Wednesday, March 01, 2000

Warren puts 200 years on CDs, film


County preserving criminal history

BY CINDI ANDREWS
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Yellowed, folded papers tied and stacked in storage have preserved Warren County's criminal history for almost 200 years.

        Now, the county is hoping to ensure the record survives forever by putting the documents on compact disc and microfilm. It is paying a Dayton company $150,000 to transfer court documents dating from 1803 to the 1930s. The project should be finished in 90 days, said Clerk of Courts James Spaeth.

        Saving these papers is a legal requirement, but it's more than that, said Pamela Spetter, records manager and archivist for the county.

        “You want to keep them so we don't forget where we came from,” Ms. Spetter said.

        Mr. Spaeth demonstrated that firsthand Tuesday when he was looking through one of the boxes and came across a family name.

        “I hope this is just a civil suit,” he joked. “This part of the genealogy we didn't get to.”

        Daniel Hathaway of Turtlecreek Township — who may or may not have been part of the Spaeth family tree — had been indicted on charges of beating up one John Stites on Aug. 30, 1817, according to the fancy handwriting. The papers didn't include the outcome of the case.

        The Hathaway case and about 716,000 other documents will be unfolded and transfered to CD, where the images can be sharpened and creases can be removed. From there, the information will go onto the Internet and microfilm.

        The originals of the oldest papers will be kept in the records department of the new county administration building, not yet complete.

        “There's definitely a great interest in preserving local history here,” Ms. Spetter said.

        After this first batch is completed, Mr. Spaeth hopes to transfer the rest of the court documents — covering the 1930s to today — within the next five years. Eventually, he said, all documents will be immediately scanned into court computers and moved to the Internet soon thereafter.

       



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