The editors of Out of the Box would like to give a belated good-bye to Carl Childs, the Library of Virginia’s former Local Records Services director. Last month, Carl started his new job as Director of Archives and Records for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. When former local records archivist Dale Dulaney first proposed our little blog five years ago, Carl’s support, encouragement, and leadership helped Dale’s idea become a reality. The result: the Out of the Box blog may be the most successful outreach tool used by the Library of Virginia. For the fiscal year ending 30 June 2013, Out of the Box had 435,859 page views, 221,667 visitors, and 369,123 visits.
Out of the Box is one of many innovative projects that Carl has been a part of at the Library. In a 20-year career at the agency, Carl moved into increasingly responsible positions, from his first job as a front desk attendant, to state records archivist and then local records archivist and, beginning in 2005, Local Records Services director. Carl brought enthusiasm and a willingness to try new things to every position. Accordingly, in his tenure overseeing the Circuit Court Records Preservation (CCRP) grants program, Carl helped strengthen the application and oversight process, resulting in a more efficient and beneficial program to care for historic records in Virginia’s circuit courts. Similarly, as deputy director of the State Historical Advisory Board (SHRAB), Carl increased the number of National Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) grant applications from Virginia institutions reviewed by the board. He also found new ways to utilize the State and National Archival Partnership (SNAP) grants funding received by the SHRAB to provide workshops, training, and travel to cultural repository staff from around the Commonwealth.
Carl worked closely with the Virginia Circuit Court Clerks Association to create an open dialog in an effort to meet the space, preservation, and records disposition needs of each clerk’s office. He also found innovative ways to collaborate with circuit court clerks and staff such as the recently undertaken Montgomery County Circuit Court Records Collection, 1777-1912, project. Leveraging the funding from an $81,340 two-year grant from the NHPRC and the experience of existing agency staff, the project utilizes a new strategy in that all work is being completed by professional archivists in the clerk’s office rather than at the archives in Richmond. Carl’s leadership led to two previous grants: an NHPRC grant ($150,000) to digitize one million Augusta County chancery records and a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant ($155,071) to digitize the Petersburg chancery records.
Also during Carl’s tenure as director for the Local Records Services program, researchers gained online access to nearly nine million digital chancery images for 61 localities covering the years 1731-1933 (bulk 1770-1913). By working with his staff of processing archivists and quality assurance specialists, Carl helped to develop updated and efficient procedures and economical vendor contracts to digitally reformat these valuable historical records and make them available free of charge to users across the globe. Aspects of this endeavor have been utilized by other states in their efforts to save valuable local government historical records.
Carl was a tireless promoter of the CCRP. His outreach included speaking to historical societies and genealogical groups and encouraging his staff to do the same. He also made annual visits to court houses across the commonwealth. Carl may no longer be at the Library of Virginia, but the work he started continues. Good luck in your new endeavor, Carl.
-Roger Christman, Senior State Records Archivist