Chancery Records Index

Richmond, VA – July 2009 – The Chancery Records Index (CRI) is a result of archival processing and indexing projects overseen by the Library of Virginia (LVA) and funded, in part, by the Virginia Circuit Court Records Preservation Program (CCRP). Each of Virginia’s circuit courts created chancery records that contain considerable historical and genealogical information. Because the records rely so heavily on testimony from witnesses, they offer a unique glimpse into the lives of Virginians from the early 18th century through the First World War.

As part of the project, The Crowley Company is currently converting historical content from the 19 localities in Virginia to include Chancery Cases and related documentation. The material in question dates back to the mid-1800’s. Crowley is scanning to color JPEG2000 file format along with delivery of several derivative file formats. This project utilizes the Zeutschel 10000TT Color Book Scanner. In excess of 3 million images has been scanned to date and the project will continue for several years. Daily scan totals for this project are roughly 8,000 images per shift or 14,000 images per day.

The original court papers are flat-filed, indexed and conserved using a set of standards developed by the LVA. Since the tri-folded records are often in poor condition, special attention is paid to preparing them for digital reformatting. This laborious process is undertaken so that the best quality images can be captured in one effort. The valuable original records are then retired to secure storage.

The reformatted images—whether digital scans or microfilm—can be viewed at the Library of Virginia, at the circuit court clerk’s office or, in the case of digital images, from any internet-connected computer. The indexed but-not-yet-reformatted original records in the Library’s care can be viewed in the Archives Research Room prior to reformatting. During reformatting, some or all of the original records may be unavailable for viewing; however, the full index will remain available for research purposes. Information is added to the CRI in such instances to alert researchers regarding a collection’s availability.

There are over 195,000 cases indexed in the database and nearly 5 million images of chancery causes available online.