Good News and Bad News for Georgia State Archives

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Friends of Georgia Archives and History (FOGAH) has been posting some great updates on their website discussing the fate of the Georgia State Archives. To summarize, because of the great fight put up by the people of Georgia and others, Governor Deal and Sec. of State Brian Kemp have decided to restore $125,000 to Kemp’s budget in order to keep the Archives running into June of next year, after which control will pass to the university system. This restoration of funds, while great, will only allow the Archives to maintain its hours and they will still not be able to be open five days a week. The money also has allowed for two archivists to be retained, but the other 5 are still out of work. FOGAH is currently working with legal consultants to continue the battle. Please check out their website for more details and spread the word to your friends.

Destruction of Archival Records in Ruskin College, Oxford

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Archival records in Georgia are not the only ones which are currently at risk. I was alerted to this issue through SAA. Ruskin College at Oxford holds a great deal of union and labor related records. Unfortunately for historians, genealogists, and archivists everywhere, the principal of the college has used the excuse of needing to move forward as a reason to order the destruction of many of Ruskin’s records. Here is an article on the issue along with a petition which you can sign. Please spread this information. Administrators and others in power believe it is ok to destroy the history of the people. Let them know that a world without a past is not the world in which you want to live.
http://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/whose-archive-whose-history-destruction-of-archives-at-ruskin-college-oxford/

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

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Today, my Graduate Association celebrated Archives Month by hosting a tour of the archival resources we have available on campus: university archives and records center, a branch of the state archives, library special collections, and a manuscript collecting repository. All but special collections are housed in one building (owned by the state archives) on one end of campus. Though I have been on many tours through the building, it was a fantastic experience because I got to be a participant among historians instead of participating as an archivist.

One of the exciting things I learned about today was a project called Chronicling America: Historical American Newspapers, run by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Here are some quick facts about the project I grabbed from their About page:

“Each NDNP [National Digital Newspaper Program] participant receives an award to select and digitize approximately 100,000 newspaper pages representing that state’s regional history, geographic coverage, and events of the particular time period being covered. In order to plan for phased development, the annual award program began with targeting digitized material for the decade 1900-1910. In subsequent award years, the time period was gradually extended decade by decade, to cover the historic period 1836-1922.

Participants are expected to digitize primarily from microfilm holdings for reasons of efficiency and cost, encouraging selection of technically-suitable film, bibliographic completeness, diversity and “orphaned” newspapers (newspapers that have ceased publication and lack active ownership) in order to decrease the likelihood of duplicative digitization by other organizations.”

Using their search bar on the home page, you can narrow your search through key terms, specific states, dates, language, and specific newspapers. Or, browse their featured papers on the home page.

Here is a close-up from the Bisbee Daily Review which was on the front page today.

Bisbee Daily Review, October 12, 1912 Bisbee, Arizona

You can check out the rest of this newspaper and zoom in on the clever Columbus Day poem here: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84024827/1912-10-12/ed-1/seq-1/

Newspapers are a great way in which researchers across all disciplines can get a glimpse of what life was like for a group of people in an area. The above newspaper clipping from Bisbee was situated next to a clipping from Chicago which was focusing mostly on political issues and an upcoming election. The two demonstrate two groups of people in two very different areas and what their concerns were on a specific date in history. This project is very exciting for archivists and those we serve and will hopefully be expanded upon as time passes! Be sure to check it out and find out what the people of America were up to in the past!

Appointment of the First Archivist of the United States

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Emma:

Celebrate American Archives Month by learning about the appointment of the First Archivist of the United States, R.D.W. Conner, on This Day in North Carolina History! Currently, The Archivist or AOTUS: Collector in Chief, as many call him, is David S. Ferriero. You can learn more about how he carries on the traditions of Conner as well as faces new challenges, such as speaking at Wikimania, on his blog: http://blogs.archives.gov/aotus/

You still have 21 more days to celebrate Archives Month. What will you do?!

Originally posted on This Day in North Carolina History:

On October 10, 1934, Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed R. D. W. Connor as the first Archivist of the United States. Robert Digges Wimberly Connor, born in Wilson in 1878, was also the founding father of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History. In 1903, Connor accepted an appointment to the newly formed North Carolina Historical Commission.

He worked for four years as the unpaid secretary of the commission while also working with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, promoting public education through speeches and articles. In 1906, R. D. W. Connor accepted a salaried position as Secretary of the N.C. Historical Commission.  Connor’s stalwart leadership and his investigative mind guided the agency through its early years.

