Guide to the Probate Records of Alaska, 1885-1960. Creator: U.S. Commissioners, Alaska District Courts

Collection summary: This index represents approximately 17,000 probate cases administered in the
district court system which served Alaska from 1884 until the Alaska State Court system was
established in 1960.

Organizational history: From 1879 until 1884 the Alaska territory operated under a rudimentary
judicial structure. The Organic Act of 1884, created the District of Alaska under the Dept. of the
Interior served by district courts and U.S. Commissioners. Commissioners served as both justices of
the peace and probate judges. One U.S. Commissioner served the entire District from Sitka in 1884;
by the time of statehood there were four district courts and approximately sixty commissioners. The
first probate court took place in 1885. Approximately 25,000 more cases were heard by the district
courts before a state court system was established in 1960.

Collection description: Cases include estates, guardianship of minors, adoptions, search and rescue,
sanity hearings. Files may contain estate inventories, burial expense accounts, notices and claims of
creditors, proofs of heirs, wills, oaths, bonds, missing persons inquiries, coroner’s inquests, testimony
and affidavits, accounts of administrators. Many records were destroyed by fire, natural disaster or
neglect prior to statehood and so the Archives does not have all probate records.

Extent: 16,985 case files or dockets in various record groups and series.

Arrangement: The index is arranged alphabetically and includes last and first name, case number if
available, precinct, type of case, date, whether docket or a case file, and the location of either or both
if available.

Restrictions on access: Adoption, juvenile, sanity hearings are restricted. Permission to access must
be obtained from the Probate Office, Anchorage Judicial District. Preferred Citation: Probate case files, Alaska State Archives, Juneau, Alaska.

Related Materials: Some territorial case files may be filed with other institutions in Alaska. Inquire
at the Probate Office of the Alaska Court System, Anchorage or the National Archives and Records
Administration, Anchorage. The Archives has received a few additional probate cases since this
index was created.

Custodial history: The Alaska State Court system received custody of the Commissioners’ records
and subsequently transferred them to the Alaska State Archives.

Works used in preparation of inventory: All information in this inventory was taken from “Guide
to the probate records of Alaska, 1885-1960,” by John Stewart, Steve McCarthy and Karen Matter,
Alaska State Archives, c2000, available in libraries throughout the State and in the Archives Reading

Files Listed as: Last name First name Case # Precinct Case Type Date Title 1 pre Loc Page # 1 Title 2 pre Loc Page # 2 Title 3 pre Loc Page #3 Notes

Probate Index For:

A - E, F - I, J - L, M - O, P - R, S - U, V - Y

For more information Contact:

Alaska State Archives
PO Box 110525
141 Willoughby Avenue
Juneau, Alaska 99811-0525 USA

(907) 465-2270