Treasure Found in Court Case Files

January 8th, 2013
Bookmark and Share

If you’ve ever been to the Delaware Public Archives to do genealogical research or to work on that historical novel you’ve been toying with you might have noticed that the materials you’re looking at have been scanned or organized neatly into folders.  This does not happen magically and the documents certainly do not come to us the way they are presented to the public. There are actually many people behind the scenes that work constantly to take collections that are literally “wrapped in government red tape” and make them easy for researchers to access.  One collection that is currently undergoing processing is the Kent County Superior Court Case Files. These documents range from 1831 when the Superior Court was created until the 1950s. The collection is quite large and the condition of the documents varies by year. Most case files are completely covered in what is most likely coal dust. We try our best to clean the documents using cleaning sponges. These are not your typical household sponges, however. They more closely resemble an eraser and they work about the same way. Some documents never get fully cleaned and most of the time my hands look a lot like a mechanic’s after his third oil change of the day. When I got to the year 1905 however, something caught my eye; something colorful. Folded up a few times and torn slightly, was the Marriage Certificate shown below. This was used during divorce proceedings and even has “Exhibit A” written on the back. When you deal with old documents all day as an archivist or researcher, it is nice to stumble across something like this from time to time. We’ll just try to ignore the fact that it was in a divorce file. Okay, so it isn’t diamonds or gold, but you just never know what you’ll find here at the Archives and that curiosity keeps us going.

Bookmark and Share

Tags: , , , ,