When Roosevelt appointed Connor to the national post, Connor found himself again having to build an archival program from the ground up. He successfully educated Washington bureaucrats as to…

View original 128 more words

Today is Columbus Day

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Today is Columbus Day. What Columbus wrote or didn’t write, did or didn’t do is strongly contested at all times. Because of the lack of absolutely proven sources, we’re going to examine this day from a historical perspective instead of an archival one. I’ll try to get back to the archives stuff on the next post.

When I was growing up, if you were lucky you had the day off from school. You may also spend school time learning about the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria and how Christopher Columbus discovered America. It seemed harmless enough. Columbus was the vision of the brave explorer who created contact with the New World.

Possible portrait of Columbus

Enter revisionist history. The focus of much of recent history is that of social history. How did historical events impact the lives of the people involved? In this case, it would be to examine the toll Columbus’ voyages had on the lives of the native peoples. Apparently, Columbus wasn’t the marvelous hero school children were told about. He was a real person, voyaging for the sake of wealth, discovery, and adventure. Imagine that.

I will refrain from my more cynical viewpoints about Columbus the man to pose this question: What is the importance of days like Columbus Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents Day?

I think when we, as Americans, celebrate these people, we’re not celebrating the men (or women) themselves, but the ideals which we have come to associate with them. It becomes irrelevant whether Columbus and his men caused havoc on the islands on which they landed, kidnapped native peoples, spread disease, and did not land in the area that is now the United States (which is certainly the impression I was given as a child, but that is probably some sub-conscious U.S.-centric thing we’re ingrained with). We don’t celebrate Presidents Day and think about how George Washington owned slaves, didn’t cross the Delaware standing up in a boat (which would be really dangerous and risky), and probably told a lot of lies in his lifetime just like the rest of us. We have these holidays to celebrate ideals which this country has some to hold dear: bravery, adventure, honor, patriotism, fighting for one’s beliefs, etc. I think sometimes my historian “what are the facts?” mind loses sight of this concept and how important heroes can be to any nation. The “truths” and “facts” about people and events should be acknowledged and children certainly shouldn’t be purposely led astray, but perhaps it is ok to simplify it down to: “Columbus sailed to the New World, he wasn’t perfect and did bad things, but he made an influential discovery and that discovery is what we celebrate.”

What do you think about these holidays?

Buttons and Banners: Archivists Preserving Presidential Campaigns

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Browsing the news today, as I often do when I should be reading, working on my thesis, or doing something equally studious, I stumbled across this story on the BBC News website: “Preserving US Presidential Campaigns on the Web.” What do you know! An international on the work of archivists and curators! Awesome! The video is fairly short, less than 4 minutes. Check it out here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19796114

Curiosity struck and I decided to look up other repositories that would have cool memorabilia from elections, it is that time of year, obviously. What better place to look than the U.S. Presidential Libraries!

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts has an extensive collection and ongoing exhibit of campaign paraphernalia, including an online slideshow of some of their artifacts. Researchers can also read drafts of speeches, files of information on what Nixon was saying, and see photographs of Kennedy from throughout his career.

Two other libraries which have great exhibits on Presidential campaigns are the Eisenhower and Carter Libraries.

If you are looking for a one-click option, I discovered The Presidential Timeline of the Twentieth Century which has fantastic online slideshows from the collections of the last thirteen Presidents of the United States.

Do you have any vivid memories of past elections? Do you collect voting memorabilia? Personally, I was pretty sad when my state got rid of the “I Voted” stickers…

Welcome to Archives Month 2012!

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Every year, archives around the country, public and privately funded, participate in a month-long celebration of our profession and the history we help people encounter every day. There are many ways to celebrate Archives Month. I have pulled together some options from the Society of American Archivists’ website as well as the Council of State Archivists for your enjoyment. I hope you can find something exciting in your area that interests you.

Here are the events currently listed on the SAA webpage

American Public University System’s University Archives Center
American Public University System’s (APUS) University Archives Center will host the Panhandle Documentary Heritage Preservation Workshop October 12–13, 2012, at its Academic Center in Charles Town, West Virginia. The event, co-sponsored by the Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County, coincides with American Archives Month and will feature a forum-style workshop with six sessions focusing on the management and preservation of physical and digital heritage materials including archival records, photographs, and artifacts. For more information or to register, contact Brad Wiles at bwiles@apus.edu.

Archives Month Oregon
The Oregon State Historical Records Advisory Board printed and widely distributed an Archives Month poster commemorating the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in Oregon. In addition, the State Archives is having an open house on Saturday, October 13, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. At this event, our new exhibit, “Centennial of Women’s Suffrage and Milestones in Women’s Political History,” will be introduced in the exhibit hall.

