Readers, I had been planning another trip to Pensacola to get information on Emmett’s career as an attorney, District Attorney, and State Attorney during 1906-09. However, that second trip may be delayed.
I found this today:
I’ve kvetched about hitting roadblocks before, but this barrier is a significant one. Emmett’s cases are in there; probably courtroom oratory, too, something I’m desperate to get my hands on (since I still haven’t found his scrapbooks!).
Emmett’s information is sitting behind those closed doors, hopefully not in a damp, decrepit room, exposed to the elements, or mildewing away.
A colleague of mine at the Pensacola Historical Society tells me that quite a bit of the courthouse archive data is on microfilm. If that’s so, then perhaps the court records for these years were filmed, and the film moved. I’m waiting to hear back.
Speaking of mildew and records, a friend of mine in Chipley (Emmett’s boyhood home) had told me about the courthouse-and-mildew situation there. I needed to see the records in Chipley, too, wouldn’t you know.
Here’s a video featuring Circuit Court Judge Chris Patterson explaining what was going on. The problem wasn’t just with the building: The mold was in the historic documents and records, and local authorities were told that the mold was hazardous to health, so, both building AND records were off limits.
Talk about a perfect storm (pardon the pun). The hurricane-force storm that hit Pensacola two weeks before I came down to do research in May; the mold situation in the Washington County was going on at the same time. Both sources were out of my reach. Alas. Alack. Damn. Sturm und mold. (With apologies to F.M.Von Klinger.)
There is good news: Colleagues with the Washington County Historic Society report that earlier in the summer, the records were removed from the courthouse, and cleaned by a team that handles restoration and preservation of historic documents.
The records have been cleaned up now, they are available and accessible to the public at the County Annex on South Boulevard in Chipley.
Frankly, I’m a little nervous about the Escambia Court archives — I know what mold can do to historic documents. So much about Emmett, personally, has been hard to find. I am grateful for what I have, and I appreciate it so much when I (or a colleague) finds even the smallest detail.
Historic documents are precious. Let’s hope the folks in the Escambia Court archives have good luck getting their facility in good order again, and that their records are safe.
The University of Maryland Global Campus