As we spend our last week with Patricia Smith-Mansfield we are reminded of the great work she has done for our institution. Over the years, Tricia has steered the Utah State Archives and Records Service through a number of difficult situations and we want to highlight some of the great initiatives she has spearheaded.
Tricia’s clear direction has pushed the Archives to new levels of professionalism among the staff, in our procedures, in our customer service, in our intellectual control of the collection, and in our planning for future challenges. She has navigated our agency through the budget crunches and staffing stresses of the “Great Recession.” She has also managed a number of major projects including the building process for our current Archives building on Rio Grande St., the overhaul of the new Records Center in Clearfield, and the expansion of our current permanent repository.
Most importantly, Tricia has successfully managed each of the legislative changes the Archives has faced during the last 14 years. During her tenure the legislature has worked to update our Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA), created a Public Notice Website (a responsibility then assigned to the Archives), created an Open Records Portal, designated a government records ombudsman, and led the State Records Committee (SRC) during a period when the number of appeals before the SRC grew exponentially. With each situation, Tricia used her extensive knowledge of Utah’s laws related to governmental records, her understanding of governmental functions and the value of records, and her willingness to embrace the necessary concept of Open Government to influence the Archives in a manner that will be felt for years to come.
As our Archives and Patron Services Manager, Jim Kichas, has stated: “The programs and personnel of the Utah State Archives are all better off because we have been fortunate enough to have Tricia as our leader these past 14 years.”
It is with mixed emotions that we announce the retirement of our long-time director Patricia Smith-Mansfield.
Tricia has played a vital role in guiding the Utah State Archives for the last 14 years. Her knowledge, leadership, and fun personality will dearly be missed. At the same time, we are excited for her as she embarks on the next phase in her life–maybe she can finally find enough time for her art.
Over the next few days we are going to take some time to honor her and all she has done for the Utah State Archives and Records Service Division.
In July of 1897 Utahns gathered to celebrate the Pioneer Jubilee. This was not the first time people had celebrated the anniversary of the Mormon Pioneers entering the Great Salt Lake Valley.
Anniversary events reportedly had been happening for years. Yet, it was the first time that Utahns began to look at the event as a celebration of history rather than an anniversary.
For the first time, the organizers worked to put on an event that would not only celebrate pioneers, but would tell the story of what was finally being recognized as history. The original pioneers were declining rapidly in numbers and taking their stories with them. Events that had seemed contemporary in the previous decades, were becoming hazy memories to older generations, or just hearsay to newer generations. If the original pioneers were to have an official place in the halls of history, the generation of 1897 was going to provide it. The Jubilee was an opportunity to celebrate pioneer heritage while capturing evidence of the events that had formed society throughout the inter-mountain region.
Organizers intended the Pioneer Jubilee to celebrate, memorialize, and preserve history. Parades, concerts, and baseball games celebrated the anniversary. Unveiling of the Pioneer Monument memorialized the pioneers. Photographing the surviving pioneers, gathering and displaying artifacts, and creating the Book of the Pioneers captured evidence of the pioneer story.
For the first time Utahns began to look at and document their own history and, today, we still see the effects of that Pioneer Jubilee celebration held 120 years ago. The current State Historical Society and the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers organization both were a result of increasing historical awareness that was so evident at the Pioneer Jubilee. Many Utahns are familiar with the annual Days of ‘47 parade that takes over Salt Lake City and many other towns throughout the state on July 24th. That celebration and others can trace their roots to the Pioneer Jubilee. This was just our first steps along the path of understanding our larger history. This step led to exploration into the fields of mining history, Native American history, military history, and so many more.
As part of Utah’s Public Service Recognition Week, we want to honor the men and women of the Utah State Archives and Records Service who work to ensure the management and preservation of and access to our governmental records.
The preservation/reformatting section is responsible for a variety of reformatting processes used for the long-term preservation and easy access of essential documents or images. Our section microfilms documents for preservation, scans images, and duplicates rolls of microfilm for access. We also oversee the climate controlled vault for the 120,000 master microfilm rolls in our permanent collection.
Nathan Gardner, BFA Photography.
Hired October 2001
I digitize microfilm, microfiche, and sleeved microfilm for outside agencies as well as for the Archives. These images are used for worldwide online access and by individual patrons and governmental agencies. They are also used by various archives staff to make information of historic value and interest available to the public. I assist as supervisor, as needed, and I oversee the maintenance of the equipment within the micrographics/reformatting section.
