Election Season is Upon Us!

It’s just five more days until election day, so we decided to collaborate with our pals at the Capitol Museum and the Digital Arizona Library to put together a display of some of our more interesting treasures from our collections. Stop by the reading room if you have a chance, but here is a sneak preview!


This act gives instruction as to the collection of poll taxes, 1899. The first first act related to poll taxes was passed in 1879, and poll taxes were declared unconstitutional in 1963 with the Twenty-fourth Amendment.


A George W.P. Hunt campaign poster, undated. (ca. 1920s or 1930s)


A telegram of congratulations to George W.P. Hunt from G.C. Ruffner.


A congressional district map from 1965, when Arizona had only three districts! Many thanks to Ryan Ehrfurth for contributing this from the Digital Arizona Library.


Some ephemera goodies courtesy of the Arizona Capitol Museum – many thanks to Museum Curator Stephanie Mahan!


A selection of photos from our Photo Archivist, Wendi Goen.

Happy 35th Birthday, Groundwater Management Act!


Stop by the display case at the State Archives to see some of the original documents from the passage of the Groundwater Management Act!

Water in the American West is always a hot topic, but it’s made the news a lot more in recent years as California has struggled with drought, and western states continue to discuss how to allocate water resources. Determining how to parse out scarce water resources in our own arid region, and how to plan for tough times, has been a part of Arizona’s history. 2015 marks 35 years since one of the most important pieces of water management legislation was signed by Governor Bruce Babbitt, the Groundwater Management Act of 1980.


Governor Bruce Babbitt

The Groundwater Management Act was written by a 25-member groundwater commission (we have those records, too!), who took a year and a half to learn the complexities of water laws. Tough questions they asked included who should have the right to pump groundwater and how much?; what methods should be used to reduce the groundwater overdraft?; and should groundwater be managed primarily at the state or local level?

The Act was signed into law on June 11, 1980. The law restricted new agricultural use of groundwater, required permits for new industrial uses, restricted the drilling of large wells, and implemented the rule that new development subdivisions be able to guarantee 100 years of water supply. The Act also divided the state into four Active Management Areas, with a series of water management plans adopted for each area.


Active Management Areas designated by the Groundwater Management Act

Prior to the passage of the Groundwater Management Act, Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus warned Governor Babbitt that funding for the Central Arizona Project could be threatened, but the reforms ensured that funding for CAP was secured. In the 35 years since its passage, the Groundwater Management Act has been lauded as a landmark piece of legislation that has left the state’s water supply in a more assured position from that of neighboring states.

We have lots of resources related to the Groundwater Management Act, including the Governor Bruce Babbitt records (RG 1, SG 23), the Arizona Groundwater Management Study Commission (RG 48), and the Department of Water Resources (RG 142). Stop by to see the materials on display, or come by to do some research!


Governor Babbitt’s speech following the passage of the Groundwater Management Act.

Dr. Melanie Sturgeon Receives High Honor!

A few months ago, a colleague from Northern Arizona University Special Collections contacted archives staff to see if we could put together a bio for our beloved director, Dr. Melanie Sturgeon, so he could nominate her for the Conference of Inter-Mountain Archivists (CIMA) Lifetime Achievement Award. It took us awhile to condense all of her amazing work into just a short paragraph! Melanie is such an amazing champion of Arizona history and archives, has fostered archivists new to the profession, and has been instrumental in building a close-knit archival community here in Arizona! We can’t think of a more deserving recipient. Read more about her award here! DSC_1243

Preserving Arizona’s Web, One Crawl at a Time

Did you know that part of the State Archive’s responsibilities include archiving the websites of the Arizona State Government? Electronic media is the primary way that people communicate in the present, therefore preserving digital-born material is vital for future generations of researchers. Since we began web archiving in 2007, we’ve crawled 68.1 million internet-based documents and collected 4.5 terabytes of data!

