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July 20, 2011 / Council of State Archivists

2011 NAGARA/CoSA Annual Meeting Update 4

[continued from previous post] 

Friday afternoon was kick-started with a delicious lunch and keynote address. The keynote speaker was Robert Hicks, author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country. Robert’s speech was complete with voices and sound effects as he told us stories from just a few of his life experiences. 

Immediately after lunch, before the next round of sessions, there was another plenary titled “Will you still need me…Will you still feed me…in 2064?” Unfortunately I was unable to attend so I cannot provide a summary, but if you were there, please share a summary with us, via the comment box at the end of the post. 

After the plenary there was another round of educational sessions. 

In “The Way We Were: The 1940 Census,” we learned what kinds of questions were asked in addition to the standard name, age, profession type of questions. But it was really interesting to hear a few of the questions that were NOT asked. The following questions almost made the cut, but in the end they were left off the census: 

Are you over six feet tall?

Do you own a waffle iron and a bible?

If you are not married, why not? 

We’ll probably never know why someone wanted to ask those questions, but it would have been fun to read the answers! The 1940s census will provide researchers with a lot of information because it reflects the great depression, the crash of Wall Street, and crop production (or lack thereof). 

“The Sound of Silence: Why Are Permanent E-Records Not Accessioned by State and Local Archives.” This session took a look at some of the reasons that electronic records aren’t getting to state archives: staffing levels and skills; time; funding; lack of standards; political machinations, and administrative constraints. Pari Swift (OH Attorney General’s Office) introduced the session and moderated the discussion. Jillian Carney (OH), Gayla Koerting (NE), and Jan Davis (OK) described their own ups and downs in trying to address electronic records in their states which served as illustrative case studies of the various barriers. A lively discussion based around questions posed by Pari provided additional insights about reluctance of agencies to cede control including loss of revenue streams and concerns about access. 

Friday evening then ended with a nice reception at the Sheraton hotel. 

As always, we encourage those of you who attended the meeting/conference to add comments below about the sessions you attended or just your general thoughts about the week. And if you were not in attendance, you can still leave comments, we want to hear from everyone!

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