Hired May 10, 2000
I started out as a micrographic section filmer. I prepped and filmed case files for 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City, UT. However, I filmed only for a short time. I was moved over from filming to the accessioning area of the micrographic/reformatting section. The process of accessioning the rolls of microfilm is to put the information from the roll of film into the Archives database. This process assigns the roll a unique tracking number. With the unique accession number assigned to the roll of film, an agency or the public has easy access to a roll of film. I also assist in the micrographics lab by making diazo film copies of the master film. I also barcode master microfilm, which provides an inventory control of our microfilm collection and allows easier access to the rolls for public use. Filming, duplication, accessioning, barcoding, and our other responsibilities help preserve the historic documents, and ensure that the records are available for the public to use.
Hired July 1987
I am an Archival Technician and have worked mostly in the Micrographics Section, with a few years spent at our Records Center. I have worked in all of the areas of the micrographics section, including microfilming, processing film in the lab, film duplication, and now data entry.
I learned how to digitize microfiche and roll film and I look forward to doing that again in the near future. Currently I am barcoding our master microfilm rolls to accession them into the Archives permanent collection.
James V. Duke
Hired January 2017
I started at the Archives in January 2016 as a volunteer because I wanted to use my Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree and I knew the archives was a great place with many great people. In January 2017 I was hired as an Archival Technician and I am lucky to work on a few fun and interesting filming jobs. Mainly I film documents or books for state agencies or from the Archives permanent collection. Filming is a new adventure. My other duties include making digital masters of TIFF images and transferring those images to Blu-ray discs, which are used in our Research Center. I also help process images for the website. I do various jobs and am always look for new ways to help and new things to learn, which is essential to our micrographics team. I am very fortunate to be paid for what I enjoy doing and working with many great men and women.
I am grateful for the hard work these four individuals do on a daily bases. They all are good at their individual jobs and are great representatives of the Utah State Archives. Everyone is very willing to help each other out from time to time, if assistance is needed. They all work very hard to produce the highest quality product possible and always in a timely manner. These four make up a great work force.
Join the State Archives in recognizing them along with other employees in blog posts throughout the week, both here and on our Recordskeepers Blog.
Governor Gary Herbert has declared May 7-13 to be “Public Service Recognition Week.” Here at the Utah State Archives and Records Service we wanted to honor the men and women who work diligently to assist Utah governmental agencies in the efficient management of their records, to preserve those records of enduring value, and to provide quality access to public information.
This week, we will have a number of blog posts highlighting our employees and their contributions to our institution’s mission.
We truly appreciate those that dedicate their lives to assisting our governmental agencies in the management and preservation of our history for the generations to come.
Often in this day and age the public feels, sometimes rightly so, that their information is too readily available online. To help combat that fear, the American Library Association has created Choose Privacy Week, an “annual, week-long event that promotes the importance of individual privacy rights and celebrates libraries and librarians’’ unique role in protecting privacy in the library and in society as a whole.”  While archivists are not often working directly in the libraries, nor are we librarians, we do understand the similar role we play in preserving archival information and providing access to that information to the public. We understand the importance of a user’s privacy. Our need to honor privacy while remaining transparent as we preserve governmental records can be a tricky balancing act. We have invited two member of our Transparency Team (Nova Dubovik, the State Records Committee Executive Secretary, and Rosemary Cundiff, the GRAMA Ombudsman, to help explain the laws that we follow when providing access to information here in our Research Center.
The Archivist’s Perspective
By Nova Dubovik and Rosemary Cundiff
The Utah State Division of Archives and Records Service (“Archives”) staff members go to great lengths to protect the privacy rights of citizens by preventing unauthorized access and balancing that with government transparency.
Alan Barnett, reference Archivist at Utah State Archives, expressed that “[m]aintaining both governmental transparency and individual privacy is key to preserving our democratic system.” He references the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA), which is Utah’s records access law, and remarked on “the need for a balance between these two demands.” Alan pointed out that, “the State Archives works to keep that balance between making government transparent to citizens, while protecting private information about individuals.”
