Local Records Preservation Program
Missouri local governments generate records documenting the rights of citizens, government actions and the history of the community. The mission of the Local Records Preservation Program is to assist local governments with the preservation of historical and vital records and recommend techniques for the efficient management of current records.
To that end, Local Records staff members work with local governments to:
- dispose of extraneous records based on retention schedules
- create computerized record inventories
- microfilm records to reclaim office space and ensure long-term preservation of those with permanent/historical value
- conduct workshops in records and archival management practices
- co-sponsor grant projects
- perform conservation treatments in the lab at the State Archives
- advise on preservation of records
These activities promote long-term public records management and improve public access to the records, preserve the social compact and ensure transparency of government activity.
The Local Records Program operates in three functional areas. Field archivists work directly with local officials in the areas of archival practice and records management. The grant program funds projects to preserve public records. The conservation staff provides professional preservation advice and conservation treatment. Selected professionals in these areas also serve on committees to advise the agency’s Missouri Digital Heritage Initiative for planning access to collections statewide.
Local Field Archivists
The core of the Local Records Program is on-site work conducted throughout the state by field archivists. These professionals advise, educate and assist local records custodians in sound records management and archival practices.
Field Archivist working in Palmyra City Hall to organize
records and arrange destructions.
In FY2010 archivists consulted with the following units of local government:
- cities of Ava, Columbia, Ellisville, Elsberry, Gladstone, Greenwood, Hazelwood, Kansas City, Kirksville, Kirkwood, Lamar, Lebanon, Lee’s Summit, Moberly, Moline Acres, Niangua, Osborn, Palmyra, Pleasant Hill, Riverside, Rolla, St. Charles, St. Louis, Seymour, Springfield, Steelville, Tallapoosa, Warrensburg, Wentzville
- circuit courts in Boone, Butler, Cedar, Clinton, Cooper, Daviess, Howard, Howell, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Morgan, Osage, Pettis, Platte, Polk, Ray, Scott, St. Charles, St. Louis, Shelby and Vernon counties
- probate courts of Callaway, Cass, Clinton, Cedar, Daviess, Franklin, Howell, Lincoln, New Madrid, and Warren counties and St. Louis City
- executive government officials in Andrew, Boone, Butler, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Cedar, Clay, Clinton, Cole, Daviess, Harrison, Lafayette, Lincoln, Linn, Macon, Mercer, McDonald, Moniteau, Ozark, Platte, Ray, Reynolds, St. Charles, St. Francois, Sullivan, Taney and Webster counties
- county archives, historical societies, and other facilities holding public records, including the Audrain County Historical Society, Bonniebrook Historical Society, Cape Girardeau County Archives, Cass County Historical Society, Current River Heritage Museum, Department of Natural Resources Land Survey, Emmaus House, Gasconade County Historical Society, Greene County Archives, Johnson County Historical Society, Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society, Lutheran Heritage Center, Miller County Historical Society, Northland Genealogical Society, Polk County Historical Society, Powers Museum, St. Charles County Historical Society, St. Louis County Records Center, Stoddard County Historical Society, White River Valley Historical Society and William Jewell College Archives.
Inventories and Dispositions
The sheer volume of records in government offices often makes it difficult to locate documents when they are requested. This is particularly true of records considered “old” or of uncertain value. Archivists assist local officials by determining the content of their holdings, identifying those records that may be legally discarded and producing computerized inventories of records with current, permanent, or enduring historical value, thereby allowing officials to reclaim valuable office and storage space. In FY2010 staff conducted inventory projects in the City of Elsberry, City of Osborn, and Butler, Mercer, Platte and Sullivan counties.
Preservation and Access Projects
Judicial records –In the past fiscal year, Local Records archivists continued their efforts to identify, preserve and make accessible important aspects of Missouri’s history that exist in judicial records.
Counties with projects underway in FY2010 included Bates, Boone, Butler, Callaway, Cape Girardeau, Cedar, Cooper, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Howard, Howell, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Morgan, New Madrid, Osage, Platte, Polk, Ray, St. Charles, Shelby, Vernon, Warren, Webster, and the City of St. Louis.
The availability of these records allows researchers to gain a deeper understanding of how local, regional and national issues impacted the everyday lives of Missourians. The topics and themes include slavery, the Civil War, domestic and social relations, economic development, transportation, and frontier history. Several of the projects currently underway (including those in Franklin, Gasconade, Lincoln, New Madrid and St. Charles counties) have records dating to the beginning of statehood. Many of these projects have revealed previously unknown information, substantially altering and augmenting what we know of early Missouri history.
Provost Marshal records – Archivists completed indexing the Missouri portion of the War Department Collection of Confederate Records entitled Union Provost Marshals’ File of Papers Relating to Individual Citizens, 1861-1866. (Originals are housed at the National Archives.) The collection contains tens of thousands of documents detailing the way the provost marshals affected the lives of Missouri citizens who came into contact with the Union Army during the Civil War and shortly afterwards. This database, along with the index to Union Provost Marshals’ File of Papers Relating to Two or More Civilians, 1861-1866, is available on the Archives website at http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/provost.
The Local Records Grant Program, which began in 1992, awards funds to local governments based on competitive applications for eligible records management and document preservation projects. Recipients may receive up to 70% of the total project cost in grant funds. A local funding match of at least 30% is required.
The Missouri Historical Records Advisory Board (MHRAB) establishes policy and reviews proposals. Since the program’s inception, the agency has awarded 1,042 grants, totaling over $6,500,000, for records management and document preservation around the state. Additional information about the grant program is posted online at http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/localrecs/grants. Due to a decline in revenue the program was suspended for FY10.
While Local Records field archivists attempt to forestall damage to public records by assisting in the implementation of sound records practices, sometimes the damage has already been done. Conservators treat documents that have suffered damage due to aging or poor storage conditions and are in need of repair. They also provide information and educational programs.
The Local Records Program manages the state's only publicly-funded conservation lab for treatment of paper records. The professional conservators provide chemical and physical treatments to repair and preserve unique, historically important documents in the State Archives holdings and in local and state government offices.
The typical course of treatment involves evaluation of condition, surface-cleaning, removal of tape and other old “mends,” washing, mending with Japanese paper and wheat paste, encapsulation and (sometimes) construction of customized housing. Conservators treated a variety of significant records from local and state government. In all cases, items leave the conservation lab more physically and chemically stable than when they came into the lab.
Gasconade County Historical Society discovered the foundational deed for the City of Hermann, written on parchment. LR staff helped the Society work with a private conservator for treatment and fabricated this customized housing.
In support of the state Board of Nursing, the conservators treated two of the Board’s earliest documents so they could be displayed safely during centennial events.
In September 2009, a team of LR administrators, historians, archivists and conservators visited the Department of Natural Resources Land Survey Office to evaluate their antebellum plats and maps of Missouri regions. After that evaluation, a long-term project was launched to provide conservation treatment of these early records and to capture digital images of them for wider distribution.
After that evaluation of the DNR collection, the conservators treated several early maps from that office, including the 1790s Registre d’Arpentage reflecting land surveys in the Cape Girardeau District, the Bent surveys (1807-1811) of the lower Missouri River valley and an 1860 St. Louis County plat book.
