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House OKs state archives transfer

Archivists, genealoigists and researchers will be able to continue to enjoy walk-in access to the Georgia Archives in Morrow if legislation to put the archives in the state’s university system is passed into law. The state House of Representatives has passed the bill and it is awaiting consideration in the Senate.

Archivists, genealoigists and researchers will be able to continue to enjoy walk-in access to the Georgia Archives in Morrow if legislation to put the archives in the state’s university system is passed into law. The state House of Representatives has passed the bill and it is awaiting consideration in the Senate.

— The Georgia Archives likely won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

State Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) told his colleagues in the House of Representatives Tuesday the Georgia Archives would stay in Morrow for the foreseeable future if they voted to transfer it from the Secretary of State’s office to the University System of Georgia.

Hatchett, a House floor leader for Gov. Nathan Deal, beseeched his fellow representatives to vote in favor of the move.

“In these tough economic times with steep budgetary constraints, the Secretary of State, the chancellor [of the university system] and the governor reached an agreement that this is a good move for the division of archives and history,” said Hatchett from the well of the House floor.

In the end, it didn’t take much arm twisting to get the move approved. The House unanimously passed legislation to authorize the transfer. The bill, known as House Bill 287, now goes to the Senate for approval.

However, Hatchett’s address to colleagues on the legislation carried more significance than a simple request to pass legislation. It revealed the role Clayton State University will play in the archives’ future operations.

The university will be a major player in the keeping of Georgia’s history even though the archives will be placed directly under the university’s control.

“Plans are to remain open to the public for the same number of hours as presently done and hopes are to extend hours through the use of students in Work Study programs and others at Clayton State University,” Hatchett told the full House chamber.

Archivist Kaye Minchew said she was relieved to see the House pass the legislation after nearly a week of postponements that had her and other Georgia Archives supporters worried. The transfer likely would have been delayed by a year if the bill didn’t pass in the House by “Crossover Day” Thursday.

Minchew is a member of the Friends of the Georgia Archives Board of Directors, co-chairwoman of the Coalition to Preserve the Georgia Archives and executive director of the Troup County Archives and Legacy Museum.

“We’re still watching it,” Minchew said. “We were relieved to get it voted on in the House and now we’re anxious to get it passed in the Senate.”

While Clayton State students are expected to be brought in to open the archives more often to the public, Minchew said supporters are going to continue pushing for additional funding. She said supervisors beyond those expected to be included in the facility’s 10-person staff will be needed to supervise volunteers and college students.

“Volunteers and college students will help, but you’ve still got to have professional archivists who know what they’re doing to supervise them,” Minchew said.