Barry County records to be researched and archived

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Starting next spring, students from Missouri State University, in Springfield, will be cleaning, repairing, arranging and indexing Barry County government records from the 19th Century, Jan. 1, 1801 through Dec. 31, 1900.

The work is a cooperative agreement between Secretary of State Jason Kander and Missouri State University President Clif Smart, with the goal of training students in archival procedures while they gain jobs-ready skills in a supervised lab setting.

Students will gain an understanding of archival theory through readings and personalized instruction.

"This partnership illustrates what can be accomplished when public institutions work toward a common goal," Kander said. "By providing educational experience, greater access to local records in southwest Missouri and a means to preserve our historic records, this collaboration will benefit students, local governments and, most importantly, the citizens of our state."

"This is another great example of a partnership that benefits local and regional communities as well as Missouri State," Smart added. "The hands-on learning opportunities for students involved in the project will be an added benefit."

The new program will start with Barry County Circuit Court records provided through Kander's office. Prominent themes on the materials include interactions with Native Americans, property rights, commerce, slavery, debt and other social and cultural issues related to the Civil War.

As students complete their work, records will be transported to the Missouri State Archives for preservation imaging. Copies of microfilm and electronic databases will be available in Barry County, on the campus of Missouri State University, at the Missouri State Archives and online at MissouriDigitalHeritage.com.

"This will save the county thousands of dollars," said Barry County Circuit Clerk Craig Williams. "Students will come and get the documents, take them to the university and put them on microfilm. At that point, we might offer up some of the documents to a local historical society."

Williams said records are already being reviewed by a MSU employee associated with the project.

"She said we have some pretty good stuff here," Williams said. "In one case, a man was found guilty of selling alcohol to [Native Americans].

"The best thing about this is getting a portion of our records archived at no cost to the county," Williams said, "and we will be able to clear some storage space at the Judicial Center."

Upon conclusion of the first project, students will continue to study and process records from other counties throughout southwest Missouri.

The program replicates a successful effort between Kander's office and Truman State University that was launched last year with historic county records in northeast Missouri.

"Our archivists' work at Truman State has been a great success," Kander said. "I know similar efforts in other parts of Missouri will be just as productive."

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