Saturday, April 9, 2016

Three Cookie Fine

We are back digitizing marriage records for the City of Fredericksburg, and on Friday we did the years 1894 and 1893. Once we got into the 1800s we found the marriage certificates were too large for the scanning equipment owned by the Circuit Court. After a conversation with the archivist, it was decided that in order for us to complete this project we would have to use their photo copier at 64%, scanning one side, turning the document over to scan the second side before printing. He did not want us using the scan feature on the copy machine – he shuddered at the thought of having one or more of the documents caught somewhere in the copier, possibly shred to pieces. This hand copying process is slow and tedious work, but needs to be done in order to preserve these valuable documents.

When we got to August 1893 we noticed there were only a handful of marriages for the rest of the year. We looked at each other and said at the same time, “financial panic of 1893.” I first came across this when researching and writing a monograph on my grandfather, Harry Nunn. I learned from Edwin G. Burrow and Mike Wallace’s book, Gotham, A History of New York City to 1898 that by January 1894 over 70,000 New Yorkers were unemployed. Apparently the effects of the panic were felt in Virginia as well since only a few dared to get married in the second half of 1893.

Oh, and the three cookie fine … food is not allowed in the courthouse. We were thankful the policemen on duty yesterday knew us and let us through security with a container of homemade cookies we had made for the court staff. After threatening to hold onto the cookies, I agreed to pay a three cookie fine so that the three officers could enjoy a treat while on duty.

The cookies were a big hit!

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