WSL Gifts Microfilm Scanner to the Wyoming State Archives

Feb 9, 2023

Two men and one woman standing next to microfilm scanner

(Left to right) Guy Beaudoin, Sara Davis, and Jamie Markus with the microfilm scanner that Wyoming Vital Statistics will use for a digitization project.

The Wyoming State Archives (WSA) has a new ScanPro 2500 All-In-One microfilm scanner, thanks to the Wyoming State Library.

In the fall of 2022, Wyoming State Librarian Jamie Markus gifted the scanner to the WSA. The State Library won it in a drawing at the American Library Association conference in June.

“The State Archives staff is extremely grateful for the generous offer of this machine,” said State Archivist Sara Davis. The WSA has a substantial collection of microfilm, which has been considered the de facto format to preserve permanent records for years. State agencies were once required to deposit microfilm back-ups of their records at the State Archives.

Microfilm and digitization

Microfilm is still considered one of the best preservation formats. The State Archives collects all of Wyoming’s newspapers and microfilms them for public use. However, it’s becoming more expensive to create and purchase microfilm with the rise of digital formats.

This equipment will benefit more than the Archives. In December, Sara and Robin Everett, WSA Processing Archivist, met with Guy Beaudoin from the state’s Vital Statistics Services. They discussed the two agencies’ joint project. The Archives has a contract with Ancestry to digitize a variety of open records — most significantly, marriage, death, and divorce certificates.

Guy mentioned he was seeking additional funding to start digitizing his agency’s microfilm and microfiche. Included in the proposal was purchasing a microfilm scanner. Since the WSA was still in the process of setting up the new scanner, they agreed to let Vital Statistics borrow it to complete their work.

The Vital Statistics project

Vital Statistics is now using the new scanner both for general access to records on microfilm and to digitize all microfilm images. On the access front, they’re focusing specifically on records they have a basic index for, but not enough information in the digital file to provide a digital abstracted certificate. Digitizing the microfilm will help consolidate vital records into one database for issuance and preservation. The scanned images will be used to complete those records needing information, and the image will be attached to the digital files for reference purposes and for spelling and data clarifications.

The scanner will also be used to digitize the microfiche index cards. This will help ensure those are also available to the clerks for researching historic certificates where the state file numbers were changed due to missed or passed over documents. State file numbers will be added based on the county and date of the local filing.

“This is a great example of state agencies working together to benefit Wyoming,” Jamie said. “We’re glad we could support the efforts to bring more of the state’s history online.”

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