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Click here to view photos from the Loose Records project.

Since its inception in 1998, the loose records microfilming program has produced nearly 2,000 rolls–or over 3.5 million microfilm images–of historical county records (estate files, marriage licenses, Confederate pension records, and divorces) chronicling the lives of Alabama citizens from the founding of our state through 1950. The program is a cooperative preservation effort sponsored by the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) and the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU). Fifty-seven of Alabama’s 67 counties are currently participating. To date, 23 counties have completed projects, and we hope eventually to film loose records in all counties where they are available.

This program’s success would not be possible without the cooperation of county government officials and the work of over 500 members of local historical and genealogical societies. Braving the dirt, clutter, and humidity of courthouse storage areas (not to mention the occasional rat or insect and at least one snake!), these devoted volunteers retrieve old records from dusty Woodruff file drawers, flatten them in order to be legible for filming, and arrange them in acid-free folders and boxes for long-term preservation. Next, volunteers recruited by the GSU (usually from remote states such as Idaho or Utah) come to Alabama for a year or 18 months to film the records. The microfilm masters are stored in GSU’s underground vault near Salt Lake City, while copies are made available for researchers in the home county and at ADAH.

Among files filmed under the loose records program are documents containing the signatures of three U.S. Presidents (Jackson, Polk, and Lincoln), as well as famous Alabama governors, judges, and members of the legislature. Far more important, however, is the program’s role in documenting the long-ago experiences of ordinary Alabamians–who they were, what they did, and how they lived–so that our own lives may be enriched by our heritage as their descendants.

Click here for a map showing the staus of the County Loose Records Project.

For more information, about the Loose Records Microfilming Program, contact Tom Turley or call 334-242-4452, ext. 234.

State and local officials -- for records management assistance call (334) 242-4452 or email us at records@archives.alabama.gov.

Family and historical researchers -- please click here.

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