Category Archives: Get Informed

Archives Expanded Hours Begin July 15

The following was released on June 11 by the University System of Georgia, concerning expanded hours at the Georgia Archives:

The Georgia Archives will expand its hours of operation one additional day per week. Beginning July 15, the Archives will open on Tuesdays, in addition to operating Wednesday through Saturday. Hours of operation on all days are 8:30 a. m. to 5 p. m.

The Georgia Archives identifies, collects, manages, preserves, provides access and publicizes records and information of Georgia and its people and assists state and local government agencies with their records management.

The Georgia Archives was established in 1918 and was first housed in the State Capitol Building. The Georgia Archives moved to its current home at 5800 Jonesboro Road in Morrow in 2003.

In 2013 the Georgia Archives was transferred from the Georgia Secretary of State to the Board of Regents.

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Archives Update: Bigger Budget, Exciting Changes Ahead

Big changes are on their way to the Georgia Archives, thanks to the budget approved by the 2013-2014 session of the Georgia General Assembly.
House Bill 744 – the budget for Fiscal Year 2015 – includes an increase for the Archives of $476,041. Some $460,000 of that will allow the Archives to open to the public an additional day and to hire five full-time employees and three part-timers, according to Archives Director Christopher Davidson.
In addition, amendments to the Fiscal Year 2014 budget have allowed the Archives to get a head start on providing more services.
Following is a look at some of the improvements to expect.

• Long distance reference (e-mail and postal mail) – a service that was discontinued due to budget cuts – will be resumed “to some extent.” Staff will answer “reasonable requests.”

• A “real education program” will be developed, with a full-time education coordinator. Educational opportunities will be provided at the Archives, as well as in schools around the state.

• The Archives will be able to take in and process more records, including electronic records, and staff will be able to better advise agencies on how to manage electronic records. The Archives currently is accepting applications for an electronic records manager.

• The portion of the document-scanning project not funded by the R. J. Taylor, Jr. Foundation (a sister organization to the Georgia Genealogical Society) that has languished in the recent past will pick up steam, providing more material for researchers in the Virtual Vault. For-pay services, such as providing scans and other format copies of materials, as resources become available.

Of course, it will take time to get staff hired and programs in place. However, some improvements already have been completed or are underway.

• The University System of Georgia information technology staff has improved the Archives Website, and the Archives now has a Facebook page. A Twitter account also is being considered.

• The USG now is responsible for maintenance and improvements to the building and grounds. Additional funding from a National Endowment for the Humanities grant has paid for updating lighting, the improvement that will be the most noticeable to the public. The change will save costs on operation and purchasing light bulbs. Lighting improvements have been completed in the Original Document Reading Area and are underway in the reading room. Improved lighting and climate control measures for the downstairs classrooms also are on the drawing board.

• Landscaping around the building has been improved, and the sprinkler system has been repaired.

Davidson cautioned that the Archives budget probably will not continue to increase at the pace set by the 2013-2014 legislative session, but that the agency’s budget should be stable in the coming years. Overall, he said he is “happy” about the Archives’ financial situation and “excited” about prospects for the future.
So many people are responsible for the dramatic turn-around – from Gov. Nathan Deal, Rep. Terry England, Sen. Jack Hill, USG Chancellor Henry Huckaby and the Board of Regents to Director Davidson, the Archives staff and the many supporters of the Archives. They deserve congratulations and thanks.
The last few years have proved that much can be accomplished when determined people act. Archives advocates now can breathe easier, but can never fail to be vigilant. The most supportive action now is to use the facility that almost was lost.

Vivian Price Saffold

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Legislative Session Should Be Good For Archives

This time last year Georgia Archives supporters were working hard to get much-needed funds back into the budget.

What a difference a year makes.

The 2013 Georgia legislature restored some funds, allowing the Archives to open four days a week. The Archives also was able to hire three new employees: a conservator, Kimberly Norman, most recently at Emory University; and two archivists, Allison Hudgins, most recently at the Cobb County Public Library System; and Jill Sweetapple, most recently at the DeKalb History Center.

Gov. Nathan Deal recently released his budget requests for Fiscal Year 2015.

The governor requested an increase of $476,041 for operating the Archives. The sum includes $460,000 to allow the Archives to open to the public five days a week and to hire six additional employees. The remaining funds would be used for adjustments to employees’ retirement, insurance and salaries.

