2022 Governor's Award for Archival Innovation | Wisconsin Historical Society

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2022 Governor's Award for Archival Innovation Winner Announced

2022 Governor's Award for Archival Innovation | Wisconsin Historical Society

The Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association (WRDA) has received the 2022 Governor's Award for Archival Innovation. The award is administered in cooperation with and the Wisconsin Historical Records Advisory Board.

About the Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association

The Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association (WRDA) was formed in 1918 and continues to work with its business partners throughout the state and nation to provide services that are convenient, efficient, beneficial, and safe through technology, system modernization, and implementing statutory changes.

Each county Register of Deeds is statutorily tasked to permanently keep safely and maintain the land records for their particular county. The WRDA has been proactive throughout the years ensuring these integral records are preserved and available to not only the county's staff and their constituents but to put the world on notice that something has happened to a parcel of land.

Real estate records are vital to the county and state level economy and the WRDA has long taken a proactive approach to ensure these records are accessible. The WRDA has:

  • worked to ensure funds are set aside for preservation and retrieval of these land records
  • assisted the national Property Records Industry Association (PRIA) in writing best practices
  • worked with land records vendors
  • sought legislation to allow for modernization of the land records archives
  • offered educational opportunities to its members promoting the importance of back scanning and indexing their records for safe keeping and archival purposes.

These projects allowed for Registers of Deeds across Wisconsin to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. During closures, the register of deeds offices were able to provide access to their records without delay. Additionally the last two years were the busiest years for real property sales and mortgage refinancing in recent years. Without the forward thinking of the WRDA, the real estate market and the state's economy could have been damaged by the title industry's inability to access county land records.

The WRDA continues to do its work to help members back scan and index their records for easy access and preservation, making them available for county and state staff, the title industry, and the financial industry. Additionally, citizens use these records for genealogy purposes.

The records kept in the Register of Deeds offices tell the story of the state's history through land and land ownership. These records are vital to the state's economy. Their preservation and access is an essential responsibility of the 72 Registers of Deeds in the state. The WRDA supports this work and provides advocacy and training for its members. The uninterrupted access to land records during the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates how the WDRA's innovations throughout the years helped set the stage for the industry's success.

About the Archival Innovation Award

This award recognizes individuals, programs, or organizations that successfully experiment with new ways to demonstrate the significance or relevance of historical records for understanding the past, or that use historical records to reach new audiences. This award is open to Wisconsin archival repositories and individuals only. The activity or contribution being nominated must have occurred within the last three years and may be continuing.

The Wisconsin Historical Society and the Wisconsin Historical Records Advisory Board jointly sponsor the Governor's Archives Awards annually. A panel of judges from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Wisconsin Historical Records Advisory Board recommended these organizations receive the award. The Wisconsin Historical Society's Board of Curators approved the 2022 Governor's Archives Awards.

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