In 2018 Exploring Rockingham’s Past (ERP) launched. ERP is an online repository created to house local records from the Rockingham County, Virginia circuit court. Just a little over a year before its launch, Clerk of the Court, Chaz Haywood entreated facility and graduate students within the history department of James Madison University to help develop community access to the records housed within his institution. Sadly, over the decades the records of the courthouse had fallen into disarray, rendering them useless. Seeing this as a significant loss of culture and heritage, Haywood and James Madison University began developing a platform that could house digital versions of individual records, and while students collected, arranged, and described collections to be digitized. The first collection to be featured on the site was the Shenandoah National Park collection, consisting of records related to the creation of Shenandoah National Park and the removal of families from their lands. Within a year, ERP has grown and launched its newest collection, the Rockingham County's Prohibition Records, which details the history of illegal production, transportation, and importation of ardent spirits in Rockingham from 1921-1935.
As the repository continues to grow, new concerns develop as well. While making the records digitally accessible constitutes a large part of the project, it is now time to consider how to make the collections more usable. The current article discusses the development of ERP past, present, and future, detailing the ways current graduate student Kayla Heslin seeks to transform the project.
"Exploring Rockingham County’s Past: Recapturing Local History and Promoting Accessibility,"
Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies: Vol. 6, Article 29.
Available at: https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/jcas/vol6/iss1/29