Conservators also treated these items from local and state government offices:
- Pulaski County bridge across the Gasconade River, documents and drawings
- Cape Girardeau County Archives: 1936 map of Cape Girardeau County, 1940 map of the city of Jackson
- City of Independence Clerk: 1894 map of the Independence City Cemetery
- Department of Natural Resources/State Museum: montage of before-and-after photographs of spaces in the Capitol that burned in 1911
- Glore Psychiatric Museum: architectural painting of the St. Joseph City Hall
- Lafayette County Clerk: historic photograph
- Missouri Mansion Preservation: Bingham’s Order No. 11, original proof print, signed
- Missouri State Library: Statistics and Information Concerning the State of Missouri (Missouri Pacific Railway Co., 1889), map
- Missouri State University: Danzero panoramic photographs
- New Haven City Clerk: 1896 New Haven plat
- Platte County: 1846 assessment book
- Saint Charles County Historical Society: 1888 time capsule contents
- Saint Charles County Parks Dept.: German immigration documents from 1833
- State of Missouri Legislative Library: Missouri & Missourians by Shoemaker (5 volumes)
- University of Missouri, Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems: collection of historic soil maps (1902-1951)
- Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield: Co. K MO Volunteer Calvary poster
The conservators also completed treatment on the following items from the Missouri State Archives. Many of these were treated in preparation for the Civil War exhibit that opened in April 2010,
- 1836 Register of Inmates Received
- Missouri Ruralist Wall Atlas (1923)
- Missouri Supreme Court cases:
- Bell v. Mulholland
- State of Missouri v. Forester
- Stubbs v. Mulholland
- State of Missouri v. Linney
- Conrad v. Uhrig Brewing
- Muster Rolls, Light Battery B, N.G.M. (1907-15)
- Muster Rolls, Misc., N.G.M. (1917)
- National Co. v. S.E. Grote Paint Store Co.
- Records of Gov. Sterling Price
- Antebellum Supreme Court cases for a cooperative project between the Archives and digital vendor Adam Matthew
- Township School Lands
- Watson’s New Sectional Map of Missouri (1872)
On rare occasions, the conservation staff must perform their work off-site. The conservators spent two days in 2010 at the St. Joseph Museum rehousing the valuable glass plate negatives from the Eckle’s architectural collection and creating protective enclosures for them.
In April 2010, a major Archives project was launched to digitize hundreds of Supreme Court cases from 1821 to 1865 for mounting on the agency’s website. Many of these documents require conservation treatment before they can be safely imaged. This quickly became a priority for the lab and will extend into upcoming fiscal years.
Microfilming & Imaging
Preservation microfilm produced
through the Local Records
Program is kept in this climate-controlled vault.
The Guidelines for Microfilming Public Records specify the minimum standards that all grant funded projects must meet, and serves as a de facto guide for localities and state agencies. The Guidelines reflect standards as well as the advent of technologies that facilitate the migration from film to digital media. The Guidelines are available on the Archives webpage at http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/pubs/mfmg/.
With the increasing demand for digital media from clients and the public, Local Records continues to stress the unsurpassed value of microfilm as the long-term preservation method of choice. However, technological advances have made the creation of microfilm from digital images possible. With that in mind the “Statement on Acceptance of Microfilm Created from Digital Sources,” available at http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/localrecs/microfilm_acceptance.asp, specifies the criteria that microfilm created by digital sources (such as an ArchiveWriter) must meet in order to qualify for storage in the Archives' secure film vault. Often, the staff provides guidance on the use of "hybrid systems" that yield the advantages of digital technology while retaining the security of microfilm.
Local Records Inventory Database
The Local Records online database continues to support research in Missouri history. Records from courthouse and municipal offices, dating from the 19th century and including the judicial system, document the interactions of government and citizens. While originally created for a specific administrative or legal use, the documents now contribute to our understanding of persons, events, themes and institutions.
Since its inception, the Local Records Program has completed over 460 computerized inventories for offices in 106 of 114 counties and the City of St. Louis, giving local officials intellectual control of their records and the ability to plan for preservation and security of public information, while protecting the public interests of access and use. This enormous database is available to local governments and the public. This database is updated periodically as additional inventories are completed. During FY2010, the Local Records Inventory Database registered 109,781 web page searches. This database can be found online at http://www.sos.mo.gov/CountyInventory/index.asp.
Records Center Planning
Each year, more localities begin exploring the creation or modification of space for records storage and preservation of their permanent records. Often, local officials launch such explorations because of the shortage of space in the courthouse or city hall. To provide basic guidance and a starting point for planning and discussions, the conservation staff developed an online resource, Preservation Concerns in Planning a Records Center.
