By P.J. Gossett
HAMILTON — The advancement of technology has allowed the world to preserve and share things we would not be able to otherwise. Thirty years ago, if someone was asked to read a book online, they would not understand the meaning of these words. Not only can we read a book online now, the inventory of entire courthouses can be found online. Hundreds of books from the Marion County Judge of Probate office went live online Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.
Between April 5-14, 2022, U.S. Imaging, based out of Saginaw, Mich., scanned 1,303 books, the majority being deed and mortgage books, in the probate office. The results have now been delivered to Marion County Probate Judge Paige Vick in a finalized form on an external hard drive.
“I am very excited about the scanning project being completed,” Vick stated. “Besides providing online access, these records are now preserved. The fear of these records being ruined by a natural disaster or fire has been alleviated. Not only do we have the scanned images stored in a locked vault, they are stored and backed up on a server, which is also backed up in multiple places. I feel more at ease about these historical documents being safeguarded.
“But, the preservation does not just stop there,” she continued. “Paper and ink deteriorate overtime. Constant handling of the books speeds that deterioration rate. The readability is slowly disappearing in the older documents already. With the enhancements found in the scanned documents, we have been able to preserve, and in many instances, clarify the older writings. This is a great progressive step for Marion County.”
All deed books of the courthouse have been scanned, from 1887, until 2007, when the probate office began electronically recording the deeds. The mortgages have been scanned for the past 50 years. All the direct and reverse index books have been scanned, as well as many plat maps.
The total space used on the hard drive is 133GB and contains 232,676 images. More specifically, the deed files totaled 154,788 and 28.6GB; mortgages, 71,943, 25.8GB; plat books, 327, 74.5GB and the index books were 5,618 images and 4.14GB.
The money to have this project completed came from American Rescue Plan funds to keep a lower flow of traffic through the courthouse.
This process also makes title searches for legal use simpler, due to the fact they can be searched online rather than physically being at the courthouse and lifting the books.
“The amount of title work I’ve done over the years is unbelievable,” Guin Attorney Jerry Hester said. “Think about how much physical labor I’ve done climbing up, pulling those deeds down, lifting those indexes and all that.
See complete story in the Journal Record.