Using Archive-It software, we “crawl” the State of Arizona’s websites and harvest digital-born content, including documents, videos and images. These crawls are essentially snapshots of a page that once captured, future researchers may revisit and interact with as though those sites were still running. The public has online access to these collections 24/7, and our entire corpus is easily searched with a click of a button. If only paper-based research was so easy!

Like traditional archiving, we create collections of related sites for researchers. Our primary goal is to preserve the websites of Arizona’s state agencies and departments. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites of our elected officials are also essential sources of information.  We also preserve special interest sites that may be thematic or based around a specific event, such as Arizona’s centennial celebration in 2012. Websites are constantly changing, therefore it is important that we crawl our collections regularly.

The web archiving project is made possible by a grant provided by the Library Services and Technology Act. To access the Arizona Web Archive, follow this link to our partner page at Archive-It. Content on the page will be updated frequently over the coming months so check it often! You may contact us with questions or comments about the project at archives@azlibrary.gov.


Web archivists comb through thousands of URLs to make sure only necessary webpages are archived. They use a programming language called regular expressions to expand or narrow the scope of each web crawl.


Some websites may block certain crawlers from capturing their pages or lead them into traps of endless URLs. Archivists must test and retest each website to make sure Archive-It captures a complete and efficient snapshot of the page.


Once captured, web data forms a complete picture of the website at the time it was crawled. Using Archive-It’s Wayback Machine, researchers may experience the Arizona Historical Society’s page as it appeared when it was crawled on September 16, 2014.



The Jane Karl collection

Scanned ImageWe are so delighted to bring you the newly-digitized Jane Karl Mid-century Modern Architectural Rendering collection, now available on the Arizona Memory Project! This collection has been so much fun to work with, not only because it is so visually stunning, but because it has given us a chance to collaborate with lots of great colleagues, historic preservationists, and the artist’s son, Phil Karl.

Scanned Image

Last year, some historic preservation friends put us in touch with the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office. Because they work so much with the architectural and historic preservation community in Phoenix, they were alerted to a wonderful collection that needed a home – the Jane Karl collection. Jane Karl and her husband Walter owned an architectural renderings studio, and did work for noted architects such as Del Webb and John F. Long. Unable to house the collection there, they were delighted to connect us with Phil Karl, the artist’s son, who donated the collection to thScanned Imagee archives in May.

This collection is preserved and accessible thanks to the work of so many friends and collaborators! The City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office was great to put us in touch with the artist’s son. Phil Karl was so generous in not only donating the collection, but working with Alison King of modernphoenix.net to provide robust descriptive information on the collection. Richard Prouty helped us with getting the collection online, and you can see a great cross-section of the collection here: http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/cdm/landingpage/collection/archkarl. Scanned Image


Happy Election Day!

Happy election day! We hope you have a chance to get out and vote today, if you haven’t already! Election day is not just an important day to practice your civic duty, it’s also an opportunity to recognize historic events that got us here. Today marks 100 years since women were first able to vote in a statewide election. We hope you’ll stop by today or in the next few days to check out some of the wonderful resources we have here at the State Archives related to the struggle for women’s suffrage.

RG99_SG10_B01_F05_I01_suffrage_handbill (3)


Arizona became a state in February 1912.  Prior to statehood, while writing the state’s new constitution, the issue of women’s suffrage came up.  Influential politician, George Hunt, who was president of the constitutional convention, decided not to support women’s right to vote, in part because he was concerned that the President of the United States would deny our request for statehood if we included suffrage in our constitution.  Also, at the time, a lot of men were concerned about the strong support many women had towards temperance.  These men feared that if women could vote they would back candidates that supported prohibition.

However, the state constitution gave voters the right to amend the constitution through the initiative process.  The Arizona Equal Suffrage Campaign Committee was organized and collected the 3,342 male signatures required by law to get a women’s suffrage initiative on the November 1912 ballot.  This initiative passed and became part of Arizona’s constitution nearly 8 years before women were granted the right to vote in national elections.

urns out the saloon supporters were right. Temperance supporters circulated a petition to institute prohibition in Arizona and the majority of the signers were women.  In the 1914 election the Arizona prohibition initiative passed and we became a dry state in 1915.


