Crews Preserving the County's History One Page at a Time

From a quill pen and ink to a keyboard and mouse, a massive project is underway to preserve the history of Vanderburgh County forever.

From a quill pen and ink to a keyboard and mouse, a massive project is underway to preserve the history of Vanderburgh County forever.

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On the second floor of the Civic Center, tucked away in a back room, in these cramped quarters the past meets the present.

The light shines through the window and the sound echoes through an open door; this is a well-tuned orchestra.

County Recorder Z Tuley sits first chair.

"This one here is from 1818," Tuley said as she pulled down an old book of records. "It's so badly damaged that it doesn't exactly fit in the pocket anymore."

From deeds to tax liens to mortgage records, the county's history lives on paper. You can find all of it in these brittle books.

"These records are not duplicated anywhere," Tuley said. "If the Civic Center caught on fire, if it flooded, if these records are gone, they're gone."

Not anymore.

"We're basically preserving the history of the county one page at a time," said Barbara Kenny, the project manager for U.S. Imaging. "It's about 1800 books total."

In two teams of five, this crew from US Imaging is going back in time by working around the clock.

"We're here working 24/7 until the 25th of August," Kenny said.

It's part of a $500,000 project to preserve and digitize every single record. Like a kid and her allowance, Tuley set aside money from her budget to pay for the project. 

"This is a huge project," Tuley said. "I was really glad the money was there and available."

"The searchers will no longer have to go into [the books] and that will save the pages and keep the pages in good condition," Kenny said.

Once the hum of the scanner stops, the images will be catalogued. The project aims to make the Recorder's Office more efficient by cutting down on the time spent searching for records. That, Tuley says, could save taxpayer dollars.

At the end of the hallway in this dimly lit room, the past doesn't just meet the present.

It becomes the present.

"This is the history of Vanderburgh County, right here in this room," Tuley said.

Tuley says once the project is complete, a local company will create a search engine the public can use to access even the oldest records. 

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