Category Archives: Archives Month 2016

It’s Electronic Records Day: 10.10.16

Do you create documents on your computer?  Your tablet?  Do you write texts and posts on your cell phone?  Then you are creating electronic records.  Think of all the files you create in a week or a year.  Then, imagine how many such documents are created by Wyoming state employees in the same amount of time…  Where are they all kept?  How do we know that we will be able to read and have access to them in the future?  These are the knotty problems that your State Archives staff wrestle with every day.

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We are participating in Electronic Records Day 10.10.16 this year by telling you about how we are solving those problems via the Wyoming Digital Archives, our system for preserving digital files created in the conduct of state business.

Why do electronic records need special attention?

Consider this tongue in cheek answer from the Council of State Archivists, “Managing electronic records is like caring for a perpetual toddler: they need regular attention and care…”

On a more serious note, they add,

With the increasing reliance on information technology, the challenge to manage, preserve, and provide access to digital records and information continues to grow. Action must to taken to ensure future access to electronic records.

Paper records stored in good conditions can be read centuries afterwards. Typical electronic file formats have a life span measured in decades at best.

Rapidly changing software and hardware environments can leave electronic records virtually inaccessible after just a few years if not monitored.

Electronic records require proactive management. The best time to plan for electronic records preservation is at the time records are created, rather than when software is being replaced or a project is ending.

State Archivist, Mike Strom, says he is most happy that the Wyoming Digital Archives shows how the state of Wyoming is involved in e-records in a substantial way.   He says it is good to work with agencies to manage records so that they’re kept the right amount of time, according to our records retention schedules.

The State Archives is already working with fourteen state agencies that are entering their records into the Digital Archives – which contains over 300,000 individual records so far.

Strom’s goals for the future include seeing that all state agencies are engaged in some way with this project.  A broader goal is ensuring the long-term preservation and accessibility of all of the state’s records regardless of their format.

Can the public see these records, too?  Yes, the Digital Archives has a public access feature so that records which you might be able to see by contacting a state agency (like incorporation or other state reports) will be accessible through a portal on the State Archives’ web page or by a link to that portal from the state agency’s website.

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The State Archives operates a Records Center which has rows and rows of boxes, shelved fourteen levels high and served by staff with forklifts.  The Wyoming Digital Archives will soon house the same amount of records, but we won’t need a forklift to find the right box or file.  We will use online searching to find the information that agencies need to conduct their business – and that you, the public, need to find a court file or school transcript, write a research paper, or dig into your family history.

Still wondering what to do with your own personal digital files?  Here are some great tips from COSA. We also hope you join the staff of the State Archives this Thursday, October 13th as we present  recommendations on how best to store and preserve all types of family records, including electronic records.

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October is Archives Month!

Welcome to Archives Month!

October is Archives Month, the time when archival institutions around the country make a special effort to promote the important work archives do in preserving and providing access to America’s documentary heritage. We take particular pride in the fact that the Wyoming State Archives has one of the best collections of Wyoming history anywhere. Our holdings include the State Constitution, the Suffrage Act, thousands of photos, hundreds of maps, governors’ records, and tens of thousands of feet of records that document all levels of government throughout the state. And those are just a few of the highlights.

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It would be a mistake, however, to focus solely on the historical research aspect of the material in our care. One of the things that makes working in a state archives so rewarding is the opportunity to help people resolve issues that come up in their daily lives. We processed nearly 4,200 research requests from the public last year and thirty-two percent of them involved school records. Year after year, school transcripts are our most-used records. People request them when they are going back to school or are applying for a job and need verification that they have graduated from high school. Other records in our collections have similar immediate uses. People use court records to document land ownership and mineral rights, to complete background checks, and to file for pensions and social security.  People often use marriage and divorce decrees when renewing driver’s licenses and applying for social security.  In these cases and others, the State Archives has the information citizens need to complete fundamental tasks.

My favorite example of the importance of the records in the archives occurred several years ago, soon after I arrived in Cheyenne. A woman in her seventies was attempting to locate her brother and sister with whom she had not had contact during her lifetime due to adoption. State Archives staff members found records in the District Court adoption files and school censuses that made it possible for a confidential intermediary to reunite her with her brother and sister.

Archives Month is all about telling those kinds of stories and promoting what we have and how to use it. Below is a list of the activities the State Archives staff will be participating in or organizing themselves this month.  I hope you will check in with all of our social media outlets throughout October for more information.

 

Mike Strom

Wyoming State Archivist


Calendar of 2016 Archives Month activities at the Wyoming State Archives

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Ask an Archivist Day – October 5, social media

On October 5, archivists around the country will take to Twitter using #AskAnArchivist to answer your questions about any and all things archives. 

electronic records logo_2015Electronic Records Day – October 10, social media

Sponsored by the Council of State Archivists, the purpose of Electronic Records Day is to raise community awareness of our digital records and of the need to manage and preserve them.

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Preserving is Not Just for Vegetables: Caring for Your Family Records – 7pm, October 13, Wyoming State Museum Multi-purpose Room

Staff archivists will review recommended methods for handling and storage of your treasures, and offer advice on digitizing your collections. How-to handouts will be available. This event is a part of the Wyoming State Museum fall lecture series.

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Finding Your Wyoming Roots in the Archives – 9am to noon, October 29, Wyoming State Archives reading room

State Archives staff will present a three-hour workshop on “Finding Your Wyoming Roots in the Archives.” Staff members will guide you through the search for your family in vital records, city directories, and school records.  Following the presentations, attendees will be invited to stay for an hour and begin their research in the Archives. This workshop is free but registration is requested as space is limited. 

For more information or to register for the workshop, call us at 307-777-7826 or email us.

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