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Georgia State Archives CLOSED to Public: Is This the First Domino?

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ATLANTA, GA -- Official statement from the state: "The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget has instructed the Office of the Secretary of State to further reduce its budget for AFY13 and FY14 by 3% ($732,626). As it has been for the past two years, these cuts do not eliminate excess in the agency, but require the agency to further reduce services to the citizens of Georgia. As an agency that returns over three times what is appropriated back to the general fund, budget cuts present very challenging decisions. We have tried to protect the services that the agency provides in support of putting people to work, starting small businesses, and providing public safety. To meet the required cuts, it is with great remorse that I have to announce, effective November 1, 2012, the Georgia State Archives located in Morrow, GA will be closed to the public. The decision to reduce public access to the historical records of this state was not arrived at without great consternation. To my knowledge, Georgia will be the only state in the country that will not have a central location in which the public can visit to research and review the historical records of their government and state. The staff that currently works to catalog, restore, and provide reference to the state of Georgia’s permanent historical records will be reduced. The employees that will be let go through this process are assets to the state of Georgia and will be missed. After November 1st, the public will only be allowed to access the building by appointment; however, the number of appointments could be limited based on the schedule of the remaining employees. Since FY08, the Office of the Secretary of State has been required to absorb many budget reductions, often above the minimum, while being responsible for more work. I believe that transparency and open access to records are necessary for the public to educate themselves on the issues of our government. I will fight during this legislative session to have this cut restored so the people will have a place to meet, research, and review the historical records of Georgia."

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Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt is a Board-certified genealogist specializing in Massachusetts research. She has been taking clients for sixteen years and researches a variety of topics from Mayflower lineages to locating townlands of Irish immigrants. She is a case worker under contract to the US Army on repatriation cases, helping to locate family members of servicemen missing or killed in previous conflicts. She currently serves as a director at Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and editor of the FGS Voice Newsletter, and is past president of MGC. You can read her personal blog at http://pk-pollybog.blogspot.com.

Comments

  • Guest
    Robert J. Bartlett Monday, 17 September 2012

    As a member of the MGC, this move to close the Georgia State Archives is noted with sadness. Open records that are accessible to the public are a necessary corollary to transparency in government and consequently to the integrity of any true democracy.

  • Guest
    Skip Murray Saturday, 15 September 2012

    It looks the folks in Georgia are doing a great job of rallying the troops to fight this! They've started a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GeorgiansAgainstClosingStateArchives and in the first couple of days are already over 1800 likes! The also have an online petition http://chn.ge/Omcycy where they hope to get over 10,000 signatures to hand deliver to the governor. They are over 6700 signatures in 48 hours with signers from around the world.

  • Guest
    Michael Hait Thursday, 13 September 2012

    I can only hope that genealogists and other citizens of Georgia make their voices heard before 1 November---and before Election Day!

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