State & Local
Records News
Vol. 7, No. 3 Published by the ADAH Government Records Division February 2003

Franklin County Establishes Archives

    Franklin County will soon be the site of Alabama’s newest local government archives. On December 9, the county commission “officially established the Franklin County Archives and Research Center” as an agency of county government. Its mission “will be to acquire, restore, preserve, duplicate, and store county records prior to 1951 and other historical and genealogical records.”

    As reported in the Franklin County Times (December 20, 2002), newly-appointed archivist Chris Ozbirn has been a moving force behind the archives. Ms. Ozbirn, who has been in charge of the Russellville Public Library’s genealogy room since 1988, had visited archives in nearby Lawrence and Limestone Counties and “felt it would be great” if Franklin County had its own facility. At the suggestion of Probate Judge Mike Green, she circulated a petition to the county commission that acquired 486 signatures within two weeks.

Future Site of the Franklin County Archives


   The commission responded by designating the Franklin County Public Health Building as the new archives’ location. Its renovation will begin as soon as the health department moves to other quarters in the spring. On January 21, ADAH archivists Linda Overman and Tom Turley inspected the building and made recommendations for converting it into an archives. With assistance from U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, and State Senator Roger Bedford, county officials will pursue grants to carry out the renovation and purchase a computer, copier, and microfilm reader-printer, along with shelving and other archival supplies. Local genealogists will compose the archives’ staff.

Local Archives Roundtable to
Meet at ADAH

    The local archives roundtable’s next meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 26, in the Milo B. Howard Auditorium at ADAH, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Composed of local archivists from over a dozen Alabama counties and municipalities, the roundtable has met periodically since 1997 to discuss common archival issues and problems, and to encourage the development of local archives.

    Local officials, historians, or genealogists who are interested in starting an archival program are also welcome to attend. For more information,

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contact the ADAH Government Records Division at (334)242-4452, or

NEH Offers Grants for Records

    May 15, 2003, is the deadline for the next round of Preservation Assistance Grants offered by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Two years ago, the Lowndes County Commission and the Montgomery County Historical Society received such grants for records preservation work.

    Many types of preservation projects can be funded by these grants, which offer a maximum award of $5,000. Most agencies of state and local government–as well as libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies–meet NEH eligibility guidelines. Among the kinds of eligible projects are:

  • assessments of the status of collections
  • visits from preservation consultants
  • purchases of archival shelving or supplies
  • purchases of environmental monitoring equipment
  • training for staff in preserving collections.

    For more information about these grants, see the NEH website at ADAH archivists can conduct needs assessments for preservation grants and review draft applications.

ADAH Acquires Records of
Departing Constitutional

    After the November election, ADAH Director Dr. Ed Bridges sent letters to all outgoing constitutional officers to encourage the transfer of their permanent records to the Archives. Chris Davidson, Chris Fly, Coryell German, Becky Lapczynski-Hébert, Roger Manning, Kerry Pond, and Richard Wang

  delivered supplies, conducted records transmittal training sessions, and carried out the transfer of these records, which totaled almost 650 cubic feet.

    From Governor Don Siegelman, ADAH received administrative files from his tenures as secretary of state, attorney general, and governor. Among other types of records received from the governor’s office were appointment files, constituent files, legislative bills/resolutions registers, proclamations, vetoed bills and resolutions, press releases, speeches, election disclosures, governor’s transition files, news clippings, videotapes, and the governor’s website.

    Also of note were 42 cubic feet of records received from former Lieutenant Governor Steve Windom, including department/agency files, legislation files, personnel and administration files, contract review binders, and news clippings. ADAH also accessioned records from the secretary of state, state treasurer, finance director, and commissioner of insurance. The transfer of these records ensures that the accomplishments of Governor Siegelman’s administration will be documented and the material preserved for history.

Records Commission Approves
State Agency RDAs

    At its meeting on January 23, 2003, the State Records Commission approved several new records disposition authorities (RDAs):

  • Cahaba Advisory Committee
  • Indian Affairs Commission
  • Department of Industrial Relations
  • Public-Supported Universities

    The commission also approved the disposition of records created by the defunct Foreign Trade and Relations Commission.

    Because most of its members had other obligations and were unable to attend, the Local Government Records Commission canceled its January meeting.

