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Regular readers of The UncommonWealth, as well as seasoned local records researchers, are likely familiar with the Lost Records Localities Digital Collection. We have covered this ongoing digital project several times in the blog. Well, recently the Lost Records (our affectionate nickname) has gotten a bit of a remodel to make it both more discoverable and more useable to researchers.

First, the digital collection now has a LibGuide to help orient new users and provide context for the materials found in the collection. Unlike the old research note that grouped the localities by extent of loss, the current LibGuide lists the localities alphabetically with notes on the extent and method of records loss.

The LibGuide contains a search box for searching the collection directly. The collection is also searchable through the catalog along with the Library’s other resources, but if you are only interested in searching Lost Records directly, you can bookmark the LibGuide to make that process easier.

Finally, the Lost Records Localities Digital Collection is now being delivered primarily through our new digital asset management and preservation system, Rosetta. However, when lost records are found in chancery causes, we are instead providing a link out to the Chancery Records Index (CRI) so that users can see the fuller picture.

For example, rather than searching Lost Records and finding only the four-page 1798 Nottoway County will of Thomas R. Williams, the Lost Records catalog record now links to the entire digitized Lynchburg City chancery cause that includes a copy of Williams’ will. Williams’ heirs initiated the suit because of a dispute over Williams’ estate, so researchers will surely benefit from the additional historical and genealogical information contained in the court case.

If a researcher is only interested in the lost record, however, the image numbers in the digitized chancery cause are included so that they can skip right to the document. Both the individual document pages and the entire case file can be freely downloaded from the CRI.

While we have not yet retroactively added links to all lost records found in chancery causes, moving forward all documents found in chancery causes will link to the full digitized chancery cause.

The most recent addition of Lost Records includes:

  • Botetourt County (wills, deeds, and judgments)
  • Buckingham County (judgments, deeds, chancery records, and wills)
  • Prince William County (wills and deeds)
  • Elizabeth City County (wills and deeds)
  • King and Queen County (a will and a judgment)
  • Spotsylvania County (will)
  • Prince George County (wills)
  • Culpeper County (will)
  • Nottoway County (will)

We will announce future additions to the Lost Records Localities Digital Collection through our social media channels and blog. We are hopeful that this new interface and functionality will enhance the value of the collection for users researching localities with records loss.

Vince Brooks

Local Records Program Manager

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