The AHA Weighs In on the Georgia State Archives Closure

A few days ago we reported on the upcoming closure of the Georgia State Archives.  I am happy to say the American Historical Association and historians around the country are mobilizing to preserve full access to the archives for scholars and the general public.

See James Cobb’s piece at Maureen Downey’s blog and AHA executive director Jim Grossman’s letter to Georgia governor Nathan Deal.

I have printed Grossman’s letter below:

Dear Governor Deal:

I write on behalf of the American Historical Association—the leading organization of historians in the United States—to express our grave concern about plans to effectively close the Georgia Archives.

An early and active proponent of state archives laws in the United States, the AHA remains committed to the preservation of our heritage, and to its accessibility. We understand that a shortage of financial resources has forced the state to make some difficult financial choices, and that in such situations, everyone claims that their particular activity is sacrosanct. The Georgia Archives, however, tells the story of all Georgians. Genealogists, students, historians, journalists: all require access to these vital records to participate in the preservation of the state’s heritage and the practical use of its past.

Beyond the interests of historical researchers stand a wide variety of civic-minded Georgians who depend on open access to archives. Teachers, lawyers, real estate developers, leaders of neighborhood associations—all rely not only on the vital records housed in the Georgia Archives, but on the expert advice of its archivists.

The records of any government represent the heritage of its people, and can serve that role only when its citizens have access to consult those records. Closing the doors to the Archives would represent a devastating blow not only to historians, genealogists, and others with an interest in the past, but also the state’s policymakers and leaders who need a solid understanding of the past to help shape Georgia’s future. 

I urge you to reconsider this decision, and to work with the Secretary of State to allocate resources that will enable this vital service to remain open and accessible to all.

Best regards,
James R. Grossman
Executive Director