Category: News

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. […]

Ogden Police Department Arrest and Jail Record Books Online

 

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The Utah State Archives is pleased to announce that an assortment of arrest and jail record books from the Ogden Police Department have been digitized and are now available online for public access. These record books, dating from 1902 to 1941, document arrests made, and prisoners held, by the Ogden City Police Department. Arrest Record Books and Record of Prisoners Books include: name of person arrested, name of arresting officer, time and place of arrest, charge, and fine or punishment given. The Criminal Record Books and Prisoner Identification Records document individuals held by the police department and may include a prisoner number, mug shot, and the prisoner’s physical description. The two Criminal Record Books available were maintained by two different sections of the police department and contain nearly identical information and photos for the time period they both cover.

RootsTech 2017

Utah State Archives booth at RootsTech 2017
Utah State Archives booth at RootsTech 2017

The RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City was a great experience for the Utah State Archives. It was wonderful to to meet so many old and new friends.

New Look for Website

If you notice anything different about archives.utah.gov, that’s because there’s a fresh new look. This design is made for all kinds of devices from mobile to widescreen.

Can’t find something or see an error? Let us know!

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