WARREN - Time is taking its toll on many of the documents in the Trumbull County archives.
A partnership between Trumbull County and FamilySearch allows volunteers to digitally preserve county records, and they will soon be available online through FamilySearch.org.
FamilySearch, a genealogical organization sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has a free searchable database.
Photos special to the Tribune Chronicle
Arlea Carmack prepares an old Trumbull County records book to be photographed. A partnership between Trumbull County and FamilySearch allows the county records to be digitally preserved by Arlea and Neil Carmack, full-time volunteer service missionaries from Utah.
Neil and Arlea Carmack, volunteer service missionaries for the church serving in the area of family history records preservation with FamilySearch, began in February to digitize Trumbull County land records from the 1800s.
The Carmacks will volunteer in the archives for at least a year. Neil said archivists gave them a list of priorities for records to preserve. They will next be working on early marriage records.
Each day, the Carmacks report to the archives, where special equipment is set up to photograph each page of the records to be published online.
The Carmacks, of Centerville, Utah, received training in Provo, Utah, before coming to Trumbull County.
"We're getting faster and better at what we're doing," Arlea said.
"We took 4,500 pictures - that's pages - last week," Neil said.
The couple takes turns operating the digital camera - which is mounted to an apparatus that is suspended over the document being photographed.
"We want to get the best images we can, good focus, so you can see the names clearly," Neil said.
The digital images are loaded on a computer hard drive and sent to Salt Lake City, where they are scanned for viruses and checked for clarity, focus, shadows and overall quality. Once approved, the records will be copied for the Trumbull County Archives and published online at FamilySearch.org, where ultimately online volunteers will make them searchable by name.
"Some land records have whole families listed. If they migrated from other countries, it also lists where they migrated from and dates," Arlea said.
Lynn Wallace-Smith, Trumbull County records manager, said the archives average 21 and 43 visitors each day.
"Most of the recent researchers are doing land and property records, inheritance research and verifying mineral ownership," Wallace-Smith said.
She said the records are being preserved because of the deteriorating condition of the books.
''Once the pages crumble, those records are gone,'' she said.
After the records are posted on FamilySearch.org, researchers will be able to access the records from their home computers.
The Carmacks are also online volunteer indexers. Arlea brings her laptop to the archives so when she's not operating the camera, she can work on indexing.
"FamilySearch has worked very hard to make it as easy as possible to find and gather names for genealogical purposes," Neil said.