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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Should Genealogists Continue to Visit Court Houses? #kentuckypioneers

Should Genealogists Continue to Visit Court Houses?

WillsShould one continue to visit the old court houses, especially considering all of the genealogy added to the internet? I have been visiting court houses since 1964 and have to tell you that some pretty uncomfortable changes have occurred. The labor force is a problem. In some instances, those who work in the office of the clerk of the probate court do not know what a last will and testament is, much less how to find the old will books. Another disturbance is the sloppy manner in which the old books are treated. If most of these counties had not been microfilmed in the 1950s, the information would be lost. Faded ink, moisture damage and the like make certain records virtually impossible to photocopy. Another issue is "off-site storage". We are in the age of having to store old books because of a shortage of space. When I recently visited a court house in Georgia, I had to wait several days for the "off-storage" books to be sent to the court house! This was really inconvenient, since I had travelled there from Atlanta. Some of the old books are finding a home in local historical societies while others are in the possession of the State Archives. How would one know these things? Additionally, in the old days a clerk might take a book home to work on it and this maneuver prevented it from being included in a fire. Occasionally some court house books show up in antique stores and attics! These things exist. What I am saying here is that all records were not microfilmed. Yet all is not lost, however. Avid researchers, like myself, seek such collections. Some of these private collections are reflected in my books and in databases on Kentucky Pioneers. Happy hunting to members! 

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