Telling the Government’s Story

Defining aswlogo-vc-nr.jpg fact-based, historical government narrative can only be done though existing historical records. As stated previously, government records are the business of the governed and, here at the Utah State Archives, our purpose is “to provide quality access to public information” (Utah Code 63A-12-101 (2)(i)(2010)).

With millions of records in the Archives’ custody, this task can seem overwhelming at times. Our records processing staff, in concert with our wonderful volunteers, diligently work to describe records in
our custody and create research guides, indexes, inventories, finding aids, and other tools for accessing historical records.  Beginning in June of 2006, the Archives also began providing access to records online. Today, there are over one million items available on the Utah State Digital Archives. Each record series that the team is able to process is another set of records easily accessible by the public.

As we process our collections and work to make the records readily available to our residents, the story of our government emerges. Our own Jim Kichas has written about our collection from Utah’s Department of Health regarding the 1950s sheep radiation study (Series 11571). These investigations into sheep deaths in Cedar City, Utah during the 50s were linked by the government to fallout from the Nevada Testing Site, and provide an in-depth look at problems suffered by and the government response to those that were “Downwind in Utah.”

The government record collections here at the Archives can also be used to help everyone understand their personal family history. Gina Strack works tirelessly to provide access to vital records which link us from generation to generation. Birth and death records that have become public records are made available online. Marriage records and Court records (such as divorce and adoption) that have been transferred to the Archives’ custody can be accessed through our Research Center. Using these government records we can understand just how we are connected to our ancestors who created our communities.

These are just two types of records that are preserved by the Archives to provide the foundation for Utah’s fact-based, historical government narrative. There are many more within the collection, and we work to ensure the public can access them. For, as Mizell Stewart III  has written, “Access to meetings, minutes and records of our elected and appointed representatives is a key element of the constitutional right to petition the government for redress of grievances. It is not strictly for the benefit of the news media.” (Sunshine Week celebrates the public’s right to know, by Mizell Stewart III VP of New Operations, USA Today Network)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s