Portland-area Archives will again host the very popular “Oregon Archives Crawl” on October 6, 2012. More information on this event is available at http://pdxarchivists.wordpress.com/

California Archives Month
California archives, libraries, museums, and historical societies are encouraged to plan special events or exhibits that highlight their collections of valuable documents and artifacts to celebrate Archives Month. Participants are invited to share their Archives Month event on the California Archives Month website by emailing details of the event to info@calarchivesmonth.org. Be sure to include the event title, name of repository, location of event, dates, contact person, and website (if available). To view events, visit the California Archives Month calendar.

Georgia Archives Month
Along with archivists, records managers, students, and friends and supporters of archives, Governor Nathan Deal signs a proclamation designating October as Georgia Archives Month, Sept. 19, 11:00 a.m. Come to the photo shoot to show support, and visit Georgia Archives Month on Facebook!

Litchfield Historical Society
The Litchfield Historical Society in Litchfield, Connecticut, will host a variety of programs and lectures throughout the month, and will host the opening of the traveling exhibition “There’s a Map for That!”. Click here for a complete calendar of events. In addition, the organization will post one document, photograph, map, or other item from the collection per day on its Facebook page, along with an archives Word of the Day.

New York Archives Week
New York Archives Week, an annual observance of the importance of archival and historical records to our lives, is coordinated in New York City by the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. View a calendar presenting a brief overview of the various New York Archives Week events occurring on each day and details about each event, including RSVP instructions. For the latest news about New York Archives Week visit the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc., or join the group on Facebook!

North Carolina Archives Week
The Society of North Carolina Archivists created a promotional poster and bookmark to raise awareness.

Ohio Archives Month
The Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board invites individuals to celebrate Archives Month by recognizing the accomplishments of an Ohio institution in preserving and improving access to historical records. Nominations are due by October 1; for more information, click here.

Texas Archives Month
On this page, find the Texas Archives Month poster, ideas for celebrating Texas Archives Month, official Texas Archives Month proclamations, and a calendar of Texas Archives Month events.

University of Texas at Austin Archives Week 2012
In honor of American Archives Month, the University of Texas at Austin student chapter of the Society of American Archivists (SAA-UT) will host a series of events October 22-27 inspired by the impact of fashion and clothing on our cultural heritage, and their role as part of our enduring cultural heritage. For a listing of events and more information on Archives Week, visit http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~saa/archivesweek.html.

The information on the Council of State Archivists site will be updated as they are informed of events. They currently have information for Alaska, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

For my part, I am planning on posting about various archival-related topics including famous archivists, history of the profession in the U.S., answering some of the common questions I am asked about my job, and updating you on any exciting events I find along the way. I am also inserting Archives Month into the lives of my friends and colleagues by arranging a tour of our local archive for the History Graduate Association. It will be great fun!

Stay tuned, visit your local archive/historical society/special collections repository/library, have a fabulous time and be sure to report back with your experiences!

Update on the Georgia State Archives Closure

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Hello everyone! After a busy weekend spreading the word, the petition against the closure of the Georgia State Archives has (at this current time) 13,151 signatures! Congratulations! If you haven’t already, you can sign the petition here.

The movement is garnering a lot of press. Here are a few of the links, courtesy of the Georgians against Closing State Archives Facebook page.

The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, CA “Cuts to Georgia Archive Access Draw Protest”Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Supporters rally against Georgia Archives Closure”
(Republished by George Mason University)
Clayton News Daily: “Area Officials Mourn Georgia Archives’ Closing”

Support has been given in the form of public letters by:
The Society of American Archivists
Association of Canadian Archivists
American Library Association
American Historical Association

The country (and the world!) is rallying in support of Georgia. You can too! Remember, it’s not just their fight in another state. It affects us all.

Will 1984 Start in Georgia?

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As I only post semi-frequently, I am sure many of you will be surprised to notice that this post will be the second of the day. I warn you that it is also will possess quite a different mood from my usual writing. If you have ever wondered how archives and history can affect your life and why you should care about them, now if the time to really think about it.

For those of you who do not understand the reference of my title, the novel 1984’s main character works in a job in which he modifies the memory of his city by destroying or creating things as he is told. Archivists and archives hold great power in that they provide future generations with information on the past based on what they preserve. Because of this important task, archivists must attempt to be as unbiased as possible in their gathering of information.

