The Early Los Angeles Court Transcript Collection (1885-1904) consists of transcripts of court cases in Los Angeles, California from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The collection contains some transcripts of trials, but the majority of documents are transcripts of the testimony for preliminary examinations. The court cases in the collection deal with a broad range of topics including fraud, burglary, grand larceny, rape, incest, murder, assault with a deadly weapon, embezzlement, perjury, bribery, and libel. The various crimes and court proceedings take place throughout the Los Angeles area including Redondo, Covina, San Dimas, Compton, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Los Angeles, and Pomona.
Featuring the recorded testimonies of many former local residents, this collection offers a glimpse into life in Los Angeles at the turn of the last century. Many of the burglary charges are for the theft of horses, cows, and bicycles, with one man accused of assault with a deadly weapon after a dispute over a card game in a saloon. There are also several instances of now archaic charges including several "infamous crime[s] against nature," cases dealing with homosexuality, and one case of a man, George Kirsch, being charged with "furnishing liquor to Indians" in May of 1895. The collection includes testimony from a particularly notorious case in its time: The People of the State of California vs. Hattie Woolsteen. Woolsteen was accused of murdering her lover Charles Harlan in a barn, and setting the barn on fire in order to conceal her crime.
Also documented in the collection is the jurisdiction of different courts within the various townships in Los Angeles County in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These include the Justice's Court of Compton Township, the Justice's Court of Santa Monica Township, the Justice's Court of Los Angeles Township, and the Justice's Court of San Jose Township which represented an area containing Pomona, Claremont, and La Verne. This collection is arranged chronologically.