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Wilton Rescues Its Recorded History

WILTON, Conn. – Handling a document that's 210 years old is something most would do with extreme caution. But in Wilton, some old town records are a bit hardier for having gone through a preservation process.

A document from June 1802 is the minutes of Wilton’s first town meeting and may be one of the more interesting ones in the town’s collection. That's not because of its age, but because it has a rather large ink spill that occurred during the meeting.

“The kids love that part,” Assistant Town Clerk Ann Fiteni said.

Town Clerk Bettye Ragonetti has been focused on preservation since 2001. She started with the oldest documents but says it will take years to get to all the town's records.

“Everything that hasn’t been done, needs to be done," she said. "But we’re focusing on the ones that are desperate.”

Once the documents have gone through the preservation process, they’re not as fragile and can be handled by researchers or the public. More fragile documents, like those on onion skin, are protected in plastic sheeting that protects the ink and paper.

The documents are available to the public when the town clerk's office is open, which is 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

The books and documents are shipped to Kofile Preservation, a preservation company based in Vermont. This year, Ragonetti is sending the Index of Births, Marriages, Deaths 1934-1945; Index of Births, Marriages, Deaths 1911-1922; and Land Records Vol. 20.

The preservation is funded by a grant from the Connecticut State Library. Each year, the amount Wilton receives varies. Ragonetti is asking for $4,000 this year.

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