In addition, the governor recommended an expenditure of $957,910 for maintenance of the Archives building. Archives director Christopher Davidson said he did not know whether the sum was a one-time expenditure to “catch up” with maintenance or an annual amount. He said the money would be used for energy and labor-saving measures, such as replacing outdated lighting.

The director said he anticipated that some of the funding would be appropriated through amended the FY14 budget and some included in the FY15 budget.

The budget still must go through the legislative process, which generally does not end until near the end of the session.

In his report, the governor stated that the purpose of the appropriation is “to maintain the state’s archives; document and interpret the history of the Georgia State Capitol building; and assist state agencies with adequately documenting their activities, administering their records management programs, scheduling their records, and transferring their non-current records to the State Records Center.”

The situation at the Archives will improve in the coming months, thanks in large part to the diligent actions of Archives supporters. However, everyone knows what can happen if advocates forget.

Contact your legislators at least once during this session, just to let them know we are still watching. Thank the lawmakers, Gov. Deal and the Board of Regents for their support. They will be watching, too. Now that the Archives will be open five days a week, it is important that researchers use the facility we all have worked so hard to save.

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Archives Needs More Researchers

This time last year the Georgia Archives needed the help of everyone who researches Georgia history and genealogy.

Thanks to the people of Georgia and around the world, the Archives has come light years in one short year. From the brink of closure to extra budget and extra public hours, the transformation has been dramatic.

The Archives is now open to the public four days a week – Wednesdays through Saturdays, from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Experts in Georgia history and genealogy are on hand to help. Additional staff has been hired. The permanent history exhibit, closed since last October, is now open again.

However, the budget challenges likely will never end.

The Archives needs your help again. The Archives needs researchers to visit the facility in Morrow. The Archives is now a part of the University System of Georgia. Officials of the USG and state lawmakers are monitoring Archives usage numbers in preparation for budget negotiations during the upcoming legislative session.

Responding to the need has mutually beneficial results. Even with all the ever-growing online services, only a tiny percentage of available records is on the Internet. The key to knocking a hole in your Georgia genealogy brick wall is more likely to be at the Archives than anywhere else.

The Archives collection includes all kinds of county records, – tax digests, wills, estate inventories and deeds, just to name a few – as well as books, manuscripts, personal papers and much more.

Plan a trip to the Georgia Archives today. The Archives will benefit. You will, too.

For more information on the Archives, visit Help in planning a visit can be found here:

Please note that the Web site currently is undergoing renovation due to the shift from the Secretary of State to the University System.

Vivian Price Saffold

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WDYTYA at the Archives

Every genealogy enthusiast is eagerly awaiting the return of the television series, Who Do You Think You Are?

The show features celebrities who, with the help of professional researchers, discover fascinating things about their ancestors. This year’s celebrities are Christina Applegate, Kelly Clarkson, Cindy Crawford, Zooey Deschanel, Chelsea Handler, Chris O’Donnell, Jim Parson and Trisha Yearwood.

Once aired by NBC and picked up by The Learning Channel, the eight new episodes will begin on Tuesday, July 23. Hopefully, TLC will air complete online episodes — as did NBC —  for those who do not have cable.

In previous years the Georgia Archives has hosted Spike Lee and Paula Deen. In preparation for the upcoming season singers Kelly Clarkson and Trisha Yearwood spent time at the Archives.  Yearwood, a Monticello native, discovered records at the Archives proving that she has Georgia ancestors dating back to the 1700s.

WDYTYA will air at 9 p.m. For more information, visit

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A New Day at the Archives

Today begins a new era for the Georgia Archives.  Since 1931 the Archives has been a part of the Secretary of State’s office.

The Archives now operates as a part of the University System of Georgia, led by the 17-member Georgia Board of Regents and Chancellor Hank Huckaby.

Prior to becoming Chancellor, Huckaby was a teacher and administrator in the University System and taught at private colleges and universities. He also served in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, as well as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and as executive director of the Georgia Residential Finance Authority. He served in the Georgia House of Representatives from District 113.

The Archives will be under the direct supervision of USG Executive Vice Chancellor of Administration Steve Wrigley. Wrigley formerly was vice president for governmental relations at the University of Georgia and served as senior policy adviser for Gov. Zell Miller.

The Board of Regents has established a two-man Georgia Archives committee made up of Regents George Hooks and Larry Walker.

