Tag Archives: County Records

Historic Paper Repair

[This blog post was written by Emily Rainwater, Conservator for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

How would you fix a torn piece of paper without tape? One way might be to take another, smaller piece of paper and glue it on top of the tear. This actually forms the basis of modern conservation repair work, though Conservators take great care when choosing both the paper and adhesive. The repair paper is usually an extremely thin tissue with long fibers and excellent aging properties, while the adhesive will be non-staining and easily reversible even with age.


Historic paper repair on MC.150.1775m, c. 2

Historic paper repair on MC.150.1775m, c. 2


Another way would be to sew the tear back together. This is seen more commonly with parchment as it tends to be sturdier and less likely to tear further from the stitches. However, if the paper is good quality and in good condition, it can be sewn as well, as seen in this example from the Northampton County Apprentice Bonds.


Northampton County Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1797-1888, 071.101.2

Northampton County Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1797-1888, 071.101.2 (Front)

Northampton County Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1797-1888, 071.101.2

Northampton County Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1797-1888, 071.101.2 (Back)

If a historic repair is still working and functioning properly, I will frequently leave it intact. However, if it is damaging the paper, either because it has caused a new breaking point or was done using harmful materials, I may remove it and replace it with a more conservationally sound repair. In the case of this Apprentice Bond, both the paper and repair were in good condition, so the sewing was left intact.

Call Numbers for County Records at the State Archives

Carie Chesarino of the Records Description Unit (part of the Government Records Section) has written a post on our records management blog about how to search for county records by their call numbers in our online catalog, MARS.

The G.S. 132 Files

The County Records collection of the State Archives of North Carolina includes wills and estate files, tax scrolls, Superior Court judgment and minute dockets, and many more record series. In a previous blog post, I described one way to do a catalog search for archived county records. This post explains how to perform a call number search.

Begin at the State Archives’ public access catalog, MARS. If you have visited our catalog before, the page may default to the sort of search you last performed (Basic Search, Advanced Search, or Search by Call Number). Try selecting “Search by Call Number” in the blue box to the right of the screen:

select search by call number
For this example, select “Call Numbers starting” in the drop down box after “Search For:”

Call numbers starting

To retrieve search results for all the Alamance County records cataloged at the State Archives, enter CR.001. like in the image below and click “Search” :

Alamance Call Number search

Here are some…

View original post 141 more words

Perquimans County Records and Governors Papers

Two recent posts on our records management blog, G.S. 132 Files, may also be of interest to readers of this blog:

  • Six fibredex boxes of Perquimans County Poor House Records from 1843-1893 have been transferred to the State Archives. Read more…
  • Finding aids for the administrations of James B. Hunt, Jr., James G. Martin, Terry Sanford, and William B. Umstead are now available on our website. Read more…

Everyone’s Favorite Time of Year: Inventory

[This blog post was written by Becky McGee-Lankford, head of the Government Records Section. ]

A row of fibredex boxes in the State Records Center. One of our standard records storage cartons equals 1 cubic foot and one of the archival fibredex or Hollinger boxes equals 0.4 cu. ft.

One of our standard records storage cartons equals 1 cubic foot and one of the archival fibredex or Hollinger boxes equals 0.4 cu. ft.

It’s that time of year again. Every January the staff of the State Archives of North Carolina devotes three days (January 13-15) to inventorying our various collections.  This year we confirmed the location of approximately 29,700 cu. ft. of state agency, local, and organizational records in three of our storage facilities. While this is not the entirety of our holdings, the records inventoried this year consisted of the most frequently referenced series by researchers in our Search Room.  In addition to verifying the locations of our collections, we also utilized staff resources to work on several additional projects, including barcoding records stored in the State Records Center, and processing two local record series.

Recently barcoded boxes in the State Records Center

Recently barcoded boxes in the State Records Center.

In the past year the State Records Center integrated barcoding into the process of storing inactive records for state agencies. We are currently barcoding records as the boxes are transferred by agencies to the records center for storage.  We have also been working towards barcoding all records currently stored in our various storage facilities to more efficiently  allocate available storage space.  During inventory staff barcoded approximately 16,086 cu. ft. of records stored on the second floor of the State Records Center which is a substantial accomplishment in comparison to the 13,079 cu. ft. completed in November and December.  It proves that when you concentrate your efforts you can accomplish great things.

