Township records to be microfilmed

Published 9:27 am Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Mower County Historical Society will begin microfilming the records of 12 Mower County townships starting in February 2012.

The project has taken more than two years to go from idea to reality, Historical Society officials said.

“I’m glad that we are finally able to give this project the green light,” said Executive Director Dustin Heckman. “This was one of the first big projects I started working on here at the historical society, and it is great to be able to say we made it happen after more than two years.”

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To cover the cost of the project, grant funds were requested and awarded from the Austin Area Foundation, The Hormel Foundation and the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grants program from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Legacy Amendment, administered by the Minnesota Historical Society. The grant funds will be used to complete the microfilming process, create a set of microfilm for each township and the historical society to use and hire a coordinator to carry out the project. The project will be completed by early June.

The purpose of the project is to make township records more accessible and preserve them in an alternative format.

“Township government is an important unit of government in rural areas,” Heckman said. “If these records are not preserved, we will lose some important information about the organization and settlement of rural Mower County.”

Heckman learned about how some townships lost records through accidents like fires. That’s why each township will receive a copy of the records on microfilm to store at an alternate location as backups. Microfilm was chosen as the alternative format because of its longevity. With microfilm being a steady medium for nearly 80 years and having a life of 500 years, it does not need to be converted as technology changes, unlike digital records which have an anticipated preservation life of 5 to 10 years. The historical society will also retain a copy to make these records more accessible to the public and researchers.

With the grant funds, the historical society will pay for 90 percent of the project. Another grant is pending that would cover an additional five percent. To fully fund the project, the historical society is looking for donations. Donations can be sent to the Mower County Historical Society with “Township Records Microfilming” in the memo line.

Anyone interested in applying for the Township Records Microfilming Coordinator position may do so by Friday, Jan. 6. More information on the position may be found at the historical society’s website,

Check out the Mower County Historical Society’s quarterly newsletter or Facebook page for more updates.