18 September 2012

My Letter to Gov. Deal about the Closing of the Georgia Archives

I'm interrupting this blog, normally dominated by tombstones, to highlight history in general. For those of you that don't know, budget proposals in the state of Georgia have forced Secretary of State Brian Kemp to close the archives to the public, effective November 1st. Appointments will be allowed, but based only on available staff. In other words, at no time can you simply walk into the archives and access public records. And since the staffing will be curtailed to nothing, good luck on getting that appointment.

Oh! And, by the way, Georgia's Virtual Vault has been acting up a lot lately. Coincidence? Maybe not. So this might even hurt online Georgia research.

Here is the letter I submitted to Governor Nathan Deal. If you are interested in sending your thoughts, information on how to do that follows.
Re: Closing of the State Archives

I think effectively closing the Georgia Archives to the public is a grave mistake. The ability for the public to physically see how exactly their government is functioning is a basic right in a democracy. A right that you are trying to take away.

The archives are used by other governments as well to, for a simple example, settle disputes. Disputes between counties, disputes between states, and the like. That is a direct function of the government that you are attempting to make very difficult. How can that possibly enhance how our state is being run? How our state appears to the rest of the country?

From a more personal standpoint -- I want to have access to the history. I want to be able to peruse public records of the past, for educational purposes as well as genealogical research.

Your lineage and familial connection to this state has been well documented, especially here in the mid-state. I imagine your roots are very important to you. How would you feel if those tangible ties to the past were unknown, or inaccessible to you? That is what you are trying to hinder for other people -- something I dare say you have no right to do.

Finally, how can you feel taking money away from the communities surrounding the archives is a good thing? That is exactly what you are proposing by cutting the budget of the Archives to such a degree that it can no longer be easily accessible to the public.

I have plans to visit the archives at the end of this month. Hotel reservations have been made, gas will be bought along the way, and dining out will occur. Other places of business will be visited, and general tourism will happen. All of this will bring more revenue to all locations and businesses involved. By me. One person.

These trips to the archives are already stifled due to it only being open a couple of days a week. For me personally, this is due to how that coincides with my work schedule, and I'm sure others are likely feeling that same pain. Imagine how much revenue could be generated if they were open to the public on an even larger scale.

Thank-you for hearing me. I know I'm not alone in this opinion, so thank you for hearing US.

Stephanie Lincecum
So! What does this have to do with cemeteries? Well, if archives can be closed to the public, why not "public" cemeteries? How would we know if our loved ones' final resting places were truly being taken care of? By appointment? It might sound silly, but I assure you it's not. And while even I don't think that is going to happen en masse anytime soon, this is a slippery slope I do not want to start down.

Would you like to see the Georgia Archives stay open? Please sign this petition.

On facebook? Check out the Georgians Against Closing State Archives.

If you would like to send your thoughts to Gov. Deal, you may use his online contact form.


Lewis Powell IV said...

A very nice letter! It's a sad day when we see archives and libraries closed due to "budget cuts." I worked in an archives for a number of years and I also worry about the collections themselves. If the staff is cut back, who will be caring for the collections? How will collections be processed?

Anonymous said...

Do you people have a facebook fan page? I searched for one on facebook or twitter but could not discover one, I'd really like to become a fan!

Stephanie Lincecum said...

There is a link in the post to the facebook group -- Georgians Against Closing the State Archives.

Anonymous said...

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