GRAMA provides the guidelines to determine the proper classification of records. It is the basis for determining whether to restrict or not restrict access to a record based on the content of the information, and the context of the request. At the Archives, when a researcher requests material, to prevent the unintentional release of sensitive information, the staff reviews the holding classification and content. If necessary, the information is segregated and redacted before granting access. For the Archives a particularly relevant section of GRAMA is the section which states that restricted classification is not permanent, and that after 75 years a “records shall be presumed to be public.” (Utah Code Section 62G-2-310). This section of the GRAMA defines how privacy interests diminish over time. For example, a telephone number from a 50-year-old phone book would not have the same privacy concern as a current personal phone number.
Another interesting example of diminishing privacy over time is an Archives collection about the Castle Gate Relief Fund Committee. These records document the needs of families in the aftermath of the Castle Gate mining disaster, as well as amounts of relief funds provided to each family. When records relating to adults in this collection were requested in the past, they were restricted as private records, however, today they have become public records documenting Utah’s rich history. It is of note, that the records in this collection related to children will continue to remain private until the records are 100 years old to protect the children’s privacy.
As indicated by Alan, there is a balance between preserving individual privacy and government transparency and documenting our history. The Archives is quintessential in balancing all to promote a democratic system for future citizens.
Every year on May 1st, the Society of American Archivists focuses on how institutions can plan to preserve their collections in the event of an emergency. This year, the Utah State Archives and Records Service was able to participate in this nationwide campaign in a variety of ways.
On April 20, 2017, Archives Staff participated in Utah’s annual earthquake drill (Great Utah ShakeOut) and reevaluated our red “go bags.” During the drill, staff huddled under desks and tables until the “shaking” stopped. We then quickly and efficiently moved to our designated safe location until it was deemed safe to return to work. Staff were asked to determine the successes and failures of the drill to be discussed at a later time.
For our actual MayDay events this morning, staff gathered for a large re-appraisal project.
One of the core concepts of collection survival is to ensure that records are identified and maintained according to their appraised value. This allows for records to be destroyed or preserved in accordance with their approved retention schedules. As part of a larger cleanup and inventory project, a number of boxes were identified in our permanent repository that had been marked for destruction. Yet, some of the boxes appeared to have intrinsic historic value. These boxes needed to be reviewed and reappraised to determine if the records should be destroyed according to their retention schedules, or if the retention schedule should updated to allow the records to be incorporated into the permanent repository collection and maintained. As the old adage states, many hands make light work. In a few short hours we were able to correctly appraise all of the record series, many of which were slated for permanent preservation.
With the re-appraisal project finished, the staff gathered in the afternoon to discuss disaster preparedness and recovery. A video discussing the 2011 and 2016 earthquakes in New Zealand was introduced to open a discussion about planning for our response to such an event here in Utah. (The Wasatch Fault here in the state is an active fault that could cause serious damage).
The discussion also included a followup to our Great Utah ShakeOut drills and how we can improve our policies to better protect our staff and the records in our care.
As our preservationist, Alan Barnett, mentioned last week, preserving the records of Utah’s government for future generations is a core part of our job. A key component of that preservation is to ensure that the records will survive in the event of a disaster. Each year MayDay allows us to set aside some time to plan and prepare for the worst case scenario. This ensures that those future generations will have the records they need to understand our present and past.
As many probably already know, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the United States entering the Great War, later known as World War I. Our country was forever changed by the events of the Great War. Today’s social, cultural, economic, and political landscapes can be attributed in part to those events. Over the next year and a half, the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service will be highlighting record series related to the war to help us understand this period of time and the role local communities played in the larger conflict.
Today, April 6th, is the official anniversary of Congress’ announcement to enter the war.
This was a drastic change from the President’s plea for neutrality, made less than three years earlier. At the beginning of the war, Wilson urged Americans to remain neutral “during these days that are to try men’s souls,”1 and, while war raged in Europe, public opinion in our country was fractured. There were groups that sympathized with our European Allies and supported our entrance into the war. Other groups had family or friends still living in the countries under the rule of the Central Powers and wanted the United States to remain neutral. The isolationists, a third group, also felt that this conflict was not our business or our problem and that our country should not be involved at all.
