Excerpt from A Guide to County Records in the Illinois Regional Archives
The publication of this guide to the holdings of the Illinois Regional Archival Depository (irad) system is an important outcome of efforts begun nine years ago.
Planning for irad began in 1974 when the disposal of materials under Illinois' Local Records Act, administered by the State Archives, first reached appreciable levels. That program was thus successful from the viewpoint of local officials, but it did not address questions of the preservation and research use of permanently valuable records. The new regional system was designed not simply to prevent the disposal of such records, but also to provide access to them in the most practicable fashion. The system directly complements the Archives' holdings of state agency records as well.
Building the system demanded extended negotiations, of course, but those efforts were rewarding. Through them Archives staff found that there existed across the state a real interest in the preservation of the public records that reﬂect our past. Not only did archivists and histo rians welcome our efforts, but energetic groups of family historians and even many local officials wished us well. By the latter part of 1975 agreements were signed between the Office of the Secretary of State and the six universities which serve as depositories. Each university agreed to provide secure storage space and public access for the records of its geographic area; the Archives undertook to meet the costs of the system's staff of graduate interns, and to supply all coordination and support services necessary; and the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed a timely and generous grant to meet costs of the first two years' operations.
During the Spring of 1976 the first graduate interns were chosen, and the system began to function in August of that year. Since that time irad has accessioned more than cubic feet of original records, and reels of microfilmed material, from ninety-five counties of a target of 101. It has built a collection that is especially strong in the areas of public education, probate, taxation, and elections. The State Archives' program has benefited from the regional system in a number of ways. We have broadened and improved our relations with history faculties in the state. We have expanded markedly the reference ser vices we are able to deliver. The graduate interns have formed a recruitment pool for the Archives and, happily, a number of other historical agencies. Our recent publication, Windows to the Past, is sued in 1982, drew upon the system's holdings for the facsimile docu ments it contained. Even the format of this present guide is a distinct achievement, as an effective means to deal with problems of recordseries formation and description that textbook procedures could re solve only by extremely cumbersome forms.
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