Series 3932
District Court (Third District : Salt Lake County) Adoption record books

Dates: i 1884-1917.

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These records are housed in the Utah State Archives' permanent storage room.

Historical Note

An agency history is available.

Scope and Content

In March of 1884, the Utah Territorial legislature enacted provisions for the adoption of children. Prior to that date there were provisions for indenturing children and for assigning guardians in the case of deceased parents, but none for formal adoption. These record books provide a copy of the probate court proceedings in individual adoption cases in Salt Lake County from 1884 to 1917.

Entries for a typical case include signed statements of the natural parents, the adoptive parents, the witnesses, and the child if of sufficient age. The parents or other persons having control over the child were required to voluntarily relinquish all right to custody and control of the child and all claim to the services and wages of the child. The person desiring to adopt the child was also to make a written statement that he or she was voluntarily adopting the child and could stipulate that the child receive the legal status, including inheritance rights, of a natural child. In the case of married couples, both husband and wife had to agree in order to give a child for adoption, or to adopt a child. If the child was over the age of fourteen, the child's consent was also required. All statements were made in the presence of two witnesses and before the probate judge. The statements at times record some family particulars including date of birth of child; legitimacy, abandonment, death of one of the parents, divorce, or other factors in the adoption; age of adoptive parents; etc.

After public notice was made, a hearing was held at which the judge decreed the adoption, provided that the judge determined that such adoption was in the best interest of the child. The judge's findings of fact and decree of adoption are also recorded, noting the child's new name, which might involve a change of given name as well as surname.

With statehood in 1896, jurisdiction in adoption cases passed to the district court. The procedure remained basically the same, although particulars were refined. The child's consent was necessary if twelve. The parents had to be 10 years older than the child. Provisions were also made for the adoption of deserted children, and the services and wages clause was dropped. Following adoption, the child assumed the surname of the adoptive parents and received the legal status, including inheritance rights, of a natural child. The natural parents continued to forfeit all rights.

These separate record books end in 1917. Thereafter, the records were kept as part of the general SALT LAKE COUNTY PROBATE RECORD BOOKS of the Third District Court. At times, the record books will note that the case is also recorded in another register; this refers to the ESTATE REGISTERS.


Volumes are chronological by date of initial case entries and are labeled alphabetically.

Related Records

Probate record books from the District Court (Third District : Salt Lake County), Series 3372, contain the same adoption information after 1917.

Probate minutes from the District Court (Third District : Salt Lake County), Series 3938, summarizes the cases contained in this series.

Adoption record books from the District Court (Third District : Salt Lake County), Series 3991.

Access Restrictions

This series is classified as Exempt: Rule 4-202.02(11), CJA; adoptions are sealed for 100 years..

Preferred Citation

Cite the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the creating agency name, the series title, and the series number.

Finding Aids

Indexes: The volumes include indices by the first letter of the child's natural or adoptive surname, but not by both, covering from October 15, 1884 thru 1917.

Indexing Terms

  • Adoption—Salt Lake County (Utah).

Container List

1 1 Vol. A; 1884 Jul 15 - 1902 Feb 14
1 2 Vol. B; 1902 Mar 04 - 1909 Nov 23
1 3 Vol. C; 1909 Dec 01 - 1913 Jul 21
2 3 Vol. C; 1913 Jul 21 - 1914 Nov 12
2 3 Vol. D; 1914 Oct 09 - 1917 Oct 31

Page Last Updated October 18, 2012.