Finally staff processed (flattened, foldered, and data entry) for 17 cu. ft. of Durham County Wills, 1881-1966.  Out of the 17 cu. ft. staff created 4,314 files (120 fibredex boxes).   This project needs additional work before being integrated into the Archives collection.  Once the processing of this series is complete, it will be available for researchers to access through the Search Room. In addition, staff continued data entry of the New Hanover County Estates, 1747-1939 adding 358 files (10 fibredex boxes) to the container list. Click here for completed county records container lists.  Follow our blogs for progress reports on these collections.

I hope this blog post has given you some insight into part of the routine operations of the State Archives of North Carolina as we work to ensure the continued accessibility of North Carolina’s permanently valuable records.

Franklin County Records

[Below is a letter from Sarah Koonts, Director of the Division of Archives and Records.]

Dear Friends and Partners:

You may have heard about the recent destruction of local records stored in Franklin County’s courthouse basement. I can assure you that no one cares more about the history of this state or its documentary records than staff of the Division of Archives and Records.  We work hard every day with our partners to provide guidance and assistance to state and local officials concerning the routine management, preservation and disposition of their records.

If records are deemed to have permanent legal, evidentiary or historical value, the Archives is responsible for the long-term preservation of these records. In order to better understand how we interacted with Franklin County officials to provide this advice and guidance once they discovered a collection of water and mold damaged records in the courthouse basement, we are providing additional information on this chain of events. We hope this clears up misconceptions about the role of the Division of Archives and Records in this specific situation and others regarding the proper maintenance and destruction of public records.

The State Archives does not mandate destruction of records. In some instances, after consultation with the State Archives, local records creators can continue to maintain non-permanent records or transfer them to other entities (historical societies, public libraries, etc.).  Based on the professional opinion from the safety and health officer from the Administrative Office of the Courts, the mold situation in Franklin County made options such as these difficult. Ultimately, however, the local governmental agencies make the final decision on whether records not preserved by the State Archives are retained locally or destroyed.

In 2013 the Division of Archives and Records was notified by Franklin County representatives that government records dating from the 1880s through 1969 had been stored in the courthouse basement where a leaking air conditioner caused water damage to some of the records and exacerbated mold growth in the room. At the request of county officials, Division staff visited the Franklin County Courthouse August 21, 2013, to discuss the potential disposition of the records stored in the basement.

As is standard practice when government officials want to transfer or destroy inactive public records, we ask the custodial office to consult their approved records schedule. If they have additional questions or want to destroy records not identified on the records schedule, we require a full inventory. Based on the October 11, 2013 inventory submitted to our office by the Clerk of Superior Court, it was determined that a majority of the documents in the basement were financial records that were decades past the recommended period of retention. The remaining records fell under the custodianship of several local county offices including the County Manager, the Register of Deeds, and the Clerk of Superior Court. A substantial quantity of the remaining records contained confidential information, including personally identifiable and medical information.

Many of the records in question have been eligible for destruction since the 1960s and have routinely been destroyed in other counties in the state in accordance with the schedule. For example, records mentioned in several blog posts, such as the delayed birth certificate applications and the old marriage license health certificates have been routinely destroyed by schedule as the information is duplicated in other records or non-archival. Furthermore, the confidential information contained in these records mean that only the custodial agency could retain them. They could never be given to a local historical society or library. Again, based on information given to our office, we verified the appropriate retention period for all records on the list provided. The State Archives took custody of 15 cubic feet of civil and criminal case files, 4 volumes of justice dockets, Criminal Court (1960s), and 1 volume of Records of Magistrates (1880s) with the permission of the Clerk of Superior Court and the Administrative Office of the Courts. Since these records were exposed to active mold we are taking every precaution recommended prior to reformatting these materials. We also asked that if additional archival records were discovered in the basement that we be notified so that we could assume custody. The final decision of the date and method of destruction for the remaining records lies with the local officials, and questions about the actual destruction should be relayed to them.

Not every piece of paper can be saved from every government office in North Carolina without creating an undue burden on government offices and taxpayers. That is the nature of records management – to work under professional standards with records creators to determine overarching series of records that document the actions of governments, protect the legal rights of citizens, and inform the history of our state.

The State Archives of NC has been preserving North Carolina history for more than 110 years.  We have one of, if not the most, comprehensive collections of state and local government records in any state of the country, including a substantial collection of permanently valuable Franklin County records that are available for public access, such as 101 volumes, 176 fibredex boxes and 1,066 microfilm reels of records. We are proud to continue this tradition of preservation and access to the permanently valuable records of the state.

The State Archives of North Carolina remains committed to preserving our state’s records.


Sarah Koonts
Director, Division of Archives and Records
N.C. Department of Cultural Resources