The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell
I attended a preliminary, very informal meeting with some folks from UMass Lowell and the National Park today about the prospects of a collaborative effort to digitize (scan) a wide variety of documents related to Lowell’s past. Because the registry of deeds already has a huge number of land-related legal documents available online, this is a very appealing project for us. While this is all very preliminary, the vision that’s emerging is one of a multitude of - media, I think is the right word - all linked to a point on the ground identified by the property address. Included would be basic documents such as deeds, building permits, and assessor’s cards but the concept is to expand the collection to include photographs of the home, both inside and out, shared by present and former occupants and other documents that would be almost unlimited in scope - letters written by prior occumpants, shopping lists, receipts for furniture purchases - there’s almost no limit on what could be included. This vision could provide a very unique and perhaps first-in-the-nation digital history of the community. How can this be all possible? Well, it is a huge undertaking but advances in technology have moved this vision from the hallucinatory to the achievable. For example, in 1995 at the registry of deeds we paid $50,000 for 50GB of electronic storage. Just last month I bought an external hard drive of 200GB for just $99 plus I’m waiting for my $30 rebate check. Almost unlimited electronic storage is completely affordable. That’s a big factor in making this project a reality.
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