Category: News

Endangered Data Week

Endangered Data

A healthy democracy relies on an active and informed citizenry, which in turn depends on transparent government and open access to information. Today, this reality is under constant threat, whether from the fragile nature of digital data or the ongoing risk that information can be easily removed from the public domain. Threats like these demand a greater awareness and accountability from both engaged citizens and the institutions that exist to serve the public good.

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Endangered Data Week is an effort to bring the concerns inherent to preserving and providing ongoing access to digital information to the forefront of the public consciousness. The Utah Division of Archives and Records Service (State Archives) is mandated to preserve and provide access to the permanent records of Utah government. Endangered Data Week provides us with a unique opportunity to explore how we currently work towards these goals, as well as provide an update on where this work will take this institution in the future.

Current Efforts

The State Archives provides records management services to state and local governmental entities across Utah. This work helps insure that records are properly scheduled, and that data is either destroyed according to its retention schedule, or preserved as a permanent record of enduring value.

A primary function of the State Archives is to preserve and provide access to permanent government records through the Research Center. The State Archives has made an institutional commitment to developing systems and programming that allow us to preserve and provide access to digitally-born government data with the same confidence and surety that we have for paper records. The State Archives Digital Preservation Framework documents the high level goals and principles that the institutional Electronic Archives Program is founded on.

Currently, the State Archives is in a unique position to not only help manage, preserve, and provide access to government information, but to also help educate citizens on their rights to access that information and help guarantee government accountability. Utah’s Government Records Management and Access Act (GRAMA) provides the statutory authority that governs the preservation and access of government information, and several members of the State Archives staff are engaged in this important work of helping promote and guarantee ongoing government transparency and accountability.

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Open Records Portal Home Page

This work of preserving and promoting open government is supported by the State Archives administration of both the Open Records Portal and the Utah Public Notice Website. The Open Records Portal offers a dynamic web space that allows Utah citizens to make GRAMA requests and access government records online, while the Public Notice Website informs members of the general public of government activities by posting agendas and minutes from open public meetings online.

The Future

Helping secure open government and transparency through the preservation and access of government records is a central mission of the State Archives. Multiple institutional efforts are underway to build on the programs that help us support this important mission.

Currently, State Archives staff are engaged in building the Electronic Archives Program based on the fundamental principles outlined in the institution’s Digital Preservation Framework. This includes establishing the policies, procedures, and guidelines that govern the entirety of the program: from the moment digital government records are born to their eventual preservation in the State Archives. Another major piece of this effort is securing a digital preservation system that will allow for the ongoing preservation of electronic records, while protecting their authenticity and access. In this effort to help ensure the long-term viability of endangered data, the Electronic Archives Program is founded on a variety of international standards, including the Open Archival Information Systems (OAIS) reference model, the Trusted Digital Repositories standard, and the DCC Curation Lifecycle Model.

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DCC Curation Lifecycle Model

The continued growth and development of the Open Records Portal provides another opportunity for the State Archives to promote open government and insure that data, that might otherwise become endangered, is made open and accessible to citizens. Future development of the Open Records Portal will focus on enhancing the experience and capabilities of both portal users, as well as the assigned records officers for each governmental entity tasked with responding to GRAMA requests and making the public information from their institution openly available for online public inspection and use.

These are some of the major institutional efforts currently being undertaken at the State Archives to promote open government. By providing the tools and information for citizens to interact with their government, the State Archives is helping build a more active and engaged citizenry who will actively partner with us to achieve the goals of open government, transparency, and a prevention of the loss of endangered data.

America Comes to the War, 1917

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.

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145th Field Artillery scrapbook, Series 10339

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

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145th Field Artillery scrapbook, Series 10339

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

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145th Field Artillery scrapbook, Series 10339

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:

As noted above, here are a few books about the U.S.’s decision to enter the Great War:

  • America 1914 – 1917 by Walter Millis (1935)
  • America’s Entry Into World War I: Submarines, Sentiment, Or Security? by Herbert J. Bass (1964)
  • Over Here: The First World War and American Society by David M. Kennedy (1980)
  • Nothing Less Than War: A New History of America’s Entry into World War I (Studies In Conflict Diplomacy Peace) by Justus D. Doenecke (2011)
  • The Zimmermann Telegram: Intelligence, Diplomacy, and America’s Entry into World War I  by Thomas Boghardt (2012)
  • America’s Greatest Blunder: The Fateful Decision to Enter World War One by Burton Yale Pines (2013)
  • The United States in World War I: America’s Entry Ensures Victory by Jane H. Gould (2014)

Notes

  1. Woodrow Wilson: “Message on Neutrality,” August 19, 1914. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=65382.
  2. 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.
  3. Ibis.
  4. Ibis.
  5. Utah National Guard, 145th Field Artillery scrapbook, 1917-1918,Text or Resolution passed by Congress, Utah State Archives and Records Service, Series 10339.
  6. 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.

