How to Find Public Records in Florida
Public Records Search: Florida
Florida’s State Archives may be accessed by visiting
Unlike many state archival sites, Florida’s is organized in a
search-friendly fashion providing considerable access to researchers
attempting to locate public records and information.
Florida’s State Archives operate under a mandate to accumulate,
preserve, and provide public access to “historically significant records
of the state, as well as private manuscripts, local government records,
photographs, and other materials that complement the official state
The Archive’s core collection takes up the better part of 30,000
cubic feet; records from 1821 to the present can be found at the Florida
State Archives. The Florida State Archives is located at R.A. Gray
Building, 500 South Bronough Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250.
They are open Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM and on
Saturdays from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM. When performing research on
Saturdays, it is best to call on Friday to order records you will want
to research. Saturday staff is limited, so it is important to make
contact before you visit to ensure that the necessary documents can be
procured for your perusal. Of course, not everyone can make a trip to
the physical holdings.
Fortunately, a great deal of online research can be conducted through
this website and many records and other materials can be obtained with
the help of staff and by doing your own part in the research process.
According the website researchers “may contact the Archives to request
the Archives staff to conduct limited research for specific information.
Archives staff will search indexed records and books for a maximum of
thirty minutes per request.”
Researchers planning to perform online searches can expect to find
the following archival collections: local government records, state
government records, manuscript collections, Civil War records, military
service and pension records, Florida Folklife collection and many more.
Among the online collections researchers have more specific access to
WWI service records, Florida Confederate pension applications,
photographs, Spanish land grants, etc...Ideally, researchers may procure
what information they require from the online databases; however, since
all is not archived electronically, it may be necessary to submit a
request from Archives staff.
Of course, when conducting a search for any type of public record
contained by the archives, go to the main page and click on the link for
“online catalog.” This is a complete catalog of the archive’s holdings.
There is one data entry box where researchers can enter any keyword or
name. For instance, words like deeds, marriage, vital, welfare, pension
can be searched as well as any name search like “Smith, Mary” or “Jones,
Davy.” As a sample search for the purposes of this tutorial, enter the
keyword “marriage.” The search mechanism will reveal result page(s) for
your specific query. This particular search, while broad, draws on a
multitude of information. Some of the results from this search include
State Board of Pensions, Florida
Combined Indexes of Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths for various
years, Census Records, etc… The listing for each result includes the
record / group number, series / collection number, creator (such as the
Office for Vital Records), title, dates, and the amount (how much
microform for instance). Searchers can scroll through the listings to
find what they are looking for. If a particular result looks promising,
click on the blue number preceding the listing to find more specific
articles about the result. When you click on the link for more specific
information, you will find listings denoting organization, restrictions
(if there are any, such as too fragile for handling), terms governing
use, biographical or historical summaries, main summary, finding aids,
physical form (microfilm for instance), reproduction note, location of
originals and duplicates, language notes, electronic access status and
The amount of detailed information allows researchers to narrow down
their queries to specific titles in specific locations of the archives.
The online catalog allows researchers to accurately find where their
information is located. This enables searchers to find their materials
as well as to provide accurate instructions for archived staff should
their services be needed for making copies.
When requesting copies for materials, note the fee schedule. While
there appears to be no charge for requests, there are duplication
charges. Check the fee schedule for your particular format copy. All in
all, the Florida State Archives provides a detailed site that is far
easier to navigate than similar archival sites. The main page offers
links to other information and collections that may be useful to
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