104°F
weather icon Clear

Clark County wants to create online public records archive going back to 1909

Business proposals from reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, candid photographs of alleged mob bosses, paperwork for plans to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.

Those public records and more — the fabric of Clark County’s history — will be at the fingertips of anyone with a computer and internet access as an ongoing initiative by the county clerk’s office comes to fruition.

County Clerk Lynn Goya is on a mission to digitize every public record her office has in order to create an online archive of documents dating back to 1909, when Clark County was created by dividing Lincoln County.

The county clerk’s goal is twofold.

First, to immortalize the public records in a format that won’t degrade over time. Second, to allow the public to easily search the archived records by subject matter, date and content.

“Just like Google,” Goya said. “So it’s simple for the user.”

Within a few months, the clerk’s office expects to migrate the documents it has already digitized — records from the past eight years or so — to the online archive: OpenText Enterprise Content Management.

Once that’s established and open to the public, the county will finish digitizing another century’s worth of records. The clerk’s office holds records documenting the operations of the county commission and other county boards.

It’s a lofty ambition, literally.

The clerk’s office reports that if all of its printed public records were stacked on top of one another, the pile would reach 488 feet, a bit taller than the Mandalay Bay tower.

Right now, those records are stored in close to 70 filing cabinets and four stacks of cardboard boxes inside the clerk’s office on the sixth floor of the Clark County Government Center.

Records are separated into subjects that range from the banal to the bizarre. A filing bin drawer labeled “Parks &Recreation” sits adjacent to one labeled “Nuclear Waste.”

The filing system is arcane and doesn’t lend itself to staff trying to find old public records, said Rocio Leon, senior office specialist.

It can sometimes take hours or even days for a trained clerk’s office employee to assemble the documents for a complex request, she said.

“When we put this stuff in the system we can just search by keywords,” Leon said. “And if they have a range of years we can narrow it down with an advanced search. It will make it a lot easier for us to locate the records.”

The program’s premise has the thumbs-up from Barry Smith, executive director of the Nevada Press Association.

He said an online archive of public records will be beneficial to not only journalists and historians, but also other members of the public who aren’t familiar with the current record request process.

“This is a real service by the county,” he said.

Last week, the County Commission gave the clerk’s office permission to apply for a $100,000 grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission to fund the digitization of its archives.

The project is expected to take several years to complete. With literally tons of documents to process, Goya said her staff is prepared to recover some of the county’s lost or forgotten history.

“We believe with this project we’ll find a lot of things we don’t even know about it,” she said. “It’s like a treasure hunt.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477- 3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
THE LATEST