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County to partner with History Center to preserve records


Allegheny County will partner with the Smithsonian-affiliated Senator John Heinz History Center to preserve and maintain some of the county’s historical records and document books, including minutes books that date back to 1868.

Legislation submitted to County Council will authorize the History Center to act as custodian of the records while also ensuring continued public access to the documents.

“We are fortunate to have over 130 years’ worth of documents and minutes at the county that reflects the daily business and decisions made by County Commissioners’ over the past century. These records allow us to understand what played into the decisions that were made by those elected officials, and also provides us with a picture of what events, issues and initiatives were important in our county’s history,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

“As representatives of this ‘new’ form of government – which is now in its 15th year, we have a responsibility to maintain and preserve the records of our previous form of government. It is fortuitous that the History Center is in our backyard. We are grateful to President and CEO Andy Masich and the History Center for the willingness to partner with us to preserve our history and maintain these records while continuing to provide access to these documents to the public.”

The ordinance will authorize the transfer of custody, but not ownership, of 160 minutes books of the County Commissioners. The first book dates to January 23, 1868, with the last book reflecting the final meeting under the three commissioner form of government on December 27, 1999.

Forty minutes books of the Allegheny County Institution District will also be transferred which cover the years 1940 to 1977. For its part, the History Center will maintain and preserve the county records under preservation guidelines established by the Society of American Archivists at no cost to the county. It will also provide public access to the records at the History Center.

“As Allegheny County’s official historical society, the History Center is delighted that Allegheny County is considering naming the History Center the steward of these important documents,” said Andy Masich, president and CEO of the History Center. “Since 1879, the History Center has been collecting materials that document more than 250 years of life in Western Pennsylvania. This partnership comes at a perfect time as the History Center recently launched the Museum Conservation Center for treating historical archives and artifacts.”

The document books that will be transferred to the History Center are currently stored in the Allegheny County Executive’s offices and can be viewed by appointment.

The legislation will receive a first reading at County Council’s Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 meeting and is expected to be referred to one of council’s committees for consideration.


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