Kudos, Ghosts!

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Our “Ghosts of West Temple” online story map exhibit has received national recognition!  The exhibit was submitted to ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute), an international supplier of GIS software, as an example of one of the many uses of a story map.  ESRI highlighted our exhibit on their website, and also featured it in their twitter feed, with re-tweets from as far away as South Africa and Great Britain.

If you haven’t already visited, take a trip back in time with our “Ghosts!”

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Evolution of a Lost House

35 South 500 East in 1936.

35 South 500 East in 1936. Image from Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Cards.

The house that used to occupy 35 South 500 East was built circa 1876, with a rear addition added in 1896 and a remodel completed in 1938.  The Tax Appraisal Card below shows many of the features of the house, and some of the changes that the building experienced during its existence.

35 South 500 East. Tax Appraisal Card from 1936.

35 South 500 East. Tax Appraisal Card from 1936.

The back of the 1936 Tax Appraisal Card  shows a plot plan drawing for the residence. This plan indicates the date that each section of the house was built, and provides details about the beautiful two story front porch.

35 South 500 East. Plot plan drawing of residence in 1936.

35 South 500 East. Plot plan drawing of residence in 1936.

For many years this house was owned by the Woodwards, including Mattie S. Woodward and her daughter, Lillian Woodward.  Mattie Woodward was a daughter of Orson Spencer, a prominent LDS Church member and first chancellor of the University of Deseret (now the University of Utah).  35 South 500 East served as a center of Salt Lake society, hosting weddings, teas, and many other social events through the years, including a large birthday party held for Mrs. Mattie Woodward in 1941.

Salt Lake Telegram, 1941-01-30.

Salt Lake Telegram, 1941-01-30.

Mattie Spencer Woodward was a “belle” of the 1860s, and her husband Samuel Woodward was a prominent merchant.

The house was removed in 1956, and a medical building constructed in its place.

35 So 500 E receipt004


Tax Appraisal Cards and Photographs, 35 South 500 East, serial 2-3264. Salt Lake County Archives. 

“Party for Mrs. Mattie Woodward is Smart Social Highlight,” Salt Lake Telegram, 1941-01-30.  Accessed via Utah Digital Newspapers.

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Ghosts of West Temple

On the spot where thousands of people explore their family history, another story waits to be told….

ghosts of west temple

West Temple street now contains the Family History Library, the LDS Church History Museum, and several parking lots, but it was once home to some of the most prominent families of Utah.  The houses are long gone and the families have moved, but their stories and images remain.  This interactive exhibit seeks to provide a brief peek of the buildings and some of the families that once called West Temple their home.  We invite you to travel back in time with us! 

This exhibit is in celebration of Utah Archives Month.  Check out other activities highlighting the collections of archives and special collections across Utah.

Archives Month logo

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Survival Strategies for Personal Digital Records

Electronic files are much more fragile than paper records, and their long-term survival requires attention and planning. These tips can help you better preserve your personal digital collections.

Personal Files:

  • Focus on your most important files. These files may include: resumes, school papers, financial spreadsheets, letters, maps, and family histories.
    • Decide which documents have long-term value and focus your efforts there.
  • Print out your most critical files to protect them against loss.  Doing so increases the chances that your documents and images will remain accessible and allows you to focus upon backing up and copying/migrating files that cannot easily be printed out (e.g., databases, video files).
  • Create multiple copies of the files and manage them in different places.  Doing so will keep your information safe even if your computer crashes.
    • Make at least two copies of your files – more copies are better.
  • Organize your files by giving individual documents descriptive file names.  Creating a directory/folder structure on your computer will help you organize your files.  Write a brief description of the directory structure and the documents for future reference.
  • Check your files at least once a year to make sure you can read them.  Every 3 – 5 years you will need to copy and migrate your files to a newer media.  Storage media have limited life spans, and hardware and software changes can keep you from accessing files stored on media that hasn’t deteriorated.
    • Use new, high-quality storage media. Avoid unknown brands.
  • Convert important files to a universal output format such as plain text (.txt), Rich Text Format (.rtf), or PDF/A (a form of PDF designed to support long-term preservation).
    • Files created with obsolete software should be converted to newer formats to avoid losing access.

Digital Images:

  • Back up and copy/migrate your images as outlined above
  • Organize them as you create them.  It is much harder to identify thousands of images as time passes.
  • In addition to facing the threats outlined above, image files are often compressed, which reduces file size but can permanently remove some visual information.  Save important images either uncompressed or with lossless compression. Good choices format choices include TIFF (.tif), and JPEG2000 (.jp2).
  • The resulting files are often quite large, so treat them as “master copies” and create GIF (.gif) or JPEG (.jpg) “use copies” to share via e-mail or the Web.
  • You can also print out your images.  To ensure that your images last for decades, order prints from a lab that will place them on an archival medium.

