Port Byron Historian comes to you tonight from Washington County, NY. The trip has certainly illustrated what a good job our clerks do in Cayuga County. It wasn't that long ago that the wills and surrogate records were made available for patron viewing from a desktop computer. You no longer have to wait for a clerk to retrieve the disk of digitized images to be browsed. They are all in one place at a terminal for easy viewing. If a person has multiple files on record, they are all contained is a single file. A future improvement perhaps could include an extra terminal.
Much to our surprise, Washington County only has the records on microfilm and each and every file type is considered a separate record. If a person has a guardianship, will, probate, appointed appraiser, inventory, letter of testimony etc, each file is on a separate real, which the clerk has to retrieve and load while you stand behind him or her as you attempt to read it. The experience has made me so much more appreciative of the efficiency we have within our own county. In addition, different record types are held at different sections within the building complex. This makes it very difficult to browse estate or other similar files to search for your family.
We never leave empty handed but being unable to browse records does limit what you can find on a short time table. It is always nice to compare how records are handled from one county to another. Cayuga County is a leader in setting the example for the ease of research. Sometimes it takes a small trip to make you appreciate what is right within your own back yard.