Philadelphia Criminal Court Records Sampling Project

Philadelphia Department of Records


The Philadelphia Criminal Court Records Sampling Project is an ongoing cooperative effort between the Philadelphia Department of Records, the Clerk of Quarter Sessions, and the first Judicial District of Pennsylvania to sample and re-house criminal court records of Philadelphia County, currently stored in the Philadelphia City Records Center. The proliferation of court records since the mid-twentieth century has made such an effort imperative to reduce bulk and provide access to materials which will be permanently retained, indexed, and made available to researchers at the City Archives. The sampling project focused on the years since 1940; Court of Quarter Sessions files dated prior to 1940 in custody of the Department of Records will not be sampled. Under a series of grants from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission from 1997-1999, the project staff with the guidance of an advisory board of records managers from the court offices, state records officers, a statistician, and scholars developed and implemented a sampling methodology which resulted in an approximately 65 percent reduction in bulk of records of the Court of Quarter Sessions for the years 1940-52. The files selected for permanent retention have been transferred to the City Archives and are being prepared for processing.

List of Grants from Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Report of Phase I

Report of Phase II

Report of Phase III

Report of Phase IV

Summary of Reduction in Bulk of Records for Years 1940-1952