The State of Georgia is planning on closing the doors of its State Archives to the public as of November 1st. Please read the Governor’s statement below and sign this petition to keep the doors open and history safe.
On September 13, 2012, the Governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, issued this statement:

“The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget has instructed the Office of the Secretary of State to further reduce its budget for AFY13 and FY14 by 3% ($732,626).  As it has been for the past two years, these cuts do not eliminate excess in the agency, but require the agency to further reduce services to the citizens of Georgia.  As an agency that returns over three times what is appropriated back to the general fund, budget cuts present very challenging decisions.  We have tried to protect the services that the agency provides in support of putting people to work, starting small businesses, and providing public safety.

To meet the required cuts, it is with great remorse that I have to announce, effective November 1, 2012, the Georgia State Archives located in Morrow, GA will be closed to the public.  The decision to reduce public access to the historical records of this state was not arrived at without great consternation.  To my knowledge, Georgia will be the only state in the country that will not have a central location in which the public can visit to research and review the historical records of their government and state.  The staff that currently works to catalog, restore, and provide reference to the state of Georgia’s permanent historical records will be reduced.  The employees that will be let go through this process are assets to the state of Georgia and will be missed.  After November 1st, the public will only be allowed to access the building by appointment; however, the number of appointments could be limited based on the schedule of the remaining employees.

Since FY08, the Office of the Secretary of State has been required to absorb many budget reductions, often above the minimum, while being responsible for more work.  I believe that transparency and open access to records are necessary for the public to educate themselves on the issues of our government.  I will fight during this legislative session to have this cut restored so the people will have a place to meet, research, and review the historical records of Georgia.” found on WSAV3.

And now starts my listing of reasons why this decision must not be allowed to stand:

  • The purpose of the archives of this country is to preserve, protect, and give access to the historical and government documents which belong to the PEOPLE. These are the values which we, as archivists, hold dear.
  • As a country, we are constantly fighting for openness in our government and the ability for citizens to have access to the information they need. This past year, President Obama and the National Archives agreed to began working on declassifying large amounts materials for this purpose. You can read more about that here.
  • Archives hold valuable information. The state archives hold all records created by state, and often county, governments and allow citizens to hold their officials accountable. How will the government be kept in check if they are allowed to hide their paperwork?
  • The archivists and records managers who run the archives and records centers use their expertise to inform the government which records need to be saved and when they should be transferred to a repository for safe-keeping. What will these government officials do with no one informing them of and working on behalf of these guidelines?
  • There is an economic impact to consider as well. Archivists will be losing their jobs. Any revenue for local restaurants, hotels, and businesses created by those who venture sometimes thousands of miles to do research will be lost. The Governor claims he will be saving money. Has he analyzed this repercussion?
  • Will other states see this as a precedent to be followed under the guise of ending state debt?
  • Of course, the intellectual loss will be great as well. Public researchers will be allowed only by appointment and only when it fits the schedule of the staff. Who will decide which researchers will be allowed in and when?

While my points and my comparison to the world of 1984 may seem extreme, the world has seen archives closed to the public or controlled by government before: South Africa and Nazi Germany. Please do not show America to be apathetic. Fight for our freedom for information and show Governor Deal that his decision is completely unacceptable.

The Value of History

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People discuss the value placed on specific academic subjects and what is more or less important for today’s youth to be taught in school in order to succeed in life. I am sure it goes without saying that I place a pretty value on History, but I am more than a little biased. This post, however, has nothing to do with the state of education or that whole Humanities vs. Science discussion (though why it always has to be “vs.” beats me). In this instance, when I say value, I mean monetary.

The U.S. National Archives supports a few different blogs, one of which is called The Text Message. Their most recent posting is about the Freedom Train, which traveled the U.S. between 1947 and 1949 bringing history to the country by displaying famous historical documents like the Emancipation Proclamation and the Mayflower compact. The idea alone was enough to keep my interest through the post. Now, we have the internet, but then, this was a major feat in outreach!

The main item in the post which caught my attention, however, was a document they included listing the insurance values of the various documents. It made me really wonder how these amounts were decided upon when no amount of money could restore these documents if they were destroyed. It also brings up issues of the values we place on physical documents. The text of the Declaration of Independence is available everywhere in various formats, yet nothing seems to compare to seeing the actual, original document in person. As a historian, archivist, and avid genealogist, I encounter this seemingly inexplicable attachment to historical artifacts quite frequently, but I do not think that this is a feeling only experienced by those of us of the Historical persuasion. Artifacts and documents have an incredible ability to make one feel connected to intangible ideas and times. Why else would we hold on to ticket stubs and the like?

Of course, if we didn’t, I’d be out of a job.

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