This wagon was used to dampen the dusty streets of Phoenix with alcohol the day that prohibition went into effect.

To NDNP and Beyond!

By Eden Robins, ADNP project manager

                                        “Change is inevitable. Progress is optional.”                                                                       ~Tony Robbins

Dome Renovation

Once again I visited our nation’s capital to attend the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) awardee conference. This year, however, was a little different. As I arrived at my hotel, I saw that the capitol dome I had so admired during my last visit was surrounded by scaffolding; clearly in the midst of a major renovation. When I researched what was happening, I learned that the renovation was for the purpose of stopping the current level of deterioration in the dome’s cast iron. Doing so would protect and preserve the interior of the dome and the rotunda for the future.

During one of my walks around the city, I took a closer look and could still see the original dome beneath all of the scaffolding. It appeared strong and enduring, despite the work being done. As I noted this, I considered what renovations were being done and how that might change the dome. Would it look different, would it look exactly the same? Would it be stronger, better or more beautiful?

What’s going to happen is unknown, but regardless of this, I know one thing for certain. Change is on its way.

It was more than the dome, however, that was different this year. In addition to my regular conference, I attended a preconference entitled, Beyond NDNP, to discuss what states around the country were going to do once their digital newspaper grant work for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Library of Congress and Chronicling America had finished. For Arizona, that was coming up fast. At the end of 2014, Arizona’s funding to contribute newspaper content to the National Digital Newspaper Program would end.

Then what? How might things change? How would Arizona continue to document and preserve its history through digitized newspapers? Would things be completely different or look exactly the same? Would a program develop that was stronger, better or more comprehensive?

What’s going to happen is unknown, but regardless of this, I know one thing for certain:Change is on its way.

Beyond NDNP Forum

Beyond NDNP Forum 2014, rooftop of the Intercontinental Willard Hotel, Washington DC


And that’s exactly what the Beyond NDNP two day forum was all about. Nationwide, states creating these digital newspapers for public access were facing the same questions as Arizona, and trying to come up with solutions. So, in an effort to address change, transition and progress, about twenty five states met for the first time to discuss and think about how we might move forward together beyond the NDNP grant. In addition, representatives from organizations who understand the importance and historic relevance of the newspaper digitization work being done were there to offer their support.

The two day preconference meeting took place in the office complex of the historic Willard Intercontinental Hotel in DC, overlooking the National Mall. This hotel, which dates back to 1818 has seen everything from Charles Dickens staying there in 1842 (and again in 1887), the Peace Convention being held there in 1861, Franklin D Roosevelt’s inauguration there in 1937,  Martin Luther King, Jr. finishing his I Have a Dream speech while staying there in 1963, to the George Bush Sr. Inauguration in 1989.

Willard Intercontinental DC

Willard Intercontinental, Washington DC

Despite its long and historic heritage, this iconic landmark is now transformed into one of the most eco-friendly hotels in DC and was, in fact, the first hotel in the city to be 100% wind powered. In light of that, it seemed fitting that our Beyond NDNP group had our inaugural forum there.

What’s going to happen is unknown, but regardless of this, I know one thing for certain. Change is on its way.

 Just as I’m hopeful that the capitol dome will transition from its renovated state into something stronger and better, I too hope that our Beyond NDNP group will weather this change as the Willard Intercontinental  has done, emerging into an era of newspaper digitization, preservation and public access that becomes a force which is both enduring and innovative.




Exciting News at the State Archives!

It’s an embarrassment of riches over here at the State Archives! 

We recently received an amazing collection of mid-century architectural renderings done by Ms. Jane Karl (pretty unusual for that period!), and we wanted to give you a preview of the collection! (Please click on the image below to view in greater detail). arc rendering copy

This scan was taken from an oversized drawing, and was made possible with our new scanner.

scannerFolks, meet the Map Master XL!