Additional Resources:

The Library of Congress is a great resource for information on personal digital archiving, found at: http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/records.html

Key resources also include:

Why Digital Preservation is Important to Everyone:  http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/multimedia/videos/digipres.html

Preserving Your Digital Memories:  http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/documents/PA_All_brochure.pdf

The University of Michigan Library publication entitled Preserving Personal Digital Files is also a great resource. It contains a wealth of suggestions for further reading as well.  This publication can be found at: http://www.lib.umich.edu/files/services/preservation/PreservingPersonalDigitalFilesGuide.pdf

Thank you to CoSA for these recommendations.

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October 10, 2015 is Electronic Records Day (get it? 1-0-1-0).  E-Records Day is designed to raise awareness among state government agencies, the general public, related professional organizations, and other stakeholders about the crucial role electronic records play in their world. This year, E-Records Day is highlighting the importance of appropriate management of electronic communications in government.

In recognition of Electronic Records Day 2015, here is a list of reasons why everyone should be thinking more about electronic records.

10 reasons why electronic records need special attention

  1. Managing electronic records is like caring for a perpetual toddler: they need regular attention and care in order to remain accessible.
  1. Electronic records can become unreadable very quickly. While records on paper have been read after thousands of years, digital files can be virtually inaccessible after just a few.
  1. Scanning paper records is not the end of the preservation process: it is the beginning. Careful planning for ongoing management expenses must be involved as well.
  1. There are no permanent storage media. Hard drives, CDs, Magnetic tape or any other storage formats will need to be tested and replaced on a regular schedule. Proactive management is required to avoid catastrophic loss of records.
  1. The lack of a “physical” presence can make it very easy to lose track of electronic records. Special care must be taken to ensure they remain in controlled custody and do not get lost in masses of other data.
  1. It can be easy to create copies of electronic records and share them with others, but this can raise concerns about the authenticity of those records. Extra security precautions are needed to ensure e-records are not altered inappropriately.
  1. The best time to plan for electronic records preservation is when they are created. Don’t wait until software is being replaced or a project is ending to think about how records are going to be preserved.
  1. No one system you buy will solve all your e-records problems. Despite what vendors say, there’s no magic bullet that will manage and preserve your e-records for you.
  1. Electronic records can help ensure the rights of the public through greater accessibility than ever before, but only if creators, managers and users all recognize their importance and contribute resources to their preservation.
  1. While they may seem commonplace now, electronic records will form the backbone of the historical record for researchers of the future.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow’s post for e-records day will be: Survival strategies for personal digital records.

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Once a Community Hub

501 East 900 South. Image taken in 1936. Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Photographs, serial 2-274.

501 East 900 South. Image taken in 1936. Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Photographs, serial 2-274.

This service station on the corner of 500 East and 900 South (across from Liberty Park in Salt Lake City) was a very busy place in 1936.  The county tax assessor that took this photograph caught a number of patrons at the gas pumps, and also a car raised and waiting for mechanical work.

Check out how it looks now.

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Please Welcome:

Salt Lake County Records Management and Archives recently hired a new manager, Maren Slaugh.  Maren came to us from the Sandy Police Department, where she had been the Assistant Records Manager for 2 years.  Her career with Sandy Police spanned a total of 10 years, during which she served as the Privacy and Security Coordinator (TAC) in the Records Division for 7 years prior to becoming a supervisor.  She worked closely with the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) to maintain State standards regarding criminal records, and also with the FBI for crime reporting statistics.  As one of the Records supervisors, she helped the Sandy Police Department implement a new records management system called Versadex.

To introduce our readers to Maren, a short Q and A session was held:

How did you become interested in the field of Records Management?

Maren: I applied for the job in Sandy 10 years ago and fell in love with Records Management when I became the Privacy and Security Coordinator (TAC). In the course of my work, I met with people from different law enforcement and state agencies that also had the same desire to keep accurate and transparent records and information.

What are the issues in RM that you feel are most important to focus on?

Maren: Among many issues, being able to get a handle on maintaining the integrity of electronic records, and disaster recovery related to both analog and digital records.

How are you adapting to life at the County Records Center? Any likes or dislikes yet?

Maren: After 10 years of having to wear a uniform, I can now break out and wear what I want.  Except that now I don’t know what to wear….

What are some of your interests outside of work that you would like to share with us?

Maren: In my free time I enjoy volunteering for the Center for the Arts, and for the last 8 years I have been very involved with the Sundance Film Festival.  As a Food Network addict, I love to cook (although in deference to my waistline, I give most of the desserts that I create away to friends).

During my career with the police, I served on the Child Abduction Response Team, and I have been extremely fortunate to be able to continue to be a member of this team.

In the short time that I have been at the Archives, I have already caught the genealogy bug and now spends hours conducting research in to my ancestry.

Salt Lake County Records Manager Maren Slaugh

Salt Lake County Records Manager Maren Slaugh

Maren started with Records Management and Archives on June 15.  Welcome, Maren!

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