Will County Preserving History's Heritage Will Be Available September, 1, 2009!

The Plainfield Public Library District, in conjunction with the Plainfield Historical Society, Shorewood-Troy Public Library and the Will County Recorder of Deeds are pleased to present Will County: Preserving History’s Heritage. This project is sponsored by the Illinois State Library under the Library Services Technology Act. The Plainfield Public Library received $20,000 to digitize, preserve and index historical books, newsletters and photographs important to Will County Illinois history. The following organizations and collections have been digitized:

Plainfield Public Library District

The Combination Atlas Map of Will County Illinois by Thompson Bros. and Burr of Elgin Illinois 1873
Will County’s (then) 23 townships are reproduced in watercolor maps. Each map contains property owners, cemeteries and churches for each township as well as natural landmarks. This book also includes exquisitely detailed etchings of dozens of significant farms, churches and businesses in Will County. Lists of tax payers along with brief histories of each township are also enclosed.

Plainfield Historical Society

Miles V. Hartong Glass Plate Negative Collection
This collection includes 267 images representing the early histories of Chicago, Naperville and Plainfield. Miles V. Hartong and his son Hobart Hartong created the slides in the 1930s from historic drawings, photographs, illustrations and portraits spanning the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Shorewood-Troy Public Library

Shorewood Sentinel newspapers 1961-1963
The Shorewood Beach Association began a newspaper in March of 1961 as a weekly two-page, paper reporting local news and events. The newspaper is still publishing today as the Shorewood Sentinel.

The Combination Atlas Map of Will County Illinois by Geo. A. Ogle and Co. 1909
Hand-crafted watercolor plat maps are included in this volume for the 24 townships in Will County as well as numerous city and subdivision maps. This book also contains photographs of prominent Will County businesses, buildings and residents.

Will County Recorder of Deeds Office

Three Volume Grantor/Grantee Index to all property transactions in Will County 1836-1889
These hand-written ledgers represent the earliest property transactions within Will County. The indexes provide the volume and page number to each of the following types of records recorded: personal property sales, deeds and mortgages, certificates, incorporations, wills and maps and more.

Once these collections were digitized they were cleaned and properly re-housed in acid-free folders, binders and boxes. The information was then hand-keyed by a team of indexers into a searchable database hosted by the Plainfield Public Library.
The intention of this project is to make historically significant materials, which are now housed in various locations across the county, available to researchers, residents and students from one location. This grant also serves two additional proposes; preserving historically significant materials for future generations and fostering greater knowledge and understanding of Will County history. Providing digital copies of our items reduces the risk of loss due to repeated handling or theft. Digital surrogates of fragile items help preserve them for future generations by taking them out of the public space. It allows our institutions time to clean, repair and preserve the items. We can then store each in proper storage containers; reducing damage cause by usage, light, heat, dust and other environmental hazards. Secondly the database will offer access to smaller, lesser-known webpages related to Will County’s history and heritage.

The database will also act as a portal providing links to various Will County history and genealogy resource in one location. Will County has several prominent historical and genealogical societies with valuable resources widely unknown to researchers. This project will make these webpages available to a wider audience than any of the participants may have reached individually and help collate ideas and information often overlooked in web browser searches. Pages to be represented include the Will-Grundy Genealogical Society, Will County Heritage Alliance and the Will County Historic Preservation Committee.

Will County: Preserving History’s Heritage will be available here beginning September 1, 2009. It will also be available beginning August 15, 2009 through the Illinois Digital Archives webpage www.idaillinois.org.