Stay tuned!

Meet Archives Volunteer Donovan Wood

Like many archives, we rely on volunteers and interns to make our repository a more exciting and productive place. This week, we took a little bit of time to capture Donovan Wood on camera, and chat with him about how he found his way to the Archives, what he’s been up to, and where he hopes to take his history background in the future. Thank you, Donovan!! DonovanCropped

  1. Tell us a little about yourself

I had the privilege to grow up among the redwoods and vineyards of California’s Russian River wine country. As beautiful as the area is, when I first visited Arizona in 1988, I resolved that one day I would make it my home. After time spent in El Paso, Texas, and Lafayette, Louisiana, in 2005, I was accepted to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where I remained until I moved to Phoenix in 2011. I have two grown sons. My oldest, Zack, is a police officer in Arnaudville, Louisiana. My youngest, Eric, is a chef at Brix restaurant in Flagstaff. I have a passion for classic automobiles and am always on the lookout for an unexplored highway.

  1. What is your educational background? What was your research focus?

I hold a B.A. and M.A. in History from NAU. My graduate research focused on the emerging field of U.S. Borderlands history, 20th century cultural and labor history, and gender studies. What brought me to NAU in the first place was their Department of Applied Indigenous Studies. I especially wanted to be at an institution that offered a solid cross-disciplinary perspective of Native American topics. That, coupled with explorations of Chicano/a history, have provided me with a rich understanding of the region across time, space, and place.

  1. How did you become interested in history?

I’ve been interested in History since I was old enough to be interested in anything! In the third grade, I was fascinated (some family members might have thought obsessed) with the history of the U.S. Presidency. I could name them all in order, memorized the years they served and their birth and death years. After a visit to Ellis Island some years ago, I considered compiling a history of passenger steamship service full of arcane statistical data on age, gender, ethnicity, country of origin, etc. Pretty nerdy stuff! I’ve also been known to geek out on the history of regional urban development — roads, highways, neighborhoods, ethnic enclaves, etc. In addition to exploring broad, macrohistorical historical themes, I can also get downright microhistorical about investigating, say, the history of the eight-unit apartment complex I live in.

  1. Why did you want to come volunteer at the Archives?

My first visit to the archives was while I was still in grad school researching my thesis. While there, it began to occur to me that what I seemed to most enjoy about “doing history” was the hunt for evidence, while I found the actual production of history (the analysis and writing) quite frustrating. When I decided that I would forgo a Ph.D, I began to consider applying my education in the area of historical inquiry that I knew I had an interest in. To have marketable skills as an archivist, however, would mean more education. Before making that commitment, I wanted to spend more time in the professional environment of archivists to see if it really was a path I wanted to pursue.

  1. What is your favorite part of working with archival materials?

Archival materials are the tangible evidence of our past. They take my imagination places it can’t otherwise go. Like bibliophiles love the smell of an old book, I feel a very real connection to the past by handling these materials. It’s very similar to what so many find fascinating about coin or stamp collecting — that question of what an object might have been “witness” to. I also feel a great sense of satisfaction from being part of a process that makes the past accessible to future generations by providing a context for interpretation as well as an environment conducive to responsible preservation.

Donovan with Collection

  1. What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on inventorying an engaging collection of materials that scratches my itch for urban history. These materials were donated by the family of a woman who was in high demand as a commercial artist producing architectural renderings for several major real estate developers in the Valley. Once the material is processed, patrons and researchers will have a rich resource from which to learn about the mid-century development of the metro area. It’s also a chance to appreciate some first rate technical drawings purely for their artistic merit!

  1. What is your dream job?

I’ve come to value the role of a support player — someone who works behind the scenes on details that make others shine. As someone with significant research experience, I understand the value of having accessible archival materials. In this field, my dream job would surely involve the continuing development and population of virtual repositories that enable the broadest access possible. Of course, with my appreciation for strong historical analysis and interpretation, this would certainly include digital curation of exhibits. Or I could drive a truck.