The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 27, 2013

Preserve your history


— Do the Northumberland County commissioners realize the harm they are doing to our history?

We had the occasion to visit your courthouse recently. We have been involved in researching of family histories for more than 45 years between the three of us.

We were totally appalled in your storage of old records — in a cold, damp basement of the courthouse. We were shocked and heartbroken at the condition of these records and the basement. It is extremely disappointing.

The book with the death records for 1901 was in absolutely deplorable condition. It was like nothing we have ever seen anywhere. Between the three of us and having been in five other courthouses within the state, your records are, by far, the worst we have seen and are in dire need of preservation.

One of the clerks did reassure us the 1901 death record book has been preserved by the Mormon Church, but that certainly does not help John Q. Public; those of us willing to take the time and energy to make the trip to your town and courthouse.

If those records have been filmed, why didn’t we have access to that film rather than a book, which is totally falling apart and taking our history with it? We appreciated the fact we could see and handle the original documents, but because of this, from thousands handling them, they continue to deteriorate.

The building itself is a beautiful structure and should be saved and preserved just as much as the records it houses. But the records definitely should be removed before any are lost or destroyed forever. It would be wonderful to see your county create a climate-controlled archive for the preservation of these historical documents, which can never be replaced. Other counties have been able to afford to do this, so why is Northumberland County different?

We would appreciate all your efforts to preserve our history. 

Sharon Cossaboon, Parkersford, Linda E. Miller, West Chester, Dorothy L. Tykwinski, Kennett Square