Meet Dorian Ashton, Judicial Assistant Archives coordinator for the Third District Court in Salt Lake City. For almost two years she has been responsible for the administration of the Court’s archives which includes keeping records of the court cases filed, managing the retention schedules for these cases, and arranging the storage of these documents both on site at the court house and at the State Records Center in Clearfield.
Since becoming the coordinator, Dorian has sought to streamline the processes needed to perform her job. One of her improvements includes the creation of a consolidated case listing that could be easily accessed by any court clerk in her absence. To accomplish this she had to build various Excel spreadsheets, databases and tracking log books that facilitate the search for old court cases. An example she gave was regarding the wills/testaments that have been kept by the courts for safe-keeping since the mid 1800’s. Some of the books used to log these wills have been in existence for almost 150 years and are becoming very frail. In order to preserve these log books and to expedite searches, Dorian has created an Excel database. Using the database (instead of the old books) abbreviates the search time and allows for a more comprehensive use of variables (name, date of death, etc.) used in the search. Along with the database, she has devised electronic tracking forms that can be utilized for keeping records of requests.
Dorian is very passionate about her job and embraces all aspects of this complex position. “I love everything about my job. I love the good and the bad.” She is very much a ‘people person’ and as such she relishes the opportunity to help the public, especially when finding old court cases presents a multitude of challenges. Some of the court cases are on microfilm, some on paper and there are occasions when the case is simply in another jurisdiction. “Many people contact my office and are not sure how or where to begin in finding old cases (such as divorce, adoption, etc.).” Her tenacity pays off when she gets to see their reaction as she informs them that she has found what they were searching for.
Should anyone ever find themselves taking on her position (or one just like it) she has some advice that would be wise to heed:
“Always work as a team. Be patient with the public and people that don’t know what they need. Don’t hide mistakes, but find ways to fix them. Be aware of privacy and retention guidelines. If at some point you feel discouraged, remember that our archives are part of people’s lives and state history and you are in charge of preserving it.”– Dorian Ashton, Judicial Assistant Archives Coordinator at Utah’s Third District Court
Dorian is not only a public servant for the State of Utah and its courts, she is a reservist for the United States military. It’s obvious that she feels a deep sense of pride for both State and Country and in her closing words she expresses her gratitude. “I’d like to thank everybody that works on archives-related areas and all the beautiful people I have interacted with during my ‘detective work’ in locating old records.”