The West Virginia State Archives of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History recently completed an extensive microfilm project for the Hampshire County Clerk’s Office. The project consisted of processing, indexing, flattening and filming a large collection of very old records which had been withdrawn from public access because of its fragile and brittle condition.
The microfilm collection includes records of wills, estates, settlements, appraisements, guardians and sales for Hampshire County, created in 1754 as the first county in what is now West Virginia. At its inception, the county boundaries encompassed Hardy, Pendleton, Morgan, Mineral and Grant as well as the current confines of Hampshire County. The records span the years 1754 to 1885 and include the names of many of the state’s earliest families and settlers for the area. Researchers looking for colonists in any of those counties may find references to them in the collection.
The 15 cubic feet of records are now available on 12 easy-to-use rolls of 16-millimeter microfilm and can be accessed at the State Archives Library at the Cultural Center, Charleston; the Potomac State College Library, Keyser; and the Hampshire County Public Library, Romney. Each individual document has a recorded roll and frame number and every name is alphabetically indexed to facilitate finding it in the collection.
The State Archives worked on the project for approximately one year and estimates that there are 28,000 frames of documents. Staff members initially worked with Hampshire County Clerk Sharon Link and the Hampshire County Commission to bring the original records to the State Archives for microfilming. At that time, a local volunteer, William Rice, had already begun the task of compiling an alphabetical name index. The documents were returned to the courthouse in archival storage files upon completion of the project.
Production of the microfilm allows researchers to access these records without posing further damage or loss to the originals, many of which are small fragments easily misfiled or which disintegrate when handled. For more information about the Hampshire County Clerk’s Office records or the State Archives, call Fredrick Armstrong, director of archives and history, at (304) 558-0220.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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