STAUNTON – Augusta County Clerk of Circuit Court R. Steven Landes announced today that his office has entered a partnership with the James Madison University’s (JMU) Department of History and the JMU Libraries to support the Histories along the Blue Ridge project. The Rockingham County Circuit Court Clerk, Madison County Circuit Court Clerk, and Rappahannock County Circuit Court Clerk are already participating in the project. Histories along the Blue Ridge is a project and website that makes selected historic records digitally available to the public.
“We are very excited to announce this important partnership between the Clerk’s Office, the JMU Department of History, and JMU Libraries,” Landes said. “As we work to conserve and preserve Augusta County’s significant historic records we look forward to hosting a JMU History Department graduate student to continue that process and expand our work identifying and digitizing these historic records.”
"The Department of History is very excited for this partnership with the Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office. Augusta County at one time encompassed a vast amount of land and the Clerk’s Office still holds a trove of important historical records,” said Dr. Kevin Borg, JMU Director of Public History Program. “It will be a great educational experience for our graduate students, while making these records available for the public."
Histories along the Blue Ridge is the new name for Exploring Rockingham’s Past, a project launched in 2017-2018 to make selected historic records from the Rockingham County Circuit Court digitally available to the public. Keeping with the original project mission, each year, graduate students from James Madison University partnered with local Rockingham Circuit Court Clerk, Chaz Haywood, to make select collections digitally available. Since 2018, the project has grown rapidly beyond Rockingham County through collaborations with interested community actors and courthouses in neighboring counties along the Blue Ridge Mountain Range in Virginia. Future initiatives will also add select, non-court records to the Histories along the Blue Ridge collection as well. The Histories along the Blue Ridge website can be found online at https://omeka.lib.jmu.edu/erp/.
The Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk is the steward of historic records dating back to 1745. The Clerk’s Offices throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia possess a wealth of historic records. These historic records require constant protection and preservation work to ensure these artifacts remain in existence for future generations. The digitization of historic records makes them accessible for many more citizens. The Clerk’s Office has an online archive portal, and it can be accessed via the Clerk’s Office webpage or by visiting https://acch.omeka.net.
The Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office is in downtown Staunton at the Augusta County Courthouse. The Clerk serves as the recorder of deeds and probate judge, issues marriage licenses and is the official court administrator for all civil and criminal cases. The Clerk creates and maintains all court files and records, prepares court orders and jury lists, contacts jurors and issues summons and court processes. More information about the services of the Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office can be found online at https://www.co.augusta.va.us/government/circuit-court-clerk.