Monday, January 28, 2013

While We Talk of Naturalizing Additional Citizens . . . .

Last week the Lake County News-Sun ran a prominent article about the efforts of our new Lake County Clerk of Circuit Court to preserve valuable Lake County History in the form of naturalization papers of those Lake County residents who applied for United States Citizenship from the 1870's until the Federal Government took over this function. Files filled with photographs, information about their former homelands and when they became United States citizens were remarkably preserved in the Lake County Circuit Court Clerk's office for decades.

Now they have been moved to a home where they can be more safely be preserved and soon we will all be able to access this history through the magic of computer technology.

With all the gloomy news we receive from government these days, both from Washington and Springfield, it is nice to read about this project.

The Clerk's press release on this subject is also reprinted below.

19th Century Lake County Naturalization Records Will Be Preserved At Illinois Regional Archives Depository Center

Lake County Illinois – January 25, 2013 – Keith S. Brin, the newly elected Clerk of the Circuit Court, knew that the 100-plus binders in his office filled with naturalization documents dating back to the 1850’s needed to be deposited somewhere where they would be carefully preserved.

“In the late 19th and early 20th Century, responsibility for naturalizing citizens was handled by state and local courts,“ explained Brin, “and the Lake County Circuit Clerk’s office holds those documents.”

“What we are talking about,” continued Brin, “are naturalization records in our possession that are well over 150 years old; a number of which are so fragile - but perfectly intact - that we were afraid to touch them for fear of damaging them.”

On Thursday, January 24, 150 year old Lake County naturalization documents began the first leg of a two part journey. A team from the Illinois State Archives in Springfield arrived at the Circuit Clerk’s office where they began cataloging the documents before transporting them to Springfield where they will be scanned and microfilmed, a process which will, upon completion, provide the Circuit Clerk’s office an electronic copy of all of the records. In the final leg of the journey, Illinois Regional Archives Depository Program (IRAD) will take final custody of the historical documents, depositing them in the IRAD Center at Northern Illinois University in De Kalb, where they will be carefully preserved.

“I am elated,” said Brin. “We’ve not only turned over historical treasures to an institution so that the incredible road to citizenship our Lake County ancestors made will live in perpetuity, but with the extraordinary help of the Illinois State Archives we’re saving the citizens of Lake County more than $30,000 for the expense of scanning and electronically archiving the records.”

Brin continued, “As Circuit Clerk, to be a part of this historical process has been pretty amazing.”   

Keith S. Brin was sworn in as Clerk of the Circuit Court on December 1st, 2013.   E-filing and remote access to court records and documents are top priorities for Brin who most recently led the development of a state-of-the-art Electronic Filing System without the use of taxpayer funds.   As Clerk of the Circuit Court, Brin is an outspoken advocate and steadfast proponent of utilizing technology to create a seamless and efficient connection between the courts and those utilizing the courts.

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