Clerk of Court committed to preservation of historic public records

Some of Fluvanna’s record books, however, are becoming worn with time and use, and need professional restoration and conservation in order to be saved. Toward that end, Treadway has just submitted a grant request to the Library of Virginia for funds to help preserve these books. “Deed books are covered, and order books by the Library of Virginia’s grants– but things like the land books are not something that they will offer the grants for,” said Treadway, “so those are the areas that we will have to find some other type of funding to restore.”

The county has already “back-scanned” or digitized its land records going back to 1777, so any grants obtained to conserve those particular books would only request funding for the actual conservation work –much of which was already done as well. Other books, though, not covered by Library of Virginia grants, will be both conserved and scanned, if funding can be found to do so. Until that time, some books have been pulled from the shelves and are not available to the public as further handling might damage them beyond repair, and the priceless information they contain could be lost.

“The way they used to restore things, and the way staff used to fix things is actually causing damage to the records,” Treadway explained. “If a page was torn, we would put tape on it which we now know is horrible, so they remove the tape they de-acidify the documents and put each page in a sleeve,” said Treadway, who described the restoration process as extensive.

“These are two that I have pulled that are in dire need of restoration,” Treadway said, gesturing to two tattered volumes on a shelf in a back meeting room, “but these are unfortunately records that are not covered by Library of Virginia grants. These are books that I have actually had to pull off of the floor – they just can’t be handled any longer.”

Details of an early 19th century land record book.One of the books was a land book – a sort of a summary of who owned property in the county during a set time frame. They contain an alphabetical list of who owned property, how much they owned, where it was located, and what its value was. “They are a really handy tool if you are doing genealogical research – you can come and look at land books instead of going through the deed books a page at a time. The oldest I have been able to find so far is from 1782,” said Treadway.

Treadway looked at the two shabby volumes and shrugged. “I’ve gone so far as to have the pictures taken of these and have them assessed,” she said. “It will be roughly $11,000 for these two books to be restored.” And while that is a lot of money, Treadway feels the expense is justified, if a grant can be found. “A hundred years from now, having these records would be phenomenal.”

“Having them restored and having them on hand is great – having them digitized is even more important because then people don’t have to handle the books because they will be available on the computer,” Treadway said. On the other hand, she admitted, “Seeing the real books is impressive, and you can sometimes read the originals better than the scans. But it does help the books last longer when they are not handled as much.”

Treadway is digging in, searching for more grant opportunities and funding to help preserve Fluvanna’s history. “Having taken over as clerk on Jan. 1, I am realizing that the Library of Virginia and the General Assembly are putting an emphasis on the preservation of records. Virginia has so much history, it is great to see them realizing the importance of that and setting aside some money for preservation and restoration of records.”

Another possible avenue of grant funding lies in joining hands with other organizations. “I absolutely am open to the idea of collaborating with a private nonprofit like the Fluvanna Historical Society to apply jointly for grants for digitizing records – our marriage records are not digitized and that would be very helpful people to have done,” said Treadway.

Treadway’s commitment to the preservation of these records is about more than just doing her job. “I feel a commitment to the records – not just as the clerk, but as a member of the community,” she said. “I would like to see these records maintained and continue to be available to us. If we don’t work towards getting grants then we have to pull them off the shelves. These pieces that are falling out of this book could be lost.”

“I grew up here in Fluvanna County,” said Treadway. “I was born and raised here, as my dad was and my grandfather was; so it isn’t just the history of the county – the history of my family is out there in that record room too,” she explained. “I love Fluvanna, and I want these records to be here for a long time to come.”


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