A group of Library of Virginia (LVA) archivists recently traveled to Staunton, Virginia, to visit the Augusta County courthouse. Their goal was to transfer more than 300 boxes of the county’s earliest chancery records in order to begin a large digital scanning project. Their lunchtime reward was the giant meringue pie at The Beverley restaurant two blocks away.
Augusta County’s chancery records hold special importance to Virginia and the country. The collection begins in 1745 and covers a period of time when the county stretched north to the Great Lakes and west to the Mississippi River – a large part of the early American frontier. County court was often held in what is now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The scope of the scanning project is enormous and will result in close to a million digital images being added to the Chancery Records Index (CRI) on Virginia Memory. LVA Local Records archivists will review the more than 340 legal-sized Hollinger boxes to ensure that they are up to current processing standards. These boxes comprise the part of the chancery collection from 1745 to 1866. In June 2008, a team of archivists at the LVA completed a processing and indexing project that yielded an additional 659 legal-sized Hollinger boxes of Augusta County chancery, covering the years 1867-1912.
Scanning more than 1,000 boxes of Augusta County chancery records will not be inexpensive. The majority of the cost of the project will be borne by the LVA’s Circuit Court Records Preservation Program (CCRP). Additionally, archivists in the LVA’s Local Records department have applied for a National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) grant to support the project. The NHRPC is the funding arm of the National Archives and Records Administration.
We will continue to provide updates as we prepare this collection for digitization. Several archivists plan to return to Staunton as tourists this summer and, of course, have another slice of pie.
– Dale Dulaney, Local Records Archival Assistant