As of March 1, 2018, Montgomery County's 287 land records and corresponding index books, commonly known as "deed books," from 1773 through today are available electronically.
"It is important in this digital age that we continue to listen to and respond to the needs of the citizens of Montgomery County. Scanning and digitizing these deed books helps to preserve the integrity of the original document; provide ease of use and access to citizens and searchers in the office in the modern age of the digital world; and in the event of disaster recovery, the image has now been permanently preserved," said Montgomery County Clerk of the Circuit Court, Erica W. Conner.
"As a result, it has been a priority for me to increase the amount of digital original documents from our county's earliest days, which provide great insight into our county's rich history," said Conner.
Prior to 2018, only deed records from 1967 forward were available electronically. As a result, users often had to visit the Clerk of the Court's office and sort through the 24 index books and 263 deed records books to find documents.
"The Montgomery County Circuit Clerk's office land records system is first-rate," said frequent user Helen Spence, a lawyer with Fidelity National Title Group.
"The system is easy to navigate and allows the user to limit their search by any variable. Either in the clerk's office or using the remote online system, a user can search and view online the entire deed books collection, as well as the full plats collection," said Spence.
The project was funded through subscriptions paid by users for remote access to the limited and previously available online land records dating as far back as 1967. The revenue generated through the subscriptions was directly reinvested by Conner’s office to create a more robust subscription product, which came at no cost to Montgomery County or its citizens. The actual scanning and digitizing of the historic records from 1773 through 1966 was completed by Conner and her staff, along with Logan Systems, Inc., the county's current land record vendor.
"I think that the digitizing of the Montgomery County Land Records is fantastic," said Carl Correll, Engineering Technician with the Town of Christiansburg.
"I'm very happy to see it finally expanded all the way back to the very earliest books. It allows for much faster tracking, gathering and analysis of information, as well as only needing to print a small percentage of that for record keeping and files," said Correll.
According to the Library of Virginia, Montgomery County is one of a few localities in Virginia that have a comprehensive and consistent collection of historic records dating back to the county's inception. This, combined with the convenience of now having immediate access to the historic records through a subscription-based and secure remote access site, is yet another example of innovation in Montgomery County.
"As our work involves researching legal records found in various jurisdictions throughout Virginia, I can honestly say that for many years, the Montgomery County Circuit Court has set the highest standard for maintaining and organization of records," said Ralph Clements of Gary and Neel, Inc.
"The recent completion of scanning the entire catalog of deeds and making them available online is another example of this, and will be an asset to the community as well as a wonderful tool for land surveyors, legal professionals and others involved with real property," said Clements.