Local Records Program
Missouri local governments generate records documenting the rights of citizens, government actions and community history. The mission of the Local Records Program is to assist local governments with the preservation of historical and vital records and recommend techniques for the efficient management of current records.
Local Records staff members work with local governments to:
- create computerized record inventories;
- microfilm records to reclaim office space and ensure long-term preservation of those with permanent/historical value;
- conduct workshops and provide consultation on all aspects of records and archival management practices;
- co-sponsor grant projects;
- perform conservation treatments at the State Archives; and
- dispose of extraneous records based on retention schedules.
These activities promote long-term public records management, improve public access to the records, preserve the social compact and ensure transparency of government.
The Local Records Program operates in three functional areas: the 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; and the conservation staff provides professional preservation advice and conservation treatment. Selected professionals in these areas also serve on Missouri Digital Heritage advisory committees for planning access to collections statewide. Detailed information on the Local Records Program and its activities is available at http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/localrecs/.
Local Field Archivists
The core activity 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.
The services provided by the Local Records staff are free-of-charge to any tax-supported government entity in Missouri. Typically, archivists are requested when a local official decides to improve the organization of records, usually motivated by a desire to reclaim or maximize limited office space. Local Records archivists provide comprehensive consultations that help local government offices gain intellectual and physical control of their records. Often this involves sorting the records, disposing of those that are no longer needed and recommending strategies for microfilming and storage.
In FY11, archivists consulted with the following units of local government:
- cities of Aurora, Branson, Caruthersville, Columbia, Elsberry, Joplin, Kansas City, Lake St. Louis, Lee’s Summit, Maryland Heights, Memphis, Moberly, Moscow Mills, North Kansas City, Osborn, Perry, Platte City, Savannah, Sedalia, St. Charles, St. Louis, Sugar Creek, Town and Country and University City;
- circuit courts in Barry, Boone, Butler, Cedar, Clark, Cooper, Howard, Howell, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Morgan, Osage, Pemiscot, Perry, Pettis, Platte, Polk, Ray, Scott, St. Charles, St. Louis, Shelby and Vernon counties;
- probate courts in Butler, Callaway, Cedar, Franklin, Howell, Lincoln, Miller, Monroe, New Madrid and Warren counties, as well as St. Louis City;
- executive government officials in Andrew, Boone, Buchanan, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Cedar, Christian, Clay, Cole, Crawford, Dallas, Harrison, Howard, Howell, Johnson, Lafayette, Lincoln, Livingston, Macon, Moniteau, Morgan, Newton, Ozark, Platte, Polk, Ray, Reynolds, Saline, Schuyler, St. Charles, Stone, Taney, Texas, Washington, Webster, Worth and Wright counties; and
- county archives, historical societies and other facilities holding public records, including the Barry County Museum, Butler County Genealogical Society, Cape Girardeau County Archives, Cedar County Historical Society, Churchill Museum, Department of Natural Resources Land Survey, Gasconade County Historical Society, Greene County Archives, Johnson County Historical Society, Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society, Lindenwood University, Miller County Historical Society, Missouri Mansion Association, Morgan County Historical Society, Phelps County Historical Society, O’Fallon Historical Society, Ozark County Genealogical and Historical Society, Polk County Historical Society, 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 local 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, allowing officials to reclaim valuable office and storage space. In FY11, staff conducted inventory and/or disposition projects in the cities of Elsberry and Osborn, as well as Butler, Christian, Lincoln, Livingston, Macon, Platte, Saline, Washington and Wright counties.
Preservation and Access Projects
In FY11, Local Records archivists continued their efforts to identify, preserve and make accessible important aspects of Missouri’s history found in judicial records. Working with probate and circuit court judges and clerks, as well as a cadre of dedicated volunteers, the Local Records Program appraised and processed records dating from 1805 to 2001.