Hooks, a great friend of genealogists and historians, is the outgoing long-time state senator from Georgia’s 14th District. He is a sixth-generation native of Sumter County and resides in Americus.

Walker served in the Georgia House of Representatives for more than 30 years. He lives in Perry.

While the Secretary of State remains the keeper of the Great Seal of Georgia and the custodian of the state flag and other state symbols, the Archives is the depository for the state’s most historic and important documents. The excellent professionals at the Archives literally are the keepers and protectors of the state’s history.

The Georgia Genealogical Society sends the Archives best wishes for a smooth and successful transition and a bright future.

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More Good News From the Archives

At today’s Lunch and Learn program, Georgia Archives Director Christopher Davidson announced that the Archives will be adding staff, increasing hours for part-time employees and, yes, opening to the public for two additional days per week.

Here are the highlights:

  • Hiring three additional professionals
  • Increasing part-time staff hours
  • Opening to the public on Wednesdays and Thursdays beginning July 31. Weekly hours will be Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Increasing conservation and processing activities of the Archives collections

The Archives will report to Steve Wrigley, Executive Vice Chancellor Administration, of the University System of Georgia.

Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who helped make this happen, as well as Gov. Nathan Deal and the members of the Georgia legislature.

Vivian Price Saffold


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Two New Archives Positions Advertised

The University System of Georgia yesterday posted two new job openings at the Georgia Archives.

Archivist I

Job description: Under general supervision, provide a wide variety of services in support of a department. May provide supervision to non-exempt staff.


Job description:Under general supervision, provide a wide variety of services in support of a department. May provide supervision to non-exempt staff.

Anyone interested in these positions may search the USG database by going to this Web site:

Vivian Price Saffold

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Archives Update at Lunch and Learn

     Georgia Archives Director Chris Davidson will give an update on the transition of the Archives to the University System of Georgia during June’s Lunch and Learn program.
     Archivist Kayla Barrett also will be on the program, presenting a “refresher”  on Using the Collections of the Georgia Archives.

The event will be held on Friday, June 14 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Georgia Archives, 5800 Jonesboro Road, Morrow.

     Monthly Lunch and Learn programs are free, and no reservations are required. Participants are invited to bring lunches and listen to presentations on a wide variety subjects.

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Sine Die… Many Thanks

The 2013 session of the Georgia General Assembly is history.

At the last minute the Georgia Archives achieved a tiny, but significant victory. The House-Senate Conference Committee on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget chose to support the Senate figure of $300,000,  $75,881 more than the House recommended.

No, in terms of money it’s certainly not quite as much as we’d hoped for. The Archives still will struggle. While the amount may be disappointing, it cannot be surprising, given the state of the economy and the demands on the state budget.

But in terms of advocacy, the value of our campaign cannot be overstated. Repeatedly during the legislative session, lawmakers commented on the strong effort being made by Archives supporters.

The fact that the conferees chose the higher Senate budget number confirms that in the waning days of the session Georgia Archives supporters spoke and legislators listened.

Thanks to all those who have worked, worried and prayed on behalf of the institution we love.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Olson, co-chairman of the Campaign to Save the Georgia Archives, as well as to all GGS members and members of genealogical and historical societies across the state.

Thanks to state legislators who also proved themselves to be Archives advocates: most especially to Rep. Terry England, also to Reps. Earl Ehrhart, Jan Jones and Larry O’Neal and Sens. Jack Hill, Buddy Carter, Ronnie Chance and David Shafer.
University System of Georgia Senior Vice Chancellor for External Affairs Tom Daniel deserves special recognition.

Thanks also to:

  • Archives Director Chris Davidson and Archivist Steve Engerrand, as well as former director David Carmicheal
  • University System of Georgia Regents Dean Alford and George Hooks, as well as University System of Georgia Associate Vice Chancellor for Planning and Implementation Shelley Nickel
  • Our DeKalb County friends John Hewitt of the DeKalb Champion and public relations professional Matthew Spaulding
  • Fred Moss and the Records Preservation and Access Committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies
  • Packet stuffers, phone callers, letter writers and never-give-uppers
  • And, as always, the Georgia Genealogical Society’s great friend Gwinnett Graphics

The next order of business is to keep up with how the Archives fares under new leadership at the University System of Georgia.

And, of course, will start all over again with the 2014 session of the Georgia General Assembly.

Vivian Price Saffold

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