In recent years Local Records staff has had consultation with Boone, Buchanan, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Cass, Clay, Cole, Dekalb, Dunklin, Gasconade, Greene, Howell, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Morgan, New Bloomfield, Phelps, Stoddard, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francis, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, and Webster counties, as well as Kansas City and St. Louis City officials about record center planning and operations.
Missouri state law (RSMo chapter 109) governs the retention and destruction schedules of public documents. Local Records staff analyzes records series produced by local governments based on their current and long-term administrative, fiscal, legal, and historical values and submits detailed appraisals in the form of draft records retention schedules to the Local Records Board for review and promulgation.
In FY2010, the revised Police Schedule was adopted and released. There were also additions and revisions to the Sheriff, Public School, County Clerk (election), Public Safety Answering Point (911), County Collector and General Schedules. In addition, new and revised schedules were posted to the website as PDF files, allowing users to download schedules directly to their workstations. By utilizing the property fields of the PDF, schedules are now easily accessible through any search engine.
The schedules for county and municipal governments and minor political subdivisions are available online at http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/localrecs/schedules/.The online retention schedules remain a great success, with annual searches increasing from 100,379 in FY2009 to 105,841 searches in FY2010.
The overall goal of Local Records is to improve the management and preservation of local government records. In response to the ever increasing volume of inquiries from local officials, in FY2010, Local Records formalized a best practices manual for local government on basic records management principals. The Missouri Local Government Records Management Guidelines were designed to be easily understood by anyone from officials through clerks, the manual briefly covers legal requirements, records management theory, good/bad practices, using the retention schedules, the importance of a record management policy, disaster planning, electronic records and records preservation. The file is available http://www.sos.mo.gov/records/recmgmt/MoLocGovRecMgmtGuides.pdf
To ensure that local governments continue to receive up-to-date information regarding the management and care of their records, archivists and conservators of the Local Records program provide programs on a variety of records topics at annual statewide training conferences of executive and judicial governments, at regional city and county clerks’ organizations, and through other special programs.
Training and Consultation
In conjunction with the Missouri Historical Records Grant Program, conservators presented “Introduction to Preservation” workshops throughout the state. Day-long workshops were held in St. Joseph, Nevada, Columbia, St. Charles and Jackson, with participants coming from government entities and private groups such as museums, historical societies and libraries.
The conservators presented a hands-on training workshop for the Missouri Conference on History (co-sponsored by the Missouri Museums Association) in April 2010. This workshop taught participants how to clean, humidify, flatten, mend and encapsulate items in their care.
Conservators and archivists together presented a program on disaster preparedness for the Missouri Association for Court Administration.
Conservators provided hands-on training in humidification and flattening of historic documents for the Clay County Recorder’s staff and Miller County Historical Society volunteers.
Conservators’ major consultations in 2010 were provided for the Miller County Historical Society and National Churchill Museum.
The office maintains Preservation Environment Monitors, which are loaned at no cost to assess the impact of their temperature and humidity on the longevity of their collections. Conservators perform the software analysis and provide the information to local officials. During 2010, environmental monitors were in place in:
- Bonniebrook Historical Society
- Jackson County Records Center
- St. Charles County Historical Society
- St. Charles Heritage Museum
- St. Francois County Recorder
- St. Joseph Museum
- Tower Grove Park
The conservation staff provides technical preservation information to the State Archives, state and local government offices, archives and historical societies that house public records, and Missouri citizens. Providing information about disaster planning and recovery is common. Conservators provided guidance on the following topics to the following organizations:
- Bates County Museum: conservation queries
- Bollinger County: digitization/preservation of 1906 map
- Bushwhacker Museum (Vernon County): preservation of early 20th century posters
- Cape Girardeau County Archives: fading of blueprints
