Troup County Archives will also be negatively impacted by the recent decision of Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s decision to cancel regular operating hours at the State Archives. Kaye Minchew, executive director of the Troup County Historical Society and Archives was especially disturbed by this decision.
“Indirectly we will be affected by the closing of the state archives. Researchers who research here often also need to continue their research at the state archives. Our staff periodically needs to research using the state archives and if we suddenly have a problem with the electronic records we often call their staff for advice. They have in the past been happy to give advice and have been generous with their time,” explained Minchew.
“I think it is a devastating and terrible decision,” said Minchew yesterday during an interview. “The archives are records of the people, so how can you be closed to the public,” she asked.
Minchew has been working in the Troup County Historical Society and Archives for almost 30 years and, along with Troup County Historian Clark Johnson, has always had a supportive and close relationship with the staff of the state archives.
Minchew has also been a member of the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board (GHRAB) for over 20 years and presently is the chair of the organization. Before the announcement of Kemp’s decision was made public last Thursday, he had called Minchew to tell her the news directly.
“I had the unfortunate honor of being one of the first to know, outside of the state archives’ staff,” said Minchew. “He really didn’t tell me anything different from what was given to the press except that he said that it was a hard decision for him to make,” she said.
Kemp had stated that starting Nov. 1, the archives will be open only by appointment. Minchew is not convinced that this will be a satisfactory method of operating the archives.
“By appointment only, but we don’t even know what that means. How long is it going to take to get an appointment? How much help are they going to be,” questioned Minchew.
Minchew along with Johnson, who has been working as the county’s historian for the past 23 years, knows that people who use the Troup County research library will now have difficulty obtaining further information from the state.
The Troup County Archives are housed in a three-story building here in LaGrange at 136 Main Street. The building also houses the Troup County Historical Society’s records and exhibits. The first floor of the building displays the permanent and temporary historical exhibits. The second floor houses offices of the staff and the public research library. The third floor secures governmental records from five years ago and going as far back as to 1825, before the county was even formed. The third floor records are kept in sturdy labeled boxes, behind locked doors.
Funds for the Troup County archives come from a variety of sources. The city of LaGrange, Troup County and school board pays to have their records stored. The Troup County Historical Society maintains the cost of the research library and additional funds come from grants that are given by such organizations as Callaway Foundation and the Georgia Humanity Council. The Troup County archives is totally independent of the state archives so is not directly affected by state budget cuts.
“Part of the reason that you want to preserve these records is so that kids and young people can have access to them,” explained Minchew. She ended the interview by again expressing her extreme disappointment of Kemp’s decision, “We have to fight for the state archives, we can’t just let it close, that is just a travesty.”