[APG Public List] Record Access in LaSalle County, Illinois
dwsuddarth at gmail.com
Tue Dec 29 12:23:21 MST 2009
Thank you for the suggestions. The naturalization records are in the
courthouse downtown and are not on open shelves. I do understand that most
of the time, the people at the courthouse are very busy and do try my best
to be courteous and patient. I was just really caught of-guard by the
response. I also thought it curious that the book I wanted was laying out
in the open in a public waiting area - not shelved or put away. For records
that are supposedly closed to the public, that seemed a strange place to
keep the book.
I also went to the new government complex on the edge of town to do some
land research. The people there are wonderful. It was just this one
department where I had a problem.
Thanks again for the suggestions and have a great New Year!
On Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 12:48 PM, Harold Henderson <
librarytraveler at gmail.com> wrote:
> David --
> I think you did very well, considering that you were unexpectedly
> confronted with complete nonsense! Ideally we would all be equipped with the
> relevant statutes and regulations, but this is a new one to me.
> I suppose the best approach would be to ask if this is an office policy, or
> a regulation, or a legal requirement, and then inquire how you can best
> learn the exact language of the law or policy, and who is responsible for it
> (or in this case, someone who might be able to recognize that it wasn't a
> policy or even to change it on the fly).
> It can also help to try to see the situation from the counter person's
> point of view. They're likely to be overworked, underpaid, and not terribly
> enthusiastic about people who ask naive and time-consuming questions about
> records. So there may have been no policy, just a way of getting rid of
> I have been in the county government records center (on the edge of town,
> not in the downtown courthouse). In the recorder's office (there as
> elsewhere) people come and go routinely and if you can find the
> grantor/grantee indexes and already know how to use them you will blend
> right in with the "regulars." If the naturalizations were on the same open
> shelves (I don't recall), you might well have been able to pull them down
> and look at them without question -- on the assumption that the response you
> got was simply a survival tactic. Obviously you should never violate any
> known restriction, but knowing where stuff is and how to read it when you
> pull the book down are great assets.
> On Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 12:27 PM, David Suddarth <dwsuddarth at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Hi everyone,
>> I was recently in LaSalle County, Illinois and had the opportunity to do
>> some research. I found an index entry at the LaSalle County Genealogy Guild
>> for the naturalization record of my great grandfather and his brother, who
>> were naturalized in the County Court in 1904. So, I headed to the county
>> courthouse in order to have a look at the records.
>> When I asked to see the records, I was told that I could not because
>> naturalization records are not public records. I told the lady behind the
>> counter that I believed they were, in fact, public records, whereupon she
>> once again stated that they were not and never have been. I could leave the
>> information with her along with my name and address (which I did) and they
>> would send me copies of any information they could make available, but I
>> could not see the records myself. Noticing that the book in which the
>> records I wanted to see was laying on top of a cabinet in the waiting area,
>> I asked if I could look up the pages myself. She replied that she "could
>> not let me do that" and stated again that they were not open to the public.
>> I asked if I could see a copy of the law which restricted the access of
>> these records. She replied that I could not (along with rolling her eyes),
>> said that was their policy and then she left the counter. I asked to see
>> her supervisor, was told no and given a business card for the department.
>> Seeing that I was not going to get anywhere, I left.
>> I did not have a copy of the law with me to show, but I really don't think
>> it would have made any difference. I have never had a problem accessing
>> records before (I have been lucky), so this was new to me. Is there a
>> better way I could have handled the situation?
>> David W. Suddarth
>> St. Paul, MN
> Harold Henderson
> Research and Writing from NW Indiana
David W. Suddarth
St. Paul, MN
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