Counties with projects underway in FY11 included Bates, Boone, Butler, Callaway, Cape Girardeau, Cedar, Cooper, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Howard, Howell, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Miller, Monroe, Morgan, New Madrid, Osage, Platte, Polk, Ray, St. Charles, Shelby, Vernon and Warren, as well as 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 our understanding of early Missouri history.
Another Local Records Project begun in FY11 involves a partnership with Truman University. Managers and staff within the Local Records Program negotiated with the University to establish an archival processing lab to begin operation in FY12. The University will provide workspace and student interns who will process records from northeast Missouri, gaining valuable training in practical public history and archival practices. The Local Records Program will negotiate with local officials for project content and provide professional expertise, training and supplies. This pilot program is hoped to be the first in a series of partnerships with Missouri universities to assist in the preservation of historic records from their regional counties and communities.
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 grant policies 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 the economic downturn the program was suspended for FY11.
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. The Local Records Program manages the state's only publicly-funded conservation lab for the treatment of paper records. Local Records conservators rescue significant historical documents that are damaged due to aging or poor storage conditions. The professional conservators provide chemical and physical treatments to repair and preserve documents from the State Archives, as well as local and state government offices. They also provide document conservation information and public educational programs.
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, in certain instances, construction of customized housing. In all cases, items leave the conservation lab more physically and chemically stable than when they were received.
Before and After: One of the more challenging treatments was this 18” x 34” map from the St. Charles County Circuit Court, dated May 14, 1870. It depicts the area of the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
In September 2009, a team of Local Records administrators, historians, archivists and conservators visited the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Land Survey Office to evaluate their antebellum plats and maps of Missouri. Following the evaluation of the DNR collection, a long-term project was launched to provide conservation treatment and capture digital images for wider distribution. In FY11, conservators provided full treatment of several early maps from that office, including the 1804 New Madrid territorial district surveys, an 1808 Map of Peyroux’s New Madrid, an 1825 plat of the Village of Ste. Genevieve, an 1838 plat and description of Wolf Island, an 1837 Delauriere 10,000 arpent survey, an 1842 plat of the town of New Bourbon, a plat of St. Ferdinand dated 1845 and early but undated plats of New Madrid, St. Ferdinand and Ste. Genevieve.
Conservators also continued treatment on early 20th century soil maps from the University of Missouri’s Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems. During FY11, seven more soil maps were conserved and digitized.
Conservators also treated the following items from local and state government offices:
- Cape Girardeau County Archives: set of 28 original 1906 blueprints of the county courthouse; 1936 and 1966 plats of Cape Girardeau County, 1938 plat of the city of Cape Girardeau, 1940 plat of Jackson and a mid-1940s map of Missouri.
- City of O’Fallon Historical Society: Mount Zion Cemetery map.
- Crawford County Historical Society: Champlin 1936 Motor Trails Map of Missouri.
- Independence City Clerk: 1894 map of the city cemetery.
- Lafayette County Clerk: 1890 Supreme Court of Missouri case file, City of Westport v. Kansas City.
- Missouri State Library: 1889 map from Statistics and Information Concerning the State of Missouri.
- Missouri University of Science and Technology, Archives: two plats (1858 and 1860) of Rolla.
- St. Charles County Circuit Court: a 19th century case file, Clay & McGregor v. Clay, Clay and Clay; and an 1870 map of the area around the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
- St. Charles County Historical Society: Articles of Incorporation, Henry Clay Club.
- St. Louis Circuit Court: Cowan v. St. Louis Ore & Steel Co.
In April 2010, the Archives launched a major project to digitize thousands of Supreme Court of Missouri cases, dating from 1821 to 1865, for inclusion on the agency’s website. Many of these documents require conservation treatment before they can be safely handled and imaged. During FY11, the conservators treated some 4,600 documents as part of that project. They also provided basic repair, stabilization and/or housing for a number of items from the Archives, including bound volumes related to land patents, early births and deaths, court cases, territorial correspondence and photographs.