Sources

The American Presidency Project. “Woodrow Wilson: “Message on Neutrality,” August 19, 1914. Accessed March 31, 2017, at http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=65382.

National World War I Museum and Memorial. U.S. Enters the War. Accessed March 31, 2017, at https://www.theworldwar.org/us-enters-war.

Utah National Guard. 145th Field Artillery scrapbook, 1917-1918. Utah State Archives and Records Service. Series 10339.

Transparency in the Archives

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 CundiffRosemary 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.

Archives Training TeamNova Dubovik is the Executive Secretary for the State Records Committee and works with our Open Records Portal (see her Sunshine Week post on our Portal to Sunshine). She works to train government employees on the GRAMA law and the process for responding to record requests.

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,Glen Fairclough.jpg 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
Website.

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.swlogo2

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)

Records Preservation Grant Funding Available

record-book_28507The Utah State Archives and Records Service in cooperation with the Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board has grant funding available to non-profit cultural heritage organizations and local governments for historical records preservation projects.

Funding can be used to help Utah repositories preserve at-risk, historic records and to provide access to important collections. These grants are intended for short-term projects. This year we are pleased to offer grants of up to $7,500. All grants require a one-to-one in-kind and/or cash match. Grant work cannot begin until July 10, 2017 and all work must be completed by June 25, 2018.  All grants must contain a public access component, such as posting digital images online or creating an on-line finding aid or index.  Grant funding comes from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, which is the granting arm of the National Archives.

Applications are required and must be received by April 5. We require each grant applicant to have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number before submitting an application. The grant guidelines and application are available at online. For further information, contact Janell Tuttle at jtuttle@utah.gov.

Spread the Sunshine!

Sunshine WeekIt’s Sunshine Week, also known as the week- long, nationwide celebration of access to public government information via Sunshine Laws.

Sunshine laws are those laws that secure government transparency. These laws are fundamental to self government. They provide empowerment to our people, accountability to our government employees, and build the public trust. Utah has two key laws to provide transparency:

These laws highlight the legal balancing act between public access and accountability, and a citizen’s right to privacy and public safety. The overall intent is to ensure the public’s access to their government.

Every action of government is your business.
Every document held in government halls is your piece of paper.
Every penny spent by government is your money.
From the courthouse to the statehouse to the White House, government belongs to the governed and not the governing.
You have the right to know what the governing are up to, always.
We are self-governed.
(“It’s Your Right, It’s Your Business” by Jim Zachary, CNHI Regional Editor and Editor, The Valdosta Daily Times)

Here at the Utah State Archives, this can mean a few different things. Our Records Analyst team works with records officers to help with records management and create retention schedules. Our GRAMA Ombudsman, Rosemary Cundiff, assists records officers when they need to respond to a public records request or appeal. She also mediates appeal disputes when necessary. Our Records Processing staff works to preserve and adequately describe records to improve future access. Finally, our Research Center works with the public to provide appropriate access to historical government records in our custody.

TSunshine Week icon transparenthis week we will be posting in tandem with our Records Analyst team (RecordsKeepers.blog) to highlight the ways we work to “Let the Light In” here at the Utah State Archives.

Stay Tuned!

 

Regional Repository Statewide Forum

regional-repository-promo (2017)Currently there are eleven officially recognized regional repositories throughout the state.  The regional repositories are authorized to collect, process, preserve and make available historical records for research and study by the public.  The State Archives can provide copies of government records to these Regional Repositories so people don’t have to travel to Salt Lake City to see government records for their region. Working together with institutions throughout the state, the Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board is committed to preserving Utah’s historical records for future generations.

On March 30, 2017 representatives of these repositories will be meeting at the Utah State Archives to learn, exchange ideas, and plan for the future of the program as this is the 10th anniversary for this meeting.  The USHRAB Consortium is also invited to this meeting.

Records Retrieval Maintenance March 1-2, 2017

asrs-boxes_1200x800Visitors to the Research Center on March 1-2, 2017 will not be able to retrieve records from the collection due to scheduled maintenance. Please plan on visiting either before or after to access records that are not in the Research Center itself. For questions, you may call (801) 245-7227.

Japanese Internment in Utah

AFTERSHOCKS OF PEARL HARBOR When Japanese forces attacked the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941, a chain of events was set in motion that would permanently alter the directions of each country and its citizenry. Pearl Harbor led to direct U.S. involvement in World War II, drawing millions of U.S. […]