The Williamson County Historical Society Museum has been selected to participate in the Museum Assessment Program (MAP). Through guided self-study and on-site consultation with a museum professional, participation in MAP will empower the Williamson County Historical Society to better serve the citizens of Williamson County by facilitating its museum resources and attempting to match the highest professional standards of the museum field.
The program is funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and throughout its 30 years has been administered by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). As part of the IMLS National Leadership program, MAP advances best practices and fosters improvements in museum management. MAP is a self-motivated program; application to and participation in MAP is initiated by each local institution and those accepted invest considerable human and institutional resources into the assessment.
The Williamson County Historical Society took possession of the old county jail in Marion in 1972 and opened its doors to the public in 1976. Since then, the museum has been dedicated to the preservation of the county’s rich past and has been filled with historic county artifacts and memorabilia. In addition, the museum has also developed into a leading genealogical research library that is open to the public. Society President, Sam Lattuca, stated that the museum is looking forward to taking a fresh look at the museum’s operation in light of taking advantage of new technologies that have developed and that could potentially make the museum’s assets more accessible.
Part of the assessment program involves the cooperation of individuals from the community who are outside the management of the museum. Those who wish to be involved in the program should feel free to contact the museum.
The county museum is currently under its winter hours of operation and is open on Saturday only from 10 AM till 3 PM due to heating costs of the old building. The museum will resume its Monday through Saturday schedule starting March 2, 2015. The museum is located at 105 S. Van Buren Street in Marion, Illinois and they can be reached at 618-997-5863, their website www.wcihs.org or can be found on Facebook.
Early Williamson County Court Records from the formation of the county up into the 1920’s are now indexed on this site on the Records Page. If a search of these indexes reveals an ancestor or person of interest, copies of the original court files are available. New Indexes are as follows:
Chancery Court Records Index, 1842-1912, 5,663 Names
Common Law Court Records Index, 1840-1900, 7,905 Names
Criminal Case Records Index, 1840-1912, 3,349 Names
Divorce Record Index, Williamson County, 1844-1920, 4,331 names
Partitions Index, Williamson County, 1845-1921, 12,729 names
The Williamson County Chancery Court records index covering the years from1842 to 1912 is now available on the Records Page of this site. The index contains the names of 5,663 people or businesses. With any luck over the next week or two, I will try to get the indexes posted for Common Law Court, Criminal Court, Divorce Court and Partition files.
Chancery court, known as the “court of equity”, was similar in many ways to the small claims court of today and handled most all smaller disputes. Typical cases would involve creditor and vendor bills, mechanic liens, injunctions, summons, specific performance cases, and all sorts of land disputes including deed claims, land warrants, property rights and disputes. The files provide unique insight into the lives of our ancestors.
These records took countless hours to transcribe from old documents and provide an invaluable resource for genealogists and historians that would normally never be made available it they hadn’t been preserved. The WCHS is in possession of each of the listed case files and they can be copied on request for a fee of $10 plus .50 for each page scan. If a search of the indexes locates a person of interest, a request for copies of the files in paper or digital format can then be made for a fee. Please, notate the corresponding file number, i.e. CR-012 and year. Contact Us
Have a happy and prosperous New Year!!
A reminder to all WCHS members that as the New Year starts the 2015 dues are due. Please remember to renew your dues and don’t forget to update you mail addresses so that the 2015 quarterlies can reach you. Feel free to use the “Contact Us” page for changes.
We have a number of projects in the works and your dues will help support our new efforts to improve the museum. For those who are not members, show your support of Williamson County history preservation by becoming a member. Just click the “Join WCHS” link at the right.
The Williamson County Museum is host to one of the best genealogical libraries in Southern Illinois and in addition, hosts an incredibly eclectic mix of Williamson County history within its walls. Whereas many museums are more topical in nature, i.e. Civil War museum or Battle of Gettysburg museum, this museum attempts to contain and catalog as much information as possible about an entire county.
To properly catalog all the information contained in the museum in the past, it has been done on paper and partially on computer files. We are now in the process of transferring this information to databases and expanding on it, which will give us the ability to instantly search for surnames or objects through tens of thousands of photos, objects and references, an incredibly more efficient way to search for information which will benefit all.
To accomplish this will require two things. First, volunteer help to enter data or research historical objects. Second, we need to expand our software and computer abilities in the museum. We really need about $1,000 to do it right.
If you have any time to volunteer please get ahold of us using the Contact Us page on this site.
If you are tired of getting presents on Christmas that you don’t need or want, ask a friend or family member to donate to the museum in your honor instead. Donations can be made securely using PayPal by clicking the Donate Button on the right side of the page. Even if you don’t have a PayPal account you can still securely use your credit card.
Our history is our heritage and needs to be preserved and accessible.
Please support the museum and help us turn a good library and museum into an even better one.