Historians who venture beyond the traditional realms of political or diplomatic history find themselves similarly venturing beyond traditional sources for their history. This has been particularly true of the social historian, who undertakes the elusive task of understanding "history from the bottom up," or history of the "inarticulate." In looking beyond those traditional sources, all manner of evidence is legitimate, subject to the usual rules of verification and professional scrutiny. For the historian tempted to use court records, there are realities with which to cope, but much enlightenment for the persistent. Initially, the court and the court records represent an almost forbidding world.
Armstrong, Thomas F.,
"Legal Records and Historical Gossip: The Records of the Social Historian,"
Provenance, Journal of the Society of Georgia Archivists
Available at: http://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/provenance/vol4/iss1/4