Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Arizona State Archives: Wonderful Local Sources for Genealogical Research
This is an ongoing series of posts highlighting the resources of all 50 of our state archives in the United States. I am working through the states alphabetically but you are welcome to request that I jump ahead to your favorite. Just tell me what you would like to see in a comment.

Arizona's experience with document storage i.e. archives is probably similar to many of the states except for the time period involved. Here is a quote from a website that addresses the construction of the Polly Rosenbaum State Archives building, which currently houses the Arizona State Archives.
The Polly Rosenbaum State Archives and History Building preserves state documents, artifacts, and public records that require precise climate controlled storage as well as additional protections from biological, environmental and mechanical hazards. 
Prior to the Rosenbaum Archive’s completion in 2008, over 250,000 boxes of irreplaceable materials were being stored in various locations around the state, including in the attic of the Capitol Building. Worse, every month, a number of these relics of Arizona’s history were being destroyed due to a lack of space. 
Insect and rodent infestations in these areas were so severe that merely handling the papers would have posed a significant health risk. 
Because of the delicate nature involved in preserving these items, designers conducted extensive research to insure that the new facility would remain a cutting-edge sanctuary designed to protect the valuable historic assets. 
Expert consultants advised on every aspect of construction, from lab equipment to the individual building materials. All possible threats were considered, from fire, water, and other environmental dangers to theft and rodent infiltration and even terrorist activity.
Note the date of completion in 2008. The first European settlements in Arizona began in 1539. The city of Tucson was established in 1775. Hence, Arizona history goes back before the establishment of the Plymouth Colony in 1620 in what is now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In short, there was no organized area-wide document preservation effort in the State of Arizona for about 469 years. From a genealogical standpoint, this time lag indicates the difficulty researchers will have in locating and reviewing pertinent historical and genealogical records. It is also important to remember that Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912.

Of course, some records were being preserved during the entire history of the State but those records are scattered across the state and in other collections outside of the state. For example, the Arizona Historical Society has four major locations in Arizona and an extensive collection of documents.
The Arizona Historical Society was established by an Act of the First Territorial Legislature in 1864. Here are some quotes from the Arizona Historical Society website:
Established by an Act of the First Territorial Legislature on November 7, 1864, the Arizona Historical Society (AHS) is Arizona’s oldest historical agency. Architects of the Territory’s code of laws realized they were making history and that it was important to preserve a record of their activities. One of their earliest actions was to create the means for documenting the past and recording contemporary events as they unfolded. This became the Arizona Historical Society, formed to collect and preserve “all facts relating to the history of this Territory.” 
The Arizona Historical Society is proud to serve as the steward of Arizona’s history. Our collections, housed in AHS museum facilities throughout the state, number in excess of three million objects.  Our artifact and manuscript holdings offer unrivaled opportunities for public programming, educational outreach, and exhibitions, as well as academic and community-based research. AHS collections not only provide premier resources for recounting Arizona’s past, but are invaluable tools for promoting public understanding of contemporary issues such as water availability, immigration, free trade, mining, ranching and agribusiness, the defense industry, cultural diversity, and urban development and revitalization. The Arizona Historical Society — through its exhibits, programs, publications, and outreach — informs and inspires people of all ages by reminding them of the boldness and daring that characterized countless individuals, past and present, who have made Arizona their home.
Genealogists who are unfamiliar with the differences between state historical societies and the state archives should take note of the need to look for documents in multiple organizations. Arizona, like many other places in the United States, also has a number of local and county historical societies and organizations. For many years, the State of Arizona had a "Genealogy" library and reading room located in the State Capitol Building. Because of a lack of space, this collection was moved into storage. Ultimately, some of the items were digitized and ended up on but most of the collection was transferred to the new Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records building. Here are some specific items in their collections that are valuable to genealogists.
Genealogical resources at the Arizona State Archives include but are not limited to:
  • Assessment Rolls containing lists of taxable persons and their property.
  • Brand Indexes and Books.
  • Coroner or Justice Court records detail inquests held for violent or suspicious deaths
  • Great Registers containing personal information required of those who registered to vote.
  • Records from the Territorial Prison.
  • Superior Court records including marriage licenses, wills, probate cases, and civil and criminal cases. 
  • Historic Arizona newspapers
  • Arizona Collection with more than 75,000 items 
  • A Ready Reference collection of general books
  • Online resources (for in-Library use): Ancestry
In addition, the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records has several online record collections and catalogs.
Arizona should be an example to genealogical researchers of the need to identify all of the important archival locations within a state. In my case, for example, I visited the local city museum of the tiny Arizona town where some of my ancestors lived and immediately saw a photograph of my Great-grandfather standing in front of his blacksmith shop. If you do a search by county in Arizona, you will find that every county has either a historical society, museum or some kind of library. By the way, there are only 15 counties in Arizona. Also, Maricopa County, Arizona has a larger population than the entire State of Utah.

No comments:

Post a Comment