AURORA | Soon anybody with access to the internet will be able to scroll through some of Arapahoe County’s oldest historical documents. 

Matt Crane, the outgoing clerk and recorder for the county, took on digitizing some of county’s oldest land record books. They date from 1865 through 1900 — Arapahoe County was one of the state’s 17 original counties when Colorado became a territory in 1861.

The books are handwritten and Crane said in a news release that the documents that contain property transactions are still critical for real estate sales today. 

“Our record books have a rich story to tell about the changing landscape and property rights in Arapahoe County,” Crane said. “It is the responsibility of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office to maintain and provide public access to these books. We saw a critical need to begin preserving the deteriorating volumes from our County’s earliest days in order to protect the integrity of these records.”

Historical Record Books from the 1900s have not yet been preserved, and are in deteriorating condition. Photo courtesy of Arapahoe County

Funding for the project came from the county’s general fund to preserve 73 of the oldest volumes in the library, making Arapahoe County the first in the state to have a digital index of land records, according to Crane’s office.

Preserving the documents has meant clearing each page of dust, stains or contaminants. 

Then, “the pages are flattened and humidified, and then de-acidified. Each page is encapsulated in a Mylar protective sleeve and secured in an archival binder, which is consistent with best practices from the U.S. National Archives and Library of Congress,” according to the clerk and recorder’s office, which hired preservation company Kofile to work on the books. “Each binder is bound in an elegant red metal cover that is fire and water-resistant and embossed with gold text.”

Then the pages are scanned and linked to the digital index. 

Any more preservation will have to be directed by the incoming clerk and recorder Joan Lopez, who is an employee in the office currently.

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer