Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Digging for Archives

Arizona Republic Article on Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building

"With the turn of a shovel today, Arizona is finally on the way to protecting the priceless and irreplaceable records of our history.

It's the groundbreaking for the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building, which will have state-of-the-art facilities to store and repair our heritage.

And what a heritage!

Pictures of Geronimo taken by famous Tombstone photographer C.S. Fly. Files from the precedent-setting Miranda case. The state Constitution. A complete set of mug shots of prisoners held in Yuma during territorial days. The meticulously labeled photo collection of the state's first governor, a window into the early 1900s with the walrus-like figure of George Hunt in virtually every picture.

These records are far more than a time capsule. They're vital for resolving a wide range of modern issues, from water rights to citizenship.

For more than two decades, studies have recognized that the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records lacks the space and climate-controlled environment to care for this critical documentation.

Thousands of boxes of records are stored under conditions that leave them vulnerable to heat, humidity, insects and rodents.

Veteran legislator Polly Rosenbaum was a leader among the Arizonans who pushed the archives project through a series of ups and downs in budgeting and politics worthy of the old "Perils of Pauline" movie serials. She herself loved coming down to the archives to research Arizona's past. It's too bad that the project she so passionately supported, which so fittingly bears her name, didn't get under way until now, three years after she passed away at age 104.

The archives building, at 19th Avenue and Madison Street in Phoenix, is due for completion in mid-2008. "

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