Jefferson County Historical Society Receives Archival Records Care Grant

The Jefferson County Historical Society is pleased to announce it is a recipient of a 2023 Historical & Archival Records Care Grant from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission.

This is a restricted grant, earmarked for preservation of our archival books and records, specifically the Jefferson County Record Books Collection inherited from the County Courthouse that we are the stewards of, and also original Naturalization Books currently stored by the Prothonotary’s office.

The County Records Collection covers the early 19th century to mid-20th century, dating 1824-1961, and include court records, deeds, constable and sheriff’s accounts, and commissioner’s minutes, totaling 677 volumes. The Naturalization Records Collection covers 1831-1910, a total of 41 volumes.

The grant funds of $10,000 will cover the purchase of appropriate archival boxes, folders and protective sleeves to properly preserve and rehouse the collections in our New Archives Facility. The project will begin in Spring 2023, when these items will be moved from our prior archive buildings, the Brady-Craig House and Margaret Johnson Archives, to the New Archives. This project is necessary to adequately preserve County Record Books that are only wrapped in brown paper and Naturalization Records with deteriorating bindings and detached covers/spines that have been over-handled. The process includes re-inventorying the record books, creating a “finding aid” for research purposes, and evaluating the condition of each book to determine future conservation needs. Our New Archives will also provide greater access to these records for staff and researchers.

The County Records Collection contains a wealth of information for researchers. Some interesting titles include: Automotive Vehicle Registry (who owned the first car and the first 4WD in the county), a Bridge Book, a Record of Prisoners, a Protest Book, and even a Stallion Registry. Naturalization Records of immigrants who established Jefferson County families preserve valuable genealogical research data including country of origin, port of departure and arrival, spouses, children’s names and ages, and occupations. These records are also used by descendants who wish to apply for dual citizenship to their ancestors’ countries of origin. JCHC works together with the Prothonotary’s office on many requests per year for this service.

This will be a 1-2 year project for our current collections team and a training opportunity for our current and future interns who are in the museum or library studies fields, and history majors. The project will be overseen by Kenneth Burkett, Executive Director and Kat Lyons, Operations/Grants.

This is a collaborative project between JCHS and the County Commissioners as Collaborative Partner, and Tonya Geist, Prothonotary, current steward of the Naturalization Records.

“It’s an imperative that we continue to work to preserve our common history, so I was pleased to hear the Jefferson County Historical Society was awarded the 2023 Historical & Archival Records Care Grant from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission,” said Sen. Cris Dush (R-25). “These county historical documents will help us remember what has come before us, now and for generations to come.”