Volume 36 , Number 4 , Spring 1997
In 1992 I conducted a Local Records Program project in the Douglas County courthouse and the Society published an account of the work in the Quarterly. Included in this special notice was an appeal for volunteers to organize approximately one cubic foot of fire-damaged records that were salvaged after an 1886 courthouse fire. The work required meticulous care and the Local Records Program offered to film these rare records for public use.
In spring 1996 I received a call from Springfield businessman Paul Barker who had read the appeal in the Quarterly Barker had family roots in Douglas County, was interested in the records, and learning that they needed processing, offered his services.
Mr. Barker met me in Ava and began by identifying each record and sorting according to county office of origin. He established a chronological sequence, as much as possible, within each office. Pages lacking dates were organized using the continuation of sentences from page to page, the color of the ink and handwriting patterns, and burn patterns. (Pages next to each other at the time of the fire had similar burn patterns around the edges.) Circuit court
records constituted the majority of pages and these were separated by month. The records, very brittle in nature, were placed into acid-neutral folders and labeled. We stored the processed records in the office of Circuit Clerk/Recorder Tommy Roberts to await preservation microfilming by the Secretary of State program.
In October 1996 I took the records to Jefferson City. The silver master film is now stored in the vault of the State Archives, and the original records, now housed in an archival box custom-made by the conservation lab, were returned to Douglas County. The Local Records Program sent copies of the microfilm for use locally by the elected officials, Douglas County Historical Society, and the Douglas County Library. We placed a film copy with the Ozarks Genealogical Society, Springfield, where Paul Barker is an active member.
All locales have precious few historical documents.. .to imagine the past, we need as many as can be preserved. I know our Society takes our hat off to Mr. Barker and hopes that more civic members will emulate his model. There is a lot of work to do.
CopyrightÓ White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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