February 28, 2009 – BGS Meeting – Loose Records Project in Jefferson County

The Birmingham Genealogical Society meets the fourth Saturday of each month (excluding Nov. & Dec.) in the Arrington Auditorium at the Downtown Birmingham Public Library.  Guests are encouraged to attend!

Next meeting: Saturday, February 28th at 2 p.m.  Refreshments at 1:30 p.m.

Speaker: Gary Gerlach, BGS Parlamentarian and coordinator of the Jefferson County Loose Records project

Program Topic: Loose Records Project in Jefferson County

Details: www.birminghamgenealogy.org or BPL-Southern History Dept. at (205) 226-3665

The Loose Records Project is a national, county by county, volunteer program to make older public court records more available to historians, genealogists and the general public.

At the state level, it is coordinated through the Alabama State Archives and locally with the approval of the Jefferson County Probate and Circuit Courts. Gary Gerlach, BGS Parliamentarian, coordinates the Jefferson County project. Gary has outlined the project as follows: “In 1999 members of our group cleaned, organized, and catalogued the court records of Shelby County.  From 2001 to 2005 our group organized 22,262 Jefferson County Probate Court files (1860s to 1936).  Both projects were funded by the county Probate Court system.  A CD index was created for the Jefferson County records and was distributed free to the courts, local libraries and museums.  The Genealogical Society of Utah microfilmed the Jefferson County Probate Court files (512 reels) to make them available world-wide. In August 2005, we began working on the pre-1920 Jefferson County Circuit Court cases. These records are important to the legal profession, historians and genealogists. Wills, divorces, bankruptcies, business disputes and property settlements name family members, neighbors and business partners.  The maps, newspapers, booklets and pictures included as supporting evidence, bring the history alive. There is no index for pre-1908 Jefferson County Circuit Court records and only a partial index for the 1908-16 records.  We have identified 90 boxes of approximately 100 files each that pre-date 1900 and 169 more boxes that predate 1917.  (Only 6 boxes of files dated between 1916 and 1939 are known to exist.)  The files are slowly disintegrating and the hand written script is fading.  Records are flattened, cleaned and cataloged and will be scanned into an Alabama State Court database located in Montgomery to be made available on-line.”

Please join us as Gary Gerlach discusses the accomplishments and current undertakings of the Loose Records Project in Jefferson County.

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