Pre-Civil War Chancery Causes Rediscovered in Middlesex County Courthouse.
Local Records archivists recently travelled to the Middlesex County Circuit Court Clerk’s office to transfer their pre-1913 chancery causes to the Library of Virginia as well as identify a large number of volumes stored in a small room separate from the main records room. While one group pulled the boxes of chancery causes, another group conducted an inventory of the volumes. They identified permanent records such as court minute books, bond books, business records, election records, and fiduciary records that dated from the 1790s to mid-1900s.
The archivists also located two boxes of early 1800s chancery causes that had been pulled from their original drawers in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as part of its inventorying of courthouses. This was a significant discovery given that much of Middlesex County’s loose records were destroyed during the Civil War. They were transferred to LVA along with the aforementioned pre-1913 chancery causes to be processed and indexed. Budget permitting, they will be digitally scanned and the images will be added to the Middlesex County chancery presently found in the Chancery Records Index.
The archivists also identified records that are nonpermanent, mainly printed material, of which the circuit court clerk can dispose. Moreover, the archivists identified volumes in need of conservation treatment including the county’s Free Negro Register, a record of great historical importance to African American history and genealogists across the United States. The clerk’s office will be able to use this information to apply for future conservation grants through the Circuit Court Records Preservation Program (CCRP).
The Library of Virginia is able to provide these services to Virginia’s Circuit Court Clerks thanks to the CCRP which provides resources to help preserve and make accessible permanent circuit court records. The program awards grants to the commonwealth’s circuit court clerks to help them address the needs of the records housed in their localities.
The CCRP also provides resources needed to process and house the circuit court records that are transferred to the State Archives for safekeeping and increased access; as well as track, duplicate and maintain circuit court microfilm stored in the Library’s media vault.
-Greg Crawford, Local Records Coordinator