Thursday, March 12, 2015

In March 2015 We Met The Archivist

Brigid Clift, Central Region Archivist for the Washington State Archives, provided a transparent view of her activities and responsibilities as the Archivist of government records last night to the TriCity Genealogical Society.

There are various reasons why government agency records need to be retained. Some retention schedules require that the records be held for 99 years or permanently! As the Archivist, Brigid answers many questions on how long records need to be kept. She also collects records from various agencies and takes them to the Central Region Branch of the Washington State Archives for storage. The Central Region Archives provides archival and records management services for Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, and Yakima county government agencies. The facility is state-of-the-art and Brigid encouraged those planning on attending the 2015 Washington State Genealogical Society conference to tour the Archives while in Ellensburg.

Brigid shared copies of various types of records to provide an idea of what is available at the Archives. She encouraged genealogists to interact with her. A major function of her job is obtaining material. She does this with the desire to share what she has collected. She explained three ways that she shares information from the Archives; requests, visits, and volunteer interaction.

Look-ups and research requests can be sent to Brigid explained that she enjoys providing this type of service but encouraged some work on the part of the researcher before sending a request. Record groups descriptions, including date range and volume size, is available at The most productive requests fit within the description of the record group. If a date in not known, a date range should be provided in the request.

Due to budget cuts the Central Region Archives has limited hours for visits. It is important to call or email before visiting to ensure that the archives are open and that someone is available to pull requested records. Brigid encouraged a review of the holdings before a visit. A review of the volume size gives the researcher information to plan how long their research efforts may take. Some record groups are indexed and some are not. This information is also available in the holdings list.

The Genealogical Society of Utah has recently scanned a large amount of images for the Central Region Archives. Volunteers can help with indexing these scanned images which is necessary before they become searchable online through the Digital Archives. To set up an account to help with this project go to or contact the Historical Records Project at for more information.

It was a treat to have Brigid speak at the TriCity Genealogical Society March meeting. We got to learn that Archivists are real people who love the records that they take care of and that they want to share these records. She represented the role of Archivist, of which there are many. Brigid reminded us that each state government and archive has its own way of conducting business.