While this blog post and news article focuses on Tuscaloosa County, who among us can’t name several more counties with the same issue? You can see still shots of the Bibb County “attic” here. The Chilton County “basement” is infamous among those of us who research in Chilton County. And as for Jefferson County – well just where are all of the “missing” circuit court records?
The State Archives in Montgomery does not have the funding or resources to be a repository for all of these records. There are alternatives – some good examples of what can be done are the Shelby County Historical Archives and Museum, the Ashville Museum and Archives (St. Clair County), and the Baldwin County Archives to name a few. In these counties people got involved and worked with the local governments to preserve the records of the county and at the same time make them available to researchers. Some of these archives are under the auspices of the local government and some are sponsored by the local genealogical and/or historical society.
Those of us who do not live in the counties where our ancestors originated are at somewhat of a disadvantage. This is not a cop-out or shedding of any responsibility – just a statement of fact, those of us who research long-distance primarily with maybe occasional visits do not have the same “pull” a person living locally has with the local government. We (long-distance researchers) can support through dollars and support/send letters, but we need the local residents to spear-head the effort.
I end this blog post asking everyone to get involved locally – join your local genealogical or historical society and find out about the condition of the records in your county. If the records are not being stored properly ask your local government what can be done. You may not live where your ancestors once lived, but someone’s ancestors lived where you do now.