Conservators provided guidance on the following topics to the below organizations:
- Benton County Historical Society: salvage after building collapse
- Boone County Recorder: temperature/humidity recommendations
- Central United Church of Christ (Jefferson City): humidification of a panoramic photograph and conservation options for a damaged document
- Dunklin County Recorder: sources of mending materials
- Holocaust Museum & Learning Center (Creve Coeur): photograph marking
- Mercer County Clerk: preservation of a World War II plaque, referral to objects conservator
- Mississippi County Public Library: referral to book conservator
- Museum of Osteopathic Medicine: care of leather boots, referral to objects conservator
- Oak Grove Municipal Court: source of disaster preparedness supplies
- Palmyra City Clerk: appropriate framing for 1860 map treated in the lab last year
- Phelps County Historical Society: information on grant funding
- Rolla Public Schools: use of fireproof cabinets
- Schell City Schools: preserving early 20th century student photographs
- Scott Joplin State Historical Site: sources of training in preservation and archival practices
- Society of the Sacred Heart Archives: mold remediation
- St. Charles County Circuit Court: identification of acetate microfilm
- St. Charles County Heritage Museum: environmental control and referral consultants
- St. Joseph Museum: methods to improve temperature/humidity control; referral to photograph conservators
- Truman State University: advised on contracting for services to deal with significant mold outbreak in the library
- Vernon County Historical Society: humidification and flattening
- Warren County Historical Society: onsite consultation on preservation concerns, funding possibilities and management topics
- Western Historical Manuscript Collection (Rolla): handling and storage of cellulose acetate negatives
- Worth County: salvaging contents of courthouse time capsule
- private citizens: salvage of water-damaged materials, mold remediation, finding and working with professional conservators, constructing and placing a time capsule, guidelines for conservation framing and basic guidance on the preservation of paper, books and many other media
Two conservation projects of particular note were placed on the agency website during FY11. They detail the treatment of the 1860 Palmyra map (http://www.sos.mo.gov/records/recmgmt/PalmyraMapConservTreat.pdf) and the treatment of 19th century St. Charles County Circuit Court case files (http://www.sos.mo.gov/records/recmgmt/StCharlesTreat.pdf).
Microfilming & Imaging
Microfilm is a reliable, long-lived replacement for deteriorating paper records. When produced and stored according to national standards, microfilm can survive for 500 years. In addition, microfilm requires only a fraction of the storage space required for paper records. Increasingly, local governments and other organizations consult with the Local Records Program about the relationship between microfilming and digitization. The staff stresses the importance of microfilm as a long-term preservation medium, while acknowledging the benefits of digital formats for ready access.
The Guidelines for Microfilming Public Records specify the minimum standards that all grant funded microfilming projects must meet, serving as a de facto guide for localities and state agencies. The Guidelines reflect national standards as well as the advent of technologies that facilitate the migration from film to digital media and are available on the Archives website 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 it possible to create microfilm from digital images. With that in mind the “Statement on Acceptance of Microfilm Created from Digital Sources” specifies the criteria that microfilm created by digital sources must meet to qualify for storage in the Archives' secure film vault. It is available online at http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/localrecs/microfilm_acceptance.asp. 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 online Local Records Inventory Database continues to support research in Missouri history. Records from courthouse and municipal offices, dating from the 19th century, document the interactions of government and citizens. While originally created for administrative and legal use, index now contributes to our understanding of persons, events, themes and institutions.
Since its inception, the Local Records Program has completed over 460 inventories for offices in 106 of the 114 Missouri counties as well as the City of St. Louis. These inventories provide local officials with intellectual control of their records, allowing them to plan for preservation and security of public information, while at the same time protecting the public interests of access and use. A publicly accessible database of these inventories is available online at http://www.sos.mo.gov/CountyInventory/index.asp. During FY11, the Local Records Inventory Database registered 147,313 web page searches.
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 a 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 the online resource, Preservation Concerns in Planning a Records Center, which can be found online at http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/localrecs/conservation/concerns.asp.
