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Digitizing Court Documents

Volunteers help digitize hundreds of boxes of Allen County‚??s historical court documents. Beginning on February 19th, over 20 volunteers from FamilySearch began a lengthy project to make several of these historical documents accessible to the public via their internet based genealogical search system. Many of the documents to be digitized are dated from the 19th Century and have been stored in the Courthouse‚??s basement for decades.

Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Volunteers Stephanie Manter, right, Rick Blossom and Kathy Smierciak sort through 19th-century court documents Wednesday that will be digitized and later made available online.

Court documents go digital

Process will shed light on historic files

Allen County Clerk Lisbeth Borgmann announced a plan Wednesday to review and digitize hundreds of boxes of the county’s historical court documents.

Partnering with FamilySearch, historically known as the Genealogical Society of Utah, the process will make a number of these documents available to the public through the organization’s Web-based genealogical search system.

Many of the documents the organization will work with date from the 1800s and are housed in the Courthouse’s basement, where they have been for decades.

The records, which are considered permanent, must be maintained in their paper form, so the county isn’t freeing up any storage space with the digitization project.

It is not the first time the group has been in Fort Wayne, Borgmann said. FamilySearch’s volunteers were in Allen County in the mid-1990s. FamilySearch, the largest genealogical organization in the world, is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church.

The last time the group was in Allen County, they stayed for about a year and put a number of documents on microfilm, Borgmann said. The plan this time is for them to work on the project for about two years, and it will cost the county nothing, she said.

“It’s going to be a really big long-term project,” she said.

Though the organization is scanning the documents for its own online database, which contains more than 3 billion names from around the world, according to its website, the county will also be able to put the documents online.

“We want to make the information available to people,” Borgmann said. “I think it’s a really great project.”

rgreen@jg.net

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