Over the next three years, a number of factors contributed to Wilson’s change of mind. But America’s road to war is a topic so broad that historians have been writing books about it for decades. A select set of titles are offered below. All of these factors culminated in Wilson’s address to a Joint Session of Congress on April 2, 1917. Wilson’s forceful words were a ringing endorsement of protecting not only our country, but others who had suffered for trying to remain neutral as well; he asserted that Germany’s current tactics were “a warfare against all mankind… a war against all nations.”2
[America’s previous stance of neutrality was] no longer reasonable or desirable where the peace of the world [was] involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom [lay] in the existence of autocratic governments backed by organized force…controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people.3
Yet Wilson’s call to action was also a call for caution and moderation. America’s “motive [would] not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, or human right, of which we are only a single champion.”4
Wilson’s words led to days of discussion throughout our country. From conversations around home fires to conversations in Congress, Americans were deeply invested in the outcome. Newspapers ran story after story about the ongoing war, U.S. responsibilities, and the danger of Germany and her allies. On April 6th, America officially entered the war as a result of votes in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Their resolution committed “all of the resources of of the country” to bringing “the conflict to a successful termination.”5
Wilson immediately signed the resolution and issued a War Proclamation later that same afternoon, which also identified “alien enemies” living within the United States, and outlined how they could expect to be treated.6
The events of April 6, 1917, still have an impact today. As we commemorate the various anniversaries, we hope to document and help facilitate better understanding of the role that Utahans played in the conflict and how the larger conflict affected Utah.
Upcoming posts will continue to highlight the images found in the 145th Field Artillery scrapbook, found in the State Archives’ permanent collection as we prepare it for online access through our Digital Archives.
You can learn more about World War I and the Centennial Commemoration events around the our country at the following links:
Utah National Guard, 145th Field Artillery scrapbook, 1917-1918, President Wilson’s Message Asking Congress to Declare that a State of War Exists with Germany, Utah State Archives and Records Service, Series 10339.
Utah National Guard, 145th Field Artillery scrapbook, 1917-1918,Text or Resolution passed by Congress, Utah State Archives and Records Service, Series 10339.
Utah National Guard, 145th Field Artillery scrapbook, 1917-1918, President Wilson Issues Proclamation that a State of War Exists, Utah State Archives and Records Service, Series 10339.
Here at the Archives, we have a number of people that are focused on facilitating transparency in government. We took the time to speak with a few of them to see what they do.
Rosemary Cundiff is our Government Records Ombudsman. Her days consist of helping the public understand how they can access current government records, helping government employees respond to Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) requests, and mediating between the two groups.
Since she began this new role about five years ago, Rosemary has consulted with
thousands of individuals. Regular questions include how to request records, how to appeal a denial, how to respond to GRAMA requests, how to classify records, and how to interpret the GRAMA law (see her Sunshine Week post on GRAMA’s legislative updates).
Another aspect of her position is to assist the State Records Committee by mediating between the public and the governmental entities during the appeals process. Rosemary contacts every group that brings an appeal before the State Records Committee to see if they would like to meet and explore possible compromises. Of those contacts, 123 have accepted and tried to work through the mediation process; 81 have reached a successful resolution.
When asked how she supports transparency in her work, Rosemary stated that “we provide forms, the Open Records Portal, and information for people,both government employees and the public, to use” to help them access public records.
She helps government employees understand their requirements as records officers, shares information about the Open Records Portal and how it can be used by both government employees and the general public, and helps the State Records Committee in their work to balance between an individual’s privacy and government transparency.
When asked about transparency, Nova stated that the public has the right to access government records and she works to make that process easier. “Transparency is important, it’s not just a pain…It is the history of our agencies, and how we handle the issues of government.”
Glen Fairclough, a former newspaperman, is the administrator for our Public Notice Website. He works with government agencies to help them provide access to public meeting information on the Public Notice
As part of his work, he monitors the law regarding who and what needs to be on the website. There are 3 subsections in the law identifying the different requirements for the different types of agencies. Glen helps all of these agencies to know what needs to be made available and how they can use the Public Notice Website.
When asked about how he supports transparency, Glen noted that the public has the right to access the government information provided at public meetings. The website provides information about upcoming and past meetings. It includes meeting agendas, topics for discussion, meeting locations and maps for directions. Government agencies can also post their meeting minutes or recordings. It is just one more way for our residents to access their government.
The Archives understands the importance of transparency and government accountability, and actively works to promote transparency and trust between government and its citizens. This week we have tried to highlight just a few ways in which we are working to create a relationship built on trust and transparency.
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)