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Letters Received by the Attorney General, 1809-1879 Western Law and Order

Location: Microfilm HV 8144 M37 L4 1995


“This collection focuses on the representatives of the federal government charged with upholding the U.S. Constitution and supporting federal courts in territories west of the Mississippi River. The collection comprises the correspondence files of the U.S. attorney general—letters from U.S. attorneys, U.S. marshals, federal courts, state or territorial officials, and private citizens. The collection documents institutional development in the following states or territories: Arizona Territory, Arkansas, California, Colorado Territory, Dakota Territory, Idaho Territory, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana Territory, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico Territory, Oregon, Texas, Utah Territory, Washington Territory, and Wyoming Territory. Present-day Oklahoma was administered through the Western District of Arkansas and other adjoining jurisdictions.

Researchers will find primary source material about:

  • Establishment of law and order in the territories
  • Enforcement of fugitive slave laws
  • Civil War–era rebellions
  • Lawsuits brought against military personnel by private citizens
  • Border conflicts between the United States and Mexico
  • Questionable financial activities of territorial officials and military personnel
  • Piracy cases
  • Demands made by citizens to remove a U.S. marshal or federal judge
  • Vigilance committees
  • Removal of settlers from Indian reservations” (LexisNexis)

How to search the collection

“The collection is arranged chronologically within each state by source or topic of correspondence.” (LexisNexis) Some sections are further divided by name of individuals or geographic jurisdiction, such as Southern District.  There is a guide which has a subject index, reel index and principal correspondents index.


The Guide to the Microfilm Edition of Letters Received by the Attorney General, 1809-1870, Western Law and Order.  Microfilm  HV 8144 M37 L4 1995 Guide.