- Clay County: humidification and flattening
- Cole County Commission: guidance on establishment of a county record center
- City of Florissant: vendor evaluation
- Daughters of Charity (St. Louis): conservator referral
- Gasconade County: storage of parchment item and advice on display, problem with tape on photos
- City of Independence: grant funding sources
- Jackson County: mold outbreak and environmental conditions
- Jackson County Circuit Court: humidification/flattening of court files
- Jewish Federation of St. Louis: onsite preservation guidance, storage of WWII-era film, and referral to other specialized conservators
- Lincoln University: grant funding
- Lutheran Historical Museum (Altenburg): grant funding
- Kansas City Public Library: general preservation questions
- Missouri Public Service Commission: preservation of historic photographs
- National Churchill Museum (Fulton): preservation guidelines,
- National Osteopathic Museum (Kirksville): grant funding, security, storage and transport
- New Madrid County Historical Museum: disaster recovery
- Osage County Historical Society: guidance on “quarantine space” to be designed in new archives building
- City of Owensville: recovery of fire-damaged time capsule
- Phelps County Historical Society: grant funding for preservation project
- Phylaxis Society (St. Louis): proper storage and housing guidelines
- Powers Museum (Carthage): preservation and conservation of panoramic photographs
- Ray County: protecting collections in wooden storage cases
- Ripley County: time capsule
- Soldiers Memorial Museum (St. Louis): mold
- Springfield-Greene County Museum: referral to textile conservator
- St. Charles County Parks Dept.: treatment of 1830s Feilmuth family immigration documents
- St. Francois County Recorder: environmental conditions in storage vault
- St. Joseph Museum: housing and storage of glass plate negatives, particularly those of the Eckle Collection
- St. Louis Community College/Meramec: archival storage standards
- St. Louis County Parks Department, Jefferson Barracks: condition assessment with on-site visit
- Unity Village: collection moving
- private citizens: cleaning a 1719 map (Dent County), appropriate storage of 40 years of Arts Council minutes (Jefferson City), guidance about evaluation and grant funding for records in a historic house (Lebanon)
Throughout the year the LR staff shared information through the MHRAB’s Docline listserv. Staff regularly shared information about grant programs, training opportunities and preservation tips at http://listserv.sos.mo.gov/listserv/archives/wa.exe?A0=docline&F=l&T=0.
After the earthquake in Haiti, the conservators responded to several inquiries from Missouri organizations and citizens requesting guidance about response and recovery procedures.
Two conservation projects of particular note were documented and posted on the agency website. They detail the treatment of the 1860 map of the City of Palmyra and treatment of 19th century files from the St. Charles County Circuit Court.
The Local Records Program maintains a list of vendors offering preservation-related services and supplies. The conservators continued to recommend additions and updates to the vendor pages.
The conservators routinely offer educational tours of the conservation lab. During the year, the conservators provided such tours to the Franklin County LR volunteers, Kansas City Area Archivists, Missouri Department of Natural Resources Land Survey Advisory Committee and the Missouri Mansion Preservation Board.
Johnson County volunteers celebrate their
partnership with local government officials and
the Local Records Program.
Volunteers and Interns
Local Records field archivists, in cooperation with local public officials, utilized dozens of volunteers in preserving historic executive and judicial records. Several projects were advanced thanks to the work of citizens in Boone, Butler, Cedar, Cooper, Franklin, Gasconade, Howell, Jasper, Johnson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Osage, Polk, Ray and St. Charles counties. Some 63 volunteers from historical and genealogical societies contributed over 6,754 hours in FY2010. Since FY2004, civic-minded volunteers have given in excess of 37,724 hours to Local Records projects.
In the past, the Local Records Program offered students in publicly funded colleges and universities the opportunity to explore career possibilities in the archives and records management fields. Due to budget considerations, in FY2010, this program remained suspended.
The conservators provided training and ongoing support to the interns working in the State Archives, funded by the Supreme Court of Missouri Historical Society. Conservators trained the interns in the proper methods for cleaning, humidification and flattening, separation of wafers, and foldering these historic records.
Local Records Board
The Local Records Board serves as the coordinating board to establish retention schedules for all local governments. The Board derives its authority from RSMo 109.230 and 109.255.
Jo Ann Cordsiemon
Adair County R-1 Schools
City of Columbia Records Manager
Howell County Historical Society