10 Amazing Facts about the Utah State Archives—Gina Strack and Rae Gifford at RootsTech 2019

September 11, 2019  - by 

Want to learn more about all the amazing things the Utah State Archives and Records Service can offer you? Rae Gifford and Gina Strack shared some interesting features about the archives at the Access and Preservation Day at RootsTech 2019.

Their presentation was titled, “Utah State Archives and Records Service: 10 New or Amazing Things!” At the time of the presentation, Gifford was the outreach and advocacy archivist at the state archives and Strack is the digital archives program manager at the Utah State Archives and Records Service.

1. GRAMA

The Utah State Archives has developed an open records portal to assist the public in submitting Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) requests. The portal brings together into one place the ability to request records from Utah government entities at all levels.

Screenshot of the OpenRecords portal on the Utah State Archives website

2. Training Classes

“Genealogists really want to access our records,” Gifford said. The Utah State Archives provides training classes for finding your family in records.

The classes from October’s “Pirates of the Pedigree” virtual event at the archives are available for free viewing. The archives held a family history workshop in July 2018 and again in 2019. Videos, slides, and handouts are also available for anyone to view.

3. Upgrading the Profession

The Utah State Archives have a dedicated section working toward best practices with records keepers and creators in government.

“We hired a chief records officer,” Gifford said. “We go out to city and county officials and train them.” With electronic records, you must get in and train people early on what they need to save and how to do it.

4. Storage Expansion

The expansion of the vault was a big undertaking by the archives this last year. In 2004, the Utah State Archives built a new building just south of the historic Rio Grande Depot. They share a reading room with the Utah State Historical Society in the depot. Two years ago, they upgraded the archives building with additional storage. The next big step will be receiving electronic records for digital preservation.

5. Digital Color Camera

The archives have acquired digital color cameras and are ready to start high-volume, full-color, digitization.

6. Growth of Online Access.

The archives have done a lot with very little dedicated funding, including publishing 1.4 million online records since 2006. All these records can be accessed online for free.

7. Partnerships

The Utah State Archives have partnered with FamilySearch and with Ancestry.com. “Our growth would not be where it is at without partnerships,” Strack said.

Local organizations have also partnered to help the archives. The Marriott Library at the University of Utah assisted with equipment and conservation. Ogden City is working with the archives to preserve and provide access to their historical records. Through these partnerships, the archives are digitizing various kinds of records such as civil case files, probate records, and birth and death certificates.

8. World War I Records Online

The archives recognized the World War I anniversary by digitizing entire collections, including full-color questionnaires submitted by veterans after the war. Learn more about these collections.

World War 1 soldiers in a row boat on the shore.

9. Local Government Marriage Records

The archives have some marriage records created by local governments. Records from Utah County are in the archives for storage and preservation and are in the process of being digitized. Once the records are digitized, these marriage records will be published online for free access.

10. Preservation First Steps

One of the preservation formats the archives have used is M-Discs for digitized historical records. These discs are engraved rather than written with other means. This makes them last much longer than conventional DVD storage.

Some next steps for the archives is collaboration with record managers for electronic format records and then preservation.

To check out the Utah State Archives and Records Services, visit archives.utah.gov.

Rae Gifford was the outreach and advocacy archivist for the Utah State Archives at the time of her presentation. She has a Masters of Arts in history and a Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from Louisiana State University.

Gina Strack is a certified archivist and has been at the Utah State Archives and Records Service since 2002. She is the digital archives program managers and processes historical records from state and local agencies. She holds a certificate as a Digital Archives Specialist and an MLIS from the University of Washington.

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