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PUBLIC RECORDS

Last Update: Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Note: Not all public records are available online, but some of the pages below can tell you how to access them by steering you to the proper office. Some of the sites have an annual or one-time search fee. Pages will launch into a new browser.

Related Toolbox Pages: Form 990s General Research Federal Government Business Crime Investigative/Backgrounding


Recent Additions to This Section
(This section features sites added to the page in the last few weeks.
Each link is cross-referenced on the page in its proper category.)

Accurint
A backgrounder site in which a basic look-up is 25 cents. A full report, which includes past addresses, relatives, properties etc. is under $8. Find out where someone is living, what property they own, etc.

SLA News Division: Surveys and Forms Section
Great resources for public documents and research.

Oatis.com Reporting Resources
A comprehensive resource for reporters on deadline, this site offers links and tips for finding pubic records, business coverage resources and tips on software and how it can be used by journalists. It is run by Jonathan Oatis, an American journalist working for Reuters in London.

Charity Navigator
Another good charity evaluation site. Allows you to search alphabetically and by region.

Philanthropy.com: Organizations that Evaluate Charities
Breaks down the issues they look at when evaluating charities.

MinistryWatch.com
Evaluates more than 500 religion-based charities.


E-Law.com's Enron Documents Database
Nearly every legal document in this historical case is available free through this site as .PDF documents.

Vital Records Database
Lists links to all the state and county agencies that keep vital statistics such as birth, death andmarriage records around the country. Also lists the fee the states charge for the records.

Searchsystems.net
Links to almost 5,000 public records databases. Claims to be the largest free collection of public records databases on the Web. Formerly the PAC-Info. site, just click on a state and you'll get a list of all free public record collections for that state. Most include incorporation filings.

National Association of Secretaries of State: Corporate Backgrounders
The site offers many resources on business research.

BRB Public Records Online
A huge sites with links to free and pay public records sites.

Social Security Death Records

Public Records Online
Search state-by-state criminal records, real estate information and more.

Docusearch.com
This site claims to be "the place to find, locate & track down anybody! We offer locate searches, DMV driver & vehicle searches, telephone record searches, financial and bank searches, criminal and property records. Some searches are free, others you must pay for.

Public-Information.com
This site charges a fee. Search state/local criminal, DMV, prison records and more.

Legacy Tobacco Documents Library
A great database from Cal-San Francisco that contains 20 million fully searchable documents from the1930s to the 1990s -- previously secret stuff from tobacco industry files obtained as part of the Minnesota AG and Blue Cross lawsuit settled in 1998.

CIA Electronic Reading Room
Documents can be searched from the main page or via an advanced interface that allows you to limit a search by date.

Oatis.com Reporting Resources
A comprehensive resource for reporters on deadline, this site offers links and tips for finding pubic records, business coverage resources and tips on software and how it can be used by journalists. It is run by Jonathan Oatis, an American journalist working for Reuters in London.

CIA FOIA Search
A browsable list of Frequently Requested Records is also available.

Findlaw?s Breaking Documents Newsletter
A free e-mail newsletter updating journalists on the availability of public documents used in big, breaking news stories (Enron, war on terrorism, etc.)

Accurint
A backgrounder site in which a basic look-up is 25 cents. A full report, which includes past addresses, relatives, properties etc. is under $8. Find out where someone is living, what property they own, etc.

RecordsCheck.net

Discreet Research Inc.
Another pay site that search criminal, DMV and other records.

Acc-u-data
A for-profit searching organization that claims access to 41 public record databases that they will search for a fee.

Criminal-Records.com
Search federal court, divorce court, marriage licenses, military records and more.

ACLU's Freedom of Information Act Guide

Electronic Privacy Information Center
A government site that offers FOIA tips and more.

BlackVault.com
Government documents revealed by FOIAs.

Your Right to Federal Records
Brochure explains how you access records under FOIA.

National Freedom of Information Coalition
Organization info., tips, conferences and more.

Justice Department FOIA Guide
Good for anticipating the other side's arguments and interpretation of case history, especially when you are appealing a denial.

Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 2002
A guide for working through the FOIA/open government process. It is published by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

IRE: FOIA Resources

Forbes: America?s Most Philanthropic Corporations

PAC-Info Public Records Locator

411Locate Public Records Search Tool
Includes marriage and divorce records, business finders and background checks.

BRB Public Records Archive
A list of 650 state, county, city and federal (court) URL's where you can access public record information for free.

PublicRecordFinder
A list of more than 6,500 free public records sites.

PublicRecordSources.com
Hundreds of free sites, database sources, trade organizations and private investigators.

University of Missouri's Freedom of Information Center
Links, international FOIA laws and more.

Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press: FOIA Letter Generator
Just fill in the blanks.

Student Press Law Center: FOIA Letter Generator
Just fill in the blanks.

Opensecrets.org
A fantastic site for researching campaign finance statistics.

GAO: Update on Implementation of the 1996 Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendment
A good humor site aimed at the web audience.

