County Record Disposal Concerns Historian

Yesterday I mentioned an article about some old records found in a high school and donated to a local history organization. In an ironic twist, the Reporter-Times (Martinsville, Indiana) has an article by Amy Hillenburg that is the exact opposite: County record disposal concerns historian. This is one of those areas where even though genealogists and historians (and archivists if we want to get technical) have all of these modern tools for preserving important documents, those documents can still be easily lost forever.

Excerpts from the article:

There could be growing gaps in Morgan County’s public records, according to county historian Sam Cline, if the proper process is not followed in storing, reviewing, microfilming and destroying them.

It concerns him that in 1969 and again in 2005, old record books were thrown into a dumpster for disposal and burning…..some of the tax records dumped recently were actually property of the Morgan County History and Genealogy Association. The fact that historians were not informed of the action makes him wonder what other valuable ledgers and record books are in jeopardy.

In the 1960s, Cline was doing research in the Morgan County Recorder’s office in the courthouse. Thelma Gray was Recorder at the time. She showed him a sight that still haunts him – a room on the third floor where people had merely opened the door and started throwing county records into it.

“I picked up a small book with a real leather cover and no information on the spine or cover and I opened it. The book was the original 1847 tax records for Morgan County,” Cline said.

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