The State Archives stores records in four separate buildings: the Archives stacks, the Government Record Center, the old Records Center (Historical Publications building), and the Blount Street Annex (BSA). The latter of these storage facilities houses voluminous amounts of materials in most of our major record series – state agency records, private collections, and county records. On the whole the records at the BSA tend to be records of a more current historical nature – 20th and 21st century rather than 19thcentury materials.
Lately and with more frequency researchers are requesting materials stored at the BSA. I first visited the BSA back in 2001, when I started working with the State Archives. About 2004 a particularly series of boxed materials caught my eye: Pasquotank County miscellaneous records, 1827-1917 and 1859-1940’s. The boxes caught my attention for two reasons – 1) I was born and raised in Pasquotank County and, 2) both date ranges covered the period of my historical interest which is the Civil War era.
It took me six years to work up the courage to ask to process those records. I am a reference archivist by trade and while I have studied archives and understood the theory of arrangement and description I had never processed (arranged) a collection. In my academic studies I was required to complete a practicum for the Archives class but my practicum actually involved reading a collection of Civil War letters and providing a subject index to the collection. From the user end of things, I have worked with processed county records every day. Knowing the end product, however, is vastly different from creating that end product. Yet whenever I went to the BSA to pull records for patrons I would see those Pasquotank County boxes and wonder what juicy bits of history were hiding in them. When I finally asked to be allowed to work those boxes a coworker agreed to watch over me and guide my work – with that promise I was granted permission to tackle the project.
Bringing the records to the main Archives stacks did little in the way of speeding any progress on my project. Other demands on my time meant those miscellaneous records sat un-worked. A little over a month ago my coworker (who was supposed to be watching over me) asked about the collection. Yes, I finally had time to get started and so it was that I began to work those Pasquotank miscellaneous records. What a thrill to be working with material from the mid 19th century. Excited to be actually processing a collection, I was soon to be astounded by what I found in those records.