Campus has been buzzing this week with the news of one of the biggest tragedies our state has seen in the recent economic crisis. Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, released a statement to the press declaring that beginning Nov. 1, the Georgia State Archives would no longer be open to the public. To access them, one would need to make an appointment with the archives department and visit the facility in Morrow, Ga., in person.
You might think this doesn’t have anything to do with you–but think again. History and political science majors use the state archives for quite a bit of their schooling, and they aren’t the only ones to do so. Law students have to know not only the current laws in their state of jurisdiction, but past laws and past political action as well. How effective can a lawyer be if he or she cannot obtain the historical records necessary to make their case? Should they make an appointment, this unnecessary link in the chain would slow down the state judicial system immensely. Journalism students use the state records to view and learn from past Georgia publications. The archives hold the state’s maps and land diagrams, plus the definitive record of state, county and city boundaries. If you live in the state of Georgia, these records should be important to you.
The state archive website offers digital copies of most archive records accessible from anywhere with Internet access. The physical building houses manuscripts and microfilm containing precious historical information. Most important, the state archives are the home of Georgia’s disaster preparedness recommendations. It tells you what to do in case of a flood, hurricane evacuation or other natural disasters. If your family records or valuable media are not housed in the archives, then that’s where you find tips on how to take care of your fragile documents on your own. Is this the kind of information we want restricted–only viewable by the elite?
This is our state. If we live here, we deserve access to the information that tells us who we are. Without that information, we might as well consider ourselves orphans. If this were to pass, Georgia would be the only state in the entire country to restrict access to state archives.
Students, stand up for your history! Don’t let the state decide whether you have the ability to know who you are or where you come from. We are all Georgia residents, and we should be proud of it. We give this state our work, our tax money and our love. It’s only fair that the state respond fairly and give us our history.
Fortunately, Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that the archives would not be closed, due to the massive response from those in Georgia passionate about keeping their history. This time it was just a warning, but next time, we need to be ready. Keep tabs on what is happening in your state government and don’t let them take away the history that is yours.