Archives Award


The Church Record Preservation Committee (CRPC) of the Rochester Genealogical Society (RGS) of Rochester, New York, was nominated for their efforts in preserving local church records. The project was proposed by RGS member Larry Lavery who became concerned about the fragility of many local church records dating back as far as 190 years, some of which exist nowhere else and some of which have not been microfilmed or duplicated previously. The Church Records Preservation Committee was authorized by the board of directors of the Rochester Genealogical Society in 2005 with Larry Lavery as chairman. The churches, which have limited space and/or resources to properly archive their records, were receptive to the project. In return for allowing their records to be digitized and selected records placed on the RGS website, each church receives an archival CD of all their records, which provided the churches the ability to look at their records without using the originals. Some of the records have been completed and are available on the Rochester Genealogical Society website.

Initially the committee approached churches and requested their participation in the project and now there is a waiting list to preserve these important records. The churches that have seen the final product are enthusiastic about the project. A small but intrepid group (initially numbering only six people), they began by using their own computers, software, and cameras. They begged two cast-off microfilming fixtures from the LDS church in SLC and modified them to their purposes. They developed procedures for processing images of extremely high quality and continually improve their operation to increase efficiency. Records for over twenty churches and/or missions involving over 50,000 images have been completed. Some of these churches are no longer in existence. In 2009 RGS was able to support this work with the purchase of two computers and software. In 2010, the committee received an extremely generous anonymous donation to help further the preservation project, which will enable the purchase of additional cameras and equipment that can be dedicated to the project so that more members will be able to assist in the image processing.

[Nominated by: Robert Coomber, Rochester Genealogy Society]