Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Family History Mission: Watching Time Destroy the Records

Messy Book Cover

No. 59

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission James Tanner" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them or click back through all the posts.

This is the cover to one of the record books from the Maryland State Archives. It is part of the probate records for Harford County, Maryland from the early 1800s. This clerk apparently had a lot of time and not much paper. The inside of this book contains hundreds of probate transactions and records perhaps thousands of the names of the people who lived at that time with other important, genealogically significant information. This particular book came as part of a series of books that took extra care because they were in such poor condition.

From this book cover, you can see that without the efforts of the archivists to save and preserve these court records, much of the information would have been lost. You can also see that without this digitization project, some of the records would soon be lost despite conservation efforts. Here is another example of the condition of some of these books.

Another Messy Book
The challenge of digitizing these books is that turning the pages has to be done very carefully so as to avoid damaging the book further. Here is an example of a book that had water damage that turned into mold damage.

Mold Damage
It is not all bad. Most of the books, even back into the 1700s or early 1800s are in excellent shape. Here is an example of an old book in excellent condition.

When you realize that all this important information has been "locked up" in these books, some for over 200 years, you can begin to understand how important this work is and how much time and effort is involved.

We are glad to serve and have a good time digitizing and prepping the books and records.

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