March 2021 Program
PA State Archives Moves Into the Future
By David Carmicheal, State Archivist of Pennsylvania
What Does The Future Hold for Our Past?
A new State Archives building is under construction and, with it, the promise of state of the art storage and access to historical materials. Hear about how the Archives is planning for future, what you can expect to find when the new building opens—and what you won’t find there, and learn about new initiatives that will make historical records even more accessible in the future.
David Carmicheal is the State Archivist of Pennsylvania. Before coming to Pennsylvania in 2014 he directed the Georgia Archives from 2000 to 2012, during which time he oversaw the design and construction of the award-winning Georgia Archives building and helped lead national efforts in emergency management, particularly for the protection of essential government records. Before becoming State Archivist of Georgia, he was director of records and archives for Westchester County, New York, for more than sixteen years. He received his Master’s Degree in History and Archives from Western Michigan University. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Society of American Archivists, and one of his books, Organizing Archival Records, has provided practical guidance to small, volunteer-led archives for over 25 years and is now in its fourth edition. He and his wife Yvonne live in Camp Hill.
This archived presentation may be watched here.
Summary of the March 7, 2021 program, “PA State Archives Moves Into the Future”
In 2015, David stated: “I’d like to see the collection be secured in a new building. And the second big challenge right now is collecting the digital records that will be history 100 years from now.” His presentation, walked us through the layout of the new building, showing architectural renditions of the public areas, storage areas, staff and mechanical areas.
- The new 137,000 sq. ft. archives building will be mostly storage, but about half will be dedicated to the public areas.
- There will be free parking for visitors. In order to exit the parking area, visitors will need to obtain a code that will only be available inside the archives. This will ensure that only visitors to the archives will be able to access the parking lot.
- Public areas will include WIFI accessibility and ample electrical outlets, a small group meeting room and a large community/meeting/classroom/training area, and a project room which will include a video monitor.
- Display areas will feature rotating items from the collection.
- Researchers will find more tables, chairs, and better lighting.
- Gone are microfilm readers. Digitized microfilm available to browse by image on computers.
- Some digitized microfilm will become available to browse from home. Currently the PA State Library Power Library hosts the PA State Archive collection. (Note: these are not indexed and searchable)
- The PA State Archive catalog of finding aids is now on Eloquent Systems, and will soon change its name to “The Arch.”
- There is no date for post-Covid opening. It’s expected that appointments will be required.
- Archives staff are answering questions by email. You can contact them through the website pastatearchives.org.
- There have been some interesting finds - a 1641 census for Blair County and a passport issued in 1826.
Hopefully, the new Archives will open to the public sometime in late 2022. Researchers are anxiously awaiting and eager to use the new Archives to dive into the past with the knowledge that that past will be there for future researchers.
Summary by Becky Anstine.