Monthly Archives: October 2020

Working From Home With the Wyoming State Archives-Project Spotlights: State Imaging Center

By: Jessica Cosgrove

In celebration of Electronic Records Day, here is a glimpse behind the scenes at some of the work that State Archives’ Imaging Center staff do to make archival records accessible to you.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the world has readjusted to a new normal while social distancing. The Wyoming State Archive staff was facing the task of working from home while most of our resources were at the office. To work from home successfully, many of our team needed to learn new skills. We rose to the challenge of working from home by doing projects that will provide better ease of access to our records for the general public, researchers, and State Agencies.

One such project is putting our paper finding aids up online so people can see more of what we have to offer in the State Archives. Before we had the benefit of posting finding aids online, people needed to come into the State Archives to view the collection finding aid. What is a finding aid you ask? Well, it gives a researcher a brief overview of the history of the collection as well as provides folder lists of what is found in the collection. A finding aid is essentially an index to the collection. 

The following link is an example of one of the Wyoming State Archive finding aids online now:  As you can see, it describes the papers of Frances “Franky” McQuigg Stewart.  She happens to be the niece of Esther Hobart Morris, who played a pivotal role in the history or women’s suffrage in Wyoming.  Morris’ letters to her niece are very helpful in understanding how women began participating in electoral politics here, and they’re actually linked right to the finding aid, too!

Esther Hobart Morris was the first woman in the nation to serve as Justice of the Peace. She served in South Pass City, Wyoming in 1870.

XML coding is the tool we use to transform our paper finding aids into documents a computer can read. The computer reads the language and then portrays the finding aid in a way that humans can read it. The process isn’t as simple as copying and pasting a paper finding aid to the internet.

Here’s an example of XML or what the computer sees and reads:

The computer turns the above XML language into this.

State Imaging Center scanning staff focused on this project. The SIC staff complete scanning projects for State Agency personnel who need their paper records digitized. Before going home the SIC staff were busy learning XML (Extensible Markup Language). XML coding was a new skill most of the SIC staff needed to learn before the mid-March work from home order. Suzi Taylor, our Photo Archivist and resident XML expert, and Cindy Brown, our Digital Archivist, taught the SIC staff coding in just five two hour learning sessions.

SIC staffer Erica Bennett said, “I’ve enjoyed encoding finding aids in XML to make them accessible online. I like the challenge of learning a new skill and being able to see the results of my work.” Learning coding can be challenging at first, but Bennett learned it well and became the best XML coder of the SIC group. She said, “Working on this project has helped me realize I can learn anything if I set my mind to it.”


As of the date of this publication, the SIC has:

  • Encoded 298 finding aids
  • Published 77 new finding aids to Rocky Mountain Online Archives (the database where our online finding aids are). Go to to explore the Wyoming State Archive online finding aids.

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5 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About the State Archives

October 8, 2020

Contact: Kathy Marquis, 307-777-8691


            In celebration of American Archives Month, archival entities throughout the country highlight the importance of records and historical documents. While most people have heard of state archives, many are not aware of what they do.

In celebration of American Archives Month, we present you with “5 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About the Wyoming State Archives!”

  1. You can access the Wyoming State Archives from Home.

Many of the State Archives digital resources are available online. Things like historical photographs, newspapers, maps, oral history interviews, and the Wyoming Blue Books, a one-stop shop for information on the history of Wyoming government, and a variety of other information. Just go to and start browsing!

2.      What do you want to know about your Wyoming?  You can research your family, town, school and lots more! Got a question about Wyoming history? We probably have an answer.

The Wyoming State Archives is THE resource for Wyoming information and history. Information on historical events, the famous and infamous, community history,  is available. Plus, reference archivists are available to help you with your informational search. The Archives is an invaluable tool for student research.   With decades of combined experience using the materials, if they don’t have an answer to your question, they usually know where to look for it. There’s a reason why many authors visit the archives to research information for their books and articles.

3.      The Archives has a database of historic Wyoming Photographic collections. 

The Wyoming State Archives houses the photographic collections of J.E. Stimson, Frank Meyers, Thomas Carrigen, Miller-Meyers and Fendley. These historical photos are available for framing, use in books, etc for a small fee.  Start looking now at and you’ll be lost in history before you know it.  And, you can come in to see our 250,000 photo collection any time, too!

4.                  Archives are digital, too.

This year the State Archives added the 1,000,000th file to our Digital Archives. You spend your work days on your computer, and so do state employees.  The State Archives has a secure way to save and manage all those digital files, so the state’s history will be preserved, no matter what format the records are in.  

5.                  You can be a part of history.

The Wyoming State Archives, along with the Wyoming State Museum and American Heritage Center in Laramie, is documenting the COVID-19 pandemic and requests public submissions. Items like diaries, written accounts, videos, vlogs, pictures, and other documents will provide researchers in the future a better picture of life during the current pandemic. Collecting these items now will ensure that the memories survive. The more stories that are added, the more complete a picture scholars of the future will see. We welcome submissions from any and all viewpoints, and communities large and small. 

6.                  BONUS – The Archives is a darn interesting place to visit.

Whether you are researching Butch Cassidy, the Tea Pot Dome, Matthew Shepard or the many and various other stories and people associated with the Cowboy State you will find a variety of resources and information about the topic.

American Archives Month is a collaborative effort by professional organizations and repositories around the nation to highlight the important of records of enduring value. Archivists are professionals who assess, collect, organize, preserve, maintain control of, and provide access to information that has lasting value, and they help people find and understand the information they need in those records.

The State Archives is located in the Barrett Building first floor, 2301 Central Ave,

Cheyenne WY 82002.  For further information, contact Kathy Marquis, State Archivist at 307-777-8691 or message her at

The Wyoming State Archives is accessible according to the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. If you require special assistance, please contact the Wyoming State Archives at 307-777-7826.

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