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   The two commissions will meet again on Friday, April 18, 2003. The State Records Commission will meet at 10 a.m., and the Local Government Records Commission at 1:30 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Milo B. Howard Auditorium at ADAH.

RDA for Public Universities Completed

    On January 23, the State Records Commission approved a new records disposition authority (RDA) for public universities, the result of a three-year project headed by archivist Chris Davidson. Representatives from 12 public universities (Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Auburn, AUM, Jacksonville State, Troy State, the University of Alabama, UAB, UAH, UNA, USA, and UWA) assisted in developing the RDA. It replaces general records schedules that were approved for public universities in 1993.

    The new RDA includes records that were not previously scheduled, as well as changes in previous records retention requirements. Records for university hospitals and medical/veterinary clinics will be added in the future.

    The Government Records Division would like to thank the university representatives who assisted on this project. The new RDA will soon be available on the ADAH website. Meanwhile, for more information, contact Chris Davidson at (334)242-4306 or

Secretary of State to Serve on Records Commissions

    Alabama’s new Secretary of State, Nancy Worley, has decided to serve personally on the State and Local Government Records Commissions during her first year in office. She has replaced Rebecca Morris, who was appointed by former Secretary of State Jim Bennett.


     Although agencies represented on the two commissions are prescribed by statute (Code of Alabama 1975, Sections 41-13-20 and -22), constitutional officers may designate a proxy, while local officials serving on the Local Government Records Commission serve at the governor’s pleasure.

    With the turnover in Alabama’s constitutional offices under our new administration, other changes in State and Local Government Records Commission membership may take place as well. Such changes, if any, will be noted in future issues of State and Local Records News.

Ask the Archivist

    Q uestion: We wish to place material in a time capsule to be opened at a future date. What should we do to ensure the material’s survival?

    The best method of ensuring the preservation and future usability of the material is to place the originals in the local public library and place copies in the time capsule or cornerstone. Then, if the copies have gotten wet or have otherwise deteriorated when the capsule is opened, the originals will still be available for display.

    There are several primary concerns when preparing a time capsule or container to place in a cornerstone:

    Consider the expected life span of the material you wish to preserve. Some paper documents (for example, newspapers and programs) are highly acidic and will become brittle over time. Colored photographs will fade. Coins will corrode if they get wet. Equipment for playing current electronic media, such as tapes or CDs, may not be available to future generations.

    If you include original paper, use a spray deacidification solution to neutralize the paper’s acidity. This product is available from suppliers of archival materials. (See: www.universityproducts. com or If using facsimiles in the time capsule or cornerstone, copy the documents on acid-free, bond paper. Include only black-and-white, not color, photographs. Place

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coins in sealed, inert plastic bags. Encasing individual items in inert, see-through bags is desirable to provide additional protection.

    Use a container that will not cause harm to the materials stored in it. Some plastics, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), break down and give off harmful vapors. Include humidity buffers, such as silica gel, in the container. Use a strong, waterproof enclosure that can be sealed tightly to keep out air and water. Canisters can be made of copper, alu-minum, stainless steel, or large-diameter polyethy- lene pipe. Metal time capsules should be seamless unless welded. Use a container that can be sealed with a screw-cap (with a gasket) or one that can be welded shut. The last step is to wrap the container in a waterproof material. For added protection from moisture, a time capsule going into the ground should be placed inside a concrete vault. Finally, for posterity, it is especially important to indicate the exact location where a time capsule has been buried.

    For further information on time capsules, see the following websites: preservation/time.html; index. phtml;; or

H. Kent Lewis (1927-2003)

    H. Kent Lewis, past president of the Birmingham Genealogical Society and vice-president of the Friends of the Alabama Archives, passed away in Birmingham on January 30, 2003.

    A native of Ohio, Mr. Lewis served in the Pacific during World War II and was a graduate of Kent State University. He owned and operated Birmingham Coal and Coke Company, Inc. from 1974 until retiring in 1993. He is survived by his wife, Lila, and three children: Jan, Bob, and Tom.

    Along with many other activities on behalf of ADAH, Mr. Lewis recruited volunteers for loose records microfilming projects in DeKalb, Jefferson, Shelby, and Walker Counties. His friends and fellow genealogists will miss the energy and enthusiasm he devoted to such projects. ADAH honors Kent Lewis for his service to our state and his role in the preservation of Alabama’s county records.