In recent years Local Records staff have consulted 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. In addition, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission requested an electronic copy of the guide for its use during FY11.
Missouri state law (RSMo chapter 109) governs the retention and destruction schedules of public documents. Local Records staff members analyze record series produced by local governments based on their current and long-term administrative, fiscal, legal and historical values, and then submit detailed appraisals in the form of draft records retention schedules to the Local Records Board for review and promulgation.
In FY11, the completely revised and reformatted Municipal Clerk Schedule was adopted and released. There were also additions and revisions to the Sheriff, Public School, Zoo and General Schedules. In addition, new and revised schedules were posted to the local records website as PDF files, allowing users to download them directly to their workstations. The schedules for county and municipal governments as well as 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 105,841, in FY10, to 109,422, in FY11. The schedules made available as PDFs were downloaded 51,212 times in FY11.
The overall goal of Local Records is to improve the management and preservation of local government records. In FY10, Local Records formalized a best practices manual containing information on basic records management principals in response to the ever increasing volume of inquiries from local officials. The Missouri Local Government Records Management Guidelines were designed to be easily understood by anyone from elected officials to clerks. This manual briefly covers legal requirements, records management theory, good and bad practices, retention schedule usage, the importance of a record management policy, disaster planning, electronic records and records preservation. In FY11, the Guidelines regarding the creation and establishment of official records management policies by local entities was revised and expanded. This document is available at 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, Local Records archivists and conservators provided programs on a variety of topics at annual statewide training conferences of executive and judicial governments, at regional city and county clerks’ organizations and through other special presentations.
In FY11, Local Records archivists spoke at meetings of the Missouri City Clerks and Finance Officers Association, St. Louis Area Archivists, St. Louis “Discovering Your Roots” Conference, Truman State University History Society, Butler County Genealogical Society, Richmond DAR, Missouri Prosecutor’s Support Staff Conference, Columbia Records Management Committee, Warren County Historical Society, Missouri Conference on History, Missouri Police Chiefs Association, Springfield Area Archivists, Kansas City Area Archivists, University of Central Missouri and Lindenwood University.
The conservation staff frequently provides technical preservation information to the State Archives, other state agencies, local governments, local archives and historical societies housing public records and Missouri citizens. In conjunction with the Missouri Historical Records Grant Program, conservators presented “Introduction to Preservation” workshops in Jefferson City, Liberty, Poplar Bluff, Springfield and St. Charles, with participants coming from government entities and private groups such as museums, historical societies and libraries. The staff also presented a program on basic preservation for the Jefferson County Genealogical Society, as well as a program on disaster preparedness for the Missouri Association for Court Administration.
In May 2011, Missouri suffered horrific natural disasters. The day after the catastrophic Joplin tornado, conservators began posting salvage tips on the Archives’ Facebook page and engaged with citizens on other recovery-oriented Facebook pages. At the request of the Secretary of State, and in cooperation with the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, archivists and conservators went to Joplin in early June to provide guidance to citizens and businesses needing to salvage documents and photographs. Conservators also offered guidance to local government offices, such as the City of Morehouse, that suffered damage to records as a result of Mississippi River flooding. Finally, conservators provided hands-on training at the Greene County Archives on mold remediation, humidification and flattening and the removal of starch wafers used to attach historic documents.
The conservators also routinely offer educational tours of the conservation lab. During FY11, they provided tours to groups from the Kansas City Area Archivists, the National Churchill Museum, the St. Charles County Parks Department and the Jefferson City Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, as well as several student and intern groups.
Volunteers and Interns
In cooperation with local public officials, Local Records field archivists attracted dozens of volunteers to aid in the preservation of 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 53 volunteers from historical and genealogical societies across the state contributed over 6,266 hours in FY11. Since FY04, civic-minded volunteers have given in excess of 43,990 hours to Local Records projects.
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
City of Riverside
City of Columbia Records Manager
Howell County Historical Society