Perspective /Atlantic County Clerk
This month, I want to talk about several of the changes that have taken place at the clerk’s office in the past 18 months, as well as over the course of time. I will be the first to admit that is surely has been a quick 18-plus months.
The office has seen many changes over the course of time. If you look back at the original records from 1837, they are all hand written. I find these extremely interesting, because I think about the time that it took to accomplish this feat. It’s my understanding that the staff had ink wells on each desk. The pens were cleaned on Fridays and the ink wells were filled for Mondays. If a mistake was made while writing in the ledgers, a tool, called a scratchers, was used to correct the writing error. I am told that with practice, one learned to scratch the surface just enough to remove the ink and not make a hole in the paper.
The scratchers resembled a small paring knife with a bone handle. It should be known that we still display these in the artifacts corner of the office today. Many years later, liquid correction fluid was used to correct an error. I also think about just how hot it was in the office as there was no air condition, and the pictures I have seen, the staff wore long dresses to work.
This is a far cry from the way we operate here today. Also, the penmanship is perfect. By 1927-1929, the typewriter was introduced to the clerk’s office and by the mid 1970’s, the computer was introduced. Today, our office is completely computerized, our records are all available to the public and can be viewed on our website. Prior to all of that, the only way to search something was to physically come into the office. It should be known that the nearly 80 percent of all the documents we record here today are received by E-file, which are electronically submitted. It’s amazing the changes.
It should be noted that by 1945, recording of legal documents were done by a Photostat machine. Prior to the purchase of a Photostat, documents were typed onto large pages and compared to the original. Atlantic County was the first county to have a Photostat machine. The Photostat machine stayed in operation until 1972 when the clerk’s office began microfilming.
Today, we continue to do upgrades to the computer system so that the amount of errors are limited. We also work diligently to get the documents posted and public as quickly as possible. We are currently upgrading our photo system to do pictures for passports. Our office now has a Property Alert System (if you sign up) that alerts you if someone tries to steal the title to your home.
Lastly, we continue to make upgrades to the carpets and furniture. Lastly, a wedding room has been created and the waiting room has seen updating as well. So the clerk’s office continues to evolve just as it has since 1837. Please know our office is here to assist you.
As always, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out.
Joseph J. Giralo
Atlantic County Clerk