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Indiana library lands grant to digitize 19th century records

July 17, 2021 GMT

VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) — A rare collection of hundreds of public records that span the 19th century is set for preservation thanks to a grant a southwest Indiana library landed to digitize the fragile documents.

The Knox County Public Library recently secured the $26,000 heritage grant from the Indiana Historical Society for the project. The funding will allow staff to digitize marriage, birth and death records that date back to Knox County’s formation in 1790.

The documents are stored at the library’s McGrady-Brockman House in the county seat of Vincennes about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Evansville, the Vincennes Sun-Commercial reported.

The grant will enable the library to hire a full-time staff member who will spend one year digitizing the records through a project called “Love, Marriage and Death in 19th Century Knox County.”

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Library director Emily Bunyan said that digitizing such old documents allows scholars worldwide as well as the public to view the archives while also preserving the original records.

“It means having access to the documents while not endangering the documents,” she said. “The more digitization we can do, the better it is for researchers all over the world.”

Bunyan said people have traveled from all over the country to access items preserved at the McGrady-Brockman House.

The grant requires a 15% match, so the library officials’ next steps will be to approach various city or county entities to secure the necessary $3,900 match. After that, the digitization project will commence.