Electronic Records Day: Electronic Records Tell Our Story Now and Into the Future
Monday, October 9, 2017 • Austin, Texas • News Release
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission joins archival and records organizations across the country in recognizing the importance of managing and preserving personal and government electronic records. What is at stake? According to one report, the estimated amount of data in the digital universe is 2.7 zettabytes (that’s 2.7 trillion gigabytes). Unlike traditional paper records, electronic records are far more difficult to preserve over the long term.
State archivists warn that, while electronic records are commonplace now and seem easily accessible, they require management and care. Without proper preservation, a digital dark age will occur.
Mark Smith, director of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, commented “We as a society have created a wonderful, ubiquitous information infrastructure that seems ever-present and self managing. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
He adds, “Making digital information available and ensuring that it is available for generations to come is critical and challenging work. From governments at all levels to people creating their own letters and email at home, we all face the same challenge and imperative to learn about managing our electronic records.”
The vast portion of our cultural history, documentation of government action, and personal story must be intentionally managed through policies and technologies to ensure long-term availability. For this reason, information leaders across the US have declared October 10 Electronic Records Day to bring awareness about the importance our informational digital assets.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is charged with assisting state and local government with managing their records as well as preserving archival state government records, many of which are in electronic format. To this end, TSLAC develops statewide records retention schedules and makes available to the public a growing repository of electronic resources, including the files of state agencies and elected officials, videos, photographs, and much more.
The Commission’s Texas Digital Archive (TDA) is available online (www.tsl.texas.gov/texasdigitalarchive) and resources may be downloaded at no cost. Some examples of electronic records found in the TDA include:
Jean Laffite: An Inventory of the Jean Laffite Collection at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Archives, 1773-1986
Jean Laffite, along with his brother Pierre, engaged in piracy and smuggling in New Orleans, Louisiana, and then Galveston Island, Texas, during the 1810s-1820s. The Jean Laffite collection has two components. One component consists of original journals, documents, photographs, and publications allegedly written or owned by Jean Laffite or other Laffite family members. These materials were in the possession of claimed Jean Laffite descendant John A. Laffite. The second component consists of documents, photographs, postcards, maps, publications, clippings, research materials, manuscripts, and artwork that were collected by former Texas Governor Price Daniel Sr. The collection pertains to Jean Laffite’s career as a pirate/privateer, his alleged post-1820s life in the United States, Laffite family history, John A. Laffite’s activities and communications concerning his alleged Laffite family materials and his sale of the materials, and Price Daniel’s purchase of and interest in the Laffite materials. Photographic formats include tintypes, cartes-de-visite, and prints. Material dates from 1773 to 1986, and undated, with the bulk dating 1845-1979. Photocopies of some material contain information that originally dates from 1608 to 1980.
More than 198,000 Texans answered the call to join the Allied Forces in an effort to defeat the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. Although many Americans favored neutrality, the details found in a top-secret, coded communiqué between Mexico and Germany, called the Zimmerman Telegram, hinted at a possible pact to regain lost territories in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. The threat of German soldiers on southwestern soil was enough to provoke the United States to declare war on April 6, 1917. Before long, Doughboys were shipping off by the dozen to dig trenches and do their part “Over There.”
The Texas House of Representatives is one arm of the Legislature of the State of Texas (the other being the Texas Senate), which the Texas Constitution (Article III, Section 1) vests with all legislative power of the state. House Photography records contain black-and-white and color photographs, contact sheets, negatives, slides, letters received, photograph order forms, policy statements, and product manuals produced and collected by the House Photography department of the Texas House of Representatives, dating 1971-1975, 1977-1979, 1981-1997. Records are from the 62nd through 74th Legislative Session. The department accumulated these records in the course of its work to make photographic portraits of individual state representatives, to photograph events on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives and in other related entities of state government, and to provide photographs at the request of members.
Information to help people manage their own electronic records may be found at: https://www.statearchivists.org/files/5215/0569/8875/Personal_ERecords_Tips_2017.pdf
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission provides Texans access to the information they need to be informed, productive citizens by preserving the archival record of Texas; enhancing the service capacity of public, academic, and school libraries; assisting public agencies in the maintenance of their records; and meeting the reading needs of Texans with disabilities. For more information visit tsl.texas.gov.