grand Jury presentments and of the judge's charges and instructions to the Grand Jury, and transcripts of related and unrelated hearings.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.37 Special Grand Jury 1950, Notes of Testimony
1950-1951
10 cu.ft., no index
Complete transcripts of testimony taken by Jury charged with investigating Bureaus of Water and Building Inspection, and City issuance of licenses and permits generally. Also, there is included three cubic feet of court stenographers' tapes.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.38 Special Grand Jury 1950, Day Book
1950-1951
1 cu.ft., no index
Monthly rolls of Jury members, indicating days Jury sat, individual attendances and absences, and general running account of Jury's chief activities April 3, 1950-April 12, 1951; daily entries list names of those conducting questioning, names of witnesses, some background data on each, summary of their testimony.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.39 Special Grand Jury 1951, Notes of Testimony
1951-1952
6 cu.ft., no index
Complete transcripts of testimony taken by Jury charged with investigating Coroner's office, including two cubic feet of stenographers' tapes.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.40 Grand Jury Presentments
1944-1954, 1971
1 cu.ft., no index
No presentment for every month, but years 1946-1950 almost complete; scattered presentments only for years earlier and later. each presentment a summary of Jury's actions and findings listing (often) a summary of the number of bills of indictment examined and the numbers returned true and ignored; also, reports of Jury visits to City and State prisons, hospitals, welfare institutions. The volume for 1971 is called the Report of the August 1971 Grand Jury and is submitted to the Judges of the Common Pleas Court Criminal Section.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.40a Grand Jury Hearing Record
October 1849
1 volume, no index
One of two original volumes; include lists of month's grand juror's names, date upon which sat, defendants' names, hearing dates, charges, witnesses' names, jury's findings.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.41 Jurors Time Book
1847-1854, 1906-1911
2 volumes, no index
Under headings of Court terms are listed names of jurors, days present and absent, totals;
vol. 1847-1854 includes both grand and petty jurors and, occasionally, adds jurors' occupations;
vol. 1906-1911 lists grand jurors only, adds mileage paid them.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.42 Ward Realignment Commission, Report and Plan
1965
1 volume, no index
Commission appointed by Court March, 1963 to prepare plan of realignment of all City wards based on equitable population distribution; includes a brief history of Commission's proceedings, descriptions of boundaries and approximate populations of proposed new wards; copy of Court's final order of August 2, 1965 approving plan effective December 1, 1965; map of new ward arrangement.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.43 Municipal Court, Domestic Relations Docket
1922-1938
24 volumes, index
Entries list defendant, petition number and date, cause of action, ruling (chiefly increases in support payments, and child custody awards).
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.43a Municipal Court, Domestic Relations Cases
1936
24 cu.ft., no index
Contains names of plaintiff and defendant, petitions and orders for affidavits for attachment, petitions to change dollar amount or beneficiary, confessions of judgment, subpeonas, warrants and bench warrants, and accounting sheets. Cases are filed by court term and case number.
These records may be used only with permission from the City Archivist.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.44 Municipal Court, Support Orders
1911-1913
3 cu.ft., no index
Papers filed with orders include transcript of magistrate's hearing at which charge made which lists complainant, defendant and address, charge, bondsman, witnesses; and summary of Municipal Court proceedings listing detailed account of conditions, terms, and support payments to be made.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.45 Bills of Indictment, Nolle Prosequi
1874-1907
1 cu.ft., no index
Each bill includes date of the court session, name of person or persons indicted, date of crime, charge (often including a very detailed narrative of incident leading to indictment), signature of district attorney, names and addresses of witnesses, signature of Grand Jury foreman, deposition of the bill, amount of bail, name of judge granting bail, name and address of bail bondsman. All of the bills are marked "fugitive" and were nolle prossed in 1952.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
21.46 Bills of Indictment
December 1838 - October 1915; January 1940 - December 1952
277 cu.ft., no index
Each bill lists Court, term and number, date, defendant, charge (Occasionally in the form of a detailed narrative), plea, names of jury foreman and attorney general who signed the bill of indictment, notation whether bill true or false, names of witnesses, amount of bail, verdict and sentence. Bills for 1940-1952 are a sample (sampling methodology is available to researchers upon request) and include the following additional information: address of defendant, name of victim, addresses of witnesses and of those posting bail, and numbers of related indictment. Often filed with these later Bills are a number of other documents which variously include: petition to be relieved of fines and costs which lists a schedule of defendant's property, if any; affidavit of destitute condition, judge's orders for appearance in Court or transfer to institution; report of commission to inquire into defendant's sanity, which includes date of report, names of persons making statements before the commission, basis of board's decision judge's approval of report, and order for commitment; certificate of attorney that attorney was appointed by the Court to represent the defendant and a statement of their compensation for services, jury selection lists with names of those interviewed and those selected for jury and indication of challenges by district attorney and defendant's attorney, arrest warrant, statement of attorney's appearance or withdrawal from case; affidavit of service of notice of appeal which includes name of person making service, names of persons on whom service made , and Court, term and number of case; writ of certiorari directed to the Quarter Sessions Court from an appellate court requesting to review the case, statement of questions to be argued on appeal; copy of appeal to appellate court listing term, case number, name of appellant, date filed, charge, summary of steps of case from docket of Quarter Sessions Court, and exhibits; opinion of the appellate court, and remittitur sending judgment of appellate court and record back to the Court of Quarter Sessions.
Location: City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
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Last updated on November 8, 2000