SLA News Division: Surveys and Forms Section
Great resources for public documents and research.

Votenet.com
A fantastic site for researching campaign financing statistics.

CampaignFinance.org
Includes campaign finance research and a clearinghouse of key FOIA sites.

Lobbyist Database
Opensecrets.org, part of the Center for Reponsive Politics, has a database of registered lobbyists. Also tracks spending in particular sectors of lobbyists.

Special Interest Groups List
Opensecrets.org, part of the Center for Reponsive Politics, has downloadable lists of special-interest groups.

Council of Better Business Bureaus' Wise Giving Alliance (Give.org)

Charity Navigator
Another good charity evaluation site. Allows you to search alphabetically and by region.

Philanthropy.com: Organizations that Evaluate Charities
Breaks down the issues they look at when evaluating charities.

MinistryWatch.com
Evaluates more than 500 religion-based charities.

EPA's Toxic Release Inventory
"A publicly available EPA database that contains information on toxic chemical releases and other waste management activities reported annually by certain covered industry groups as well as federal facilities."

Cemetery Records Online
Maintains records from 4,307 cemeteries both nationwide and abroad. The site regularly updates users on which cemeteries have been added to their database.

Docusearch

Vital Records Online
An extensive list of adoption resources.

ACLU's Using The Freedom of Information Act: a Step-by-Step Guide
A primer on the Freedom of Information Act, including how to access agency records and how to make a FOIA request.

The Invisible Web: Public Records by State
An incredible resource Dozens of state-by-state databases, including marriage/divorce records, land holdings, schools, crime, etc.

U.S. City Directories
City directories, arguably one of the most over-looked resources by genealogists, have been around since the 1700s. This web site attempts to identify all printed, microfilmed, and online directories, and their repositories, for the United States.

Online Journalism Review's Tips on Using 990s

The Smoking Gun
This is a good FOIA site that claims to find documents that can't be found elsewhere on the Web. Its material is gleaned from government documents, court files, etc.

FOI Advocate
The University of Missouri's newsletter on using the Freedom of Information Act.

Search Municipal Databases
Crime, government, school districts and more. Updated with new additions on front page.

USGenWeb
This non-profit Web site provides links to Web sites for every county and state in the United States.

Getting Public Records Online
Some links and a great tip sheet from journalist Jon Oatis.

BRB Publications Inc.
A free site that links to free public records sites and national records retrieval companies.

Carroll's Government Directories and Charts
Tips on finding government agency Web sites, including labor boards, workers compensation boards, etc.

IQ Data Systems
Real estate information and full document retrieval from every U.S. jurisdiction.

International Association of Assessing
This site can direct you to a source who can help you find real estate records.

VitalChek Network
Certified copies of birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates.

Vital Records Information
Certified copies of birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates.

PFC Information Services Inc.
Site offers asset and liability searches, profiles of businesses and individuals.

Information America
Find civil court records.

Superior Information Services
Find civil court records in the Mid-Atlantic area.

CDB Infotek
Find civil court records in the Mid-Atlantic area.

Netronline Public Records

Public Records Online
Several state-by-state databases and public safety information.

MyFloridaCounties.com
Search many public records by Florida county.

PAC-Info Europe
Public records databases for many European countries.

UK Public Records Office
Public records databases for many European countries.

NICAR's FAA Aircraft Registry Sample
This site has examples and pay scale for full access to the database.

Roots Web
Provides a listing of searchable indexes for family history as well as a listing of federal and state resources, such as the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).

Birth Rates by Country
An Infoplease chart containing both years and "selected countries."

Social Security Administration

Securities & Exchange Commission

National Registry of Sex Offenders
Links to all the state sex offender databases run by state or local police. Search by zip code for names and addresses of sex offenders in a particular community. Some of these sites, such as Illinois have fairly complete databases. However, some have less than one-third of all sex offenders registered. Be sure to double-check any information you get.

National Archives and Records Administration Research Page
Sections for federal government, courts, textual records, microfilm, etc.

UC Berkeley Public Records Links
A super collection of helpful sites.

First Amendment Issues/Court Decisions
A Web site hosted by the Casper Star-Tribune that has a large collection of information on First Amendment issues. Topics include a weekly update on state and federal court and legislative decisions.

National Center for Education Statistics
A complete electronic catalog and fast facts.

Bureau of Labor Statistics
Employment, wages, unemployment broken down by region.

Social Security Administration Data on Women
A new site with demographic info. on women.

National Security Archive: Mexico's FOIA Law (June 2002)

Family Taxpayers Network
Look up Illinois teacher salaries at public schools. Helpful research tool.

Annenberg Public Policy Center
Press releases, background and tips on how to mine information on public policy issues.

Great Britain's Public Records Office

Great Britain's Hospital Records Office

UK: National Archives Public Records Office

Court Info. Database Online from the Iowa Judicial Branch

Related Toolbox Pages: Form 990s General Research Federal Government Business Crime Investigative/Backgrounding

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