Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower

Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

May 18

Thoughts of a Greene County Intern

Posted on May 18, 2017 at 4:36 PM by Jessica Cromer

Brenda Williams, a volunteer-intern is our guest blogger this week. Brenda has been working here at the Archives since mid-April.

Brenda Williams

I have been volunteering at the Greene County Archives since April to gain experience in an archival environment while pursing my Masters of Library Science at San Jose State University’s iSchool. I have worked in the legal field as a paralegal most of my adult life, and I am transitioning into the information profession mid-career. When I first started the program at SJSU, I thought I would focus on law librarianship. As a personal hobby, I work on my family tree and spend a great deal of time researching and writing about communities in Michigan. Being in the MLIS program at SJSU and learning about records management has fueled my interest in the management and preservation of public records. Greene County Archives just seemed like the perfect fit for me professionally and personally.

At the archives, I have been working on organizing and preparing probate files from the 1950s for microfilming. I have enjoyed my experience so far. It’s interesting and fascinating to work with these files. Through this experience I have been fortunate to discover and learn about past residents of Greene County while I gain experience and knowledge about records preservation. Who could ask for more? I consider it a privilege to work with these files every day. There is always something new to learn, and the people who work at the archives have been nothing but helpful and courteous.

I think it is wonderful Greene County even has an archives in the first place. I have researched in areas that do not have one, and I truly appreciate all the services Greene County affords the members of their community and the public. In addition to preparing files for microfilming, I have been afforded the opportunity to talk to residents who come into the archives researching their own family tree or those who need to get a copy of a certified record. I enjoy hearing the stories about their families, and I have learned so much about Greene County’s history in such a short time. I have been introduced to the many collections held at the archives, and it is impressive. On top of all that the staff is extremely competent and very helpful to everyone who steps through the doors. It is refreshing to be a part of a team environment where I can learn so much. On that note, I want to finish by extending my thanks to the Greene County Archives’ staff for such a warm welcome and the opportunity to expand my knowledge about public records.

Thank you Brenda!

Until next time!

May 15

Putting A Seal On It

Posted on May 15, 2017 at 11:27 AM by Jane Hindenlang

For over one thousand years, wax seals have been used on official documents. These seals usually have a seal-die, called a matrix, which was pressed into the wax leaving behind the official impression on the wax. These matrices ranged in size from small stamps, where you apply force by hand, to large screw, seal presses.

Around 1782, seal presses were designed to emboss a seal directly onto the paper, rather than into wax. Press seals became an instant success and today are sought after by collectors. There are a wide variety of styles and sizes of press seals, many of which are still used today.

In many of our handwritten records here in Greene County, you can find hand drawn seals in a variety of records. Perhaps this was because it was just easier to enter the hand-drawn seal into the record, maybe it was copied over from the original record that had a raised seal, or maybe there just wasn’t a local source to purchase seal presses when the county was first established in 1803.

 Seal  View of stamp plate
 Hand-drawn seal from Emancipation
of Free Blacks Record
 View of seal plate

Last month, we received a new item from the Board of Greene County Commissioners Office, a seal press. This brass, hand-painted, seal press contains the official seal of the Commissioner’s Office. The press is an indented body press with a sunburst painted on the sides. This press likely dates from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century (1880-1910). It is very possible that this may have been one of the first seal presses for the Commissioner’s Office when it moved into the new courthouse in 1901.

 sunburst close up  Commissioners stamp side
 Hand painted sunburst on the side of seal press.  Side view of seal press.

Until next time!

Trivia Question: What year was the Great Seal of the United States first made?
May 12

Ohio Internship and Co-Op Appreciation Day

Posted on May 12, 2017 at 3:57 PM by Jessica Cromer

Section 5.255 of the Ohio Revised Code designates the second Tuesday of April as “Ohio Internship and Co-Op Appreciation Day” to raise awareness of the value of internship and co-op opportunities.

The Greene County Archives truly values our interns and all that they do to assist us. In the last year our interns have helped us identify and prep nearly two hundred boxes of Probate records for microfilming, assisted with relocating boxes for the installation of our mobile shelving, written several blog posts, written numerous social media posts, inventoried and organized our maps, assisted with inventorying microfiche that had been infected with vinegar syndrome, and helped us create some great exhibits. In addition to all of their hard work, they have had opportunities to attend a variety of local government and professional meetings including: Greene County Records Commission, Greene County Board of County Commissioners, Miami Valley Archivist Roundtable, and the Society of Ohio Archivists. Our interns also have an opportunity to attend Ohio Statehood Day each year at the Ohio Statehouse.

Our current interns are Erix Infante and Kristina Richey. Erix is finishing up his first year as a graduate student at Wright State University and is concentrating in Public History. Before moving to the Dayton area, Erix interned at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the Columbus Jewish Historical Society in Columbus, Ohio. Erix is currently helping out with our social media posts and has begun a full inventory of all of the maps in our collection.

Kristina is currently finishing up her Masters in Library Science, with a concentration in Archives Management, from Simmons College. Kristina currently works as a Patron Services Assistant at the Dayton Metro Library and has volunteer experience at the Wright State University Special Collections and Archives, and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman, Oklahoma. Kristina is currently working on cleaning twentieth century Probate records and preparing them for microfilming.

A big shout out to both Erix and Kristina, and our other interns who have moved on, for all that they have done over the last year! As interns, you play an integral role in the processing, preparation and digitization of historical records projects that our staff would not normally have the time to work on. We hope that the work that you’ve completed with us enhances your educational experience and provides you with the necessary skill sets for your future careers. Thank you for all that you do!


Out of the Clocktower will be taking a short hiatus while Greene County updates to a new website. We hope to return to our weekly blog posts beginning on May 12, 2017. In the meantime, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.