Friday, May 9, 2014

Courthouses and archives

Mike sent me an email asking:

“Have you ever wrote about techniques for dealing with courthouses or even state governments requesting archived records?  You make is seem easy.  I have difficulty even finding the right person to call and do not have much luck at all with emailing to the courthouse.  Living in a different state than my ancestors it makes for lots of frustrating research dealing with these types of records.”

As far as dealing with courthouses and archives go, it is totally trial and error.   I always call or email and just tell them what I want. They in turn tell me if I can have it.

For example, just this week I needed a will from the Montgomery County, Alabama Probate Court (a fairly old one, 1861). I have never dealt with this county before so I had no idea what the correct procedure would be. They have a website and an email address so I emailed them with the details. They forwarded my email to the Montgomery County Archives (which I didn’t know existed) and their archivist pulled the will and sent me a digital copy. The Archivist told me the cost was $1 per page so I called him and paid my $2 bill.  If they didn’t have an email address, their phone number would have been available to me via a simple Google search.

Now that I know about the Montgomery County Archives, I have entered all of the their contact information into Legacy as a repository.  In the notes section I added that the cost for copies (paper or digital) is $1 per page and that they allow you to pay over the phone with a debit/credit card.  The next time I need anything from Montgomery County I will know just what to do.  I talked about how/why I add repositories in Legacy in the blog post Everything in one place.

 

Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

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