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Jan 26

Our LEAST Favorite Records

Posted on January 26, 2021 at 10:08 AM by Chester County Archives

We get asked all the time about our favorite records to work with. So we wrote about them last year in a blog post which you can access by clicking here. But what about our LEAST favorite records? What are some of the records that are just a pain to handle and work with? Let's take a look at some of those now...

1) Twentieth-Century Tax Assessments (1900-1940):
None of our twentieth-century tax records have been scanned or microfilmed. So if a researcher wants access to tax records from the 1900s, we need to pull the originals from the back. But there's a slight problem...these volumes are MASSIVE! And they're on the very top shelf. Getting these records can be a real workout! So if you request these twentieth-century tax records, don't be surprised if the reference archivist comes back a little red, lightheaded, and winded.

Chester County Tax Assessments

2) Records with Red Rot:

You'll notice archivists rarely wear white, and that's because we've all ruined a nice shirt or two with the infamous red rot stain. Red rot is caused when leather dries out over time and begins to break down. The fibers disintegrate down to a powder-like substance and can leave a real mess behind.

Red Rot 
A nineteenth-century tax ledger and prison docket with red rot. 

3) Court of Common Pleas Appearance Papers:
The Court of Common Pleas appearance papers can have some real useful information in them, but they can be a real pain to handle! Most court files were tri-folded and tightly packed in the classic Woodruff drawer file cabinets. Some of these civil cases also had large files with a lot of papers, and this can make for some really awkward files to handle.
CP Appearance
Early-twentieth century common pleas appearance papers.

 4) Oversized Materials:
Some of our oversized items like maps and blueprints are too large to be scanned, so anytime they are requested we need to pull the originals. If they don't fit flat on a table, then it becomes a two-person operation.

An oversized map of the Borough of Modena.


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