Thursday, December 6, 2012

Personal Papers -- or Public?

Yesterday I was frolicking through the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center's complete collection of the maniacally detailed WPA inventories of county records as of 75 years ago. (Use the main catalog and search on call number 977.2 H62IC; the 92 counties are numbered in alphabetical order from Adams to Whitley.) I noticed that in many counties the chief health officer maintained his office in his private office. And frequently, some marriage records were in his custody as well.

A lot of Indiana Justice of the Peace official record books disappeared because they were considered the justice's personal property rather than a public record. As I understand it, Indiana marriage records were the clerk's job until the 1880s when the state and local boards of health were established and took an interest in having more information recorded more systematically; thus no longer were all records in one place.

Is it possible that some of these marriage records became lost as health officers left office or died? Inquiring microhistorians want to know.

Harold Henderson, "Personal Papers -- or Public?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 6 December 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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