MDAH Launches Year-long Territorial Records Project

The Department of Archives and History has begun a year-long, $100,000 project that will help ensure irreplaceable historical documents in the state's oldest counties will be properly preserved for future generations. The MDAH Local Government Records Office will direct the project to identify and inventory records in Mississippi's fourteen territorial counties. The project is funded by a grant to the Mississippi Historical Records Advisory Board from the the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

The Mississippi Territory was organized in 1798. In 1817 the territory was split in two, with the western half forming the State of Mississippi. Most of our pre-statehood counties—Adams, Amite, Claiborne, Franklin, Greene, Hancock, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Marion, Pike, Warren, Wayne, and Wilkinson—maintain records that date back to their formation more than two hundred years ago.

"These records are some of our richest and most diverse historical materials," said Julia Marks Young, Mississippi Historical Records Advisory Board deputy coordinator. "As Mississippi approaches its bicentennial in 2017, the Historical Records Advisory Board believed it was especially important to provide funds from NHPRC to help care for these records and plan for their long-term preservation and access to citizens."

Over the last thirty years, both MDAH and the Genealogical Society of Utah have microfilmed selected older records at many counties throughout Mississippi. As a part of this current project, LGRO staff will identify and inventory those records held by each county, and evaluate the microfilm collection held at the state archives.

"We invite all the local historical societies in these counties to partner with MDAH for this project," said LGRO director Tim Barnard. "We will need the active involvement of interested local people to make this a full success."

The information gathered during the project will be used to plan future preservation and digitization projects that will improve access to the information in the future and allow the original records a greater measure of protection. The project will conclude with a free workshop on records management for officials and staff from the fourteen counties, and on-site consultations in each of those counties.

The mission of the Local Government Records Office includes advising and assisting local governments in managing their records. For more information contact Tim Barnard at 601-576-6894 or by email.

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