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Hamilton County secures the future of priceless pages.



Noblesville, Indiana – Hamilton County’s past is leaving behind fragile bits that will undoubtedly find a place in the future.

Leaders are showcasing significant discoveries in their ongoing attempt to digitally preserve decades’ worth of handwritten records, spanning back nearly 200 years, as part of the county’s bicentennial celebration.

Beginning in the middle of the 1800s, the records detail births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and other events in the county.

Some of these genuinely commemorate significant events in county history.

“For example, we know Jacob Winter and Elizabeth Cotlin were the first couple in Hamilton County issued a marriage license,” according to County Clerk Kathy Williams in a comment provided by the county. “They were married by a Justice of the Peace on June 9, 1843.”

According to the county, the documents from 1882 to 1968 were written by hand in bound books. Although they are maintained in fireproof safes, the information inside of them will eventually be preserved through digitalization, which is now under way. Williams, who is also the co-chair of the Hamilton County Bicentennial Commission, explains the importance of digitizing in the following way: “These documents are like time capsules, giving us a window into the lives of those who came before us. They serve as a reminder of the challenges, victories, and tenacity that have shaped our town over the past 200 years.

Likewise, the Hamilton County Health Department seems enthused about the endeavor.

The department’s Vital Records Clerk is Susie Swenson. She claims that the records-filled books provide crucial information regarding the issues that beset the past and the reasons why public health work is crucial.

“We know by looking at them that the primary causes of death in the 1800s were diphtheria, Scarlet fever, and Typhoid fever,” says Swenson. “These diseases are all but non-existent because of the advent of vaccinations, improved living conditions, and antibiotics.”

The Health Department says it has successfully digitized birth and death records as far back as 1920 and is working on the rest.

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