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The consciousness of its Secretary of State, at least

Another major genealogical collection is under major and imminent threat of being lost — this time in Arizona.

AZ.flagUnless something changes — and fast — the Arizona State Library Genealogy Collection — a vast collection of more than 200,000 volumes (correction: 20,000), many of them irreplaceable — is about to be lost to public access.

So our help is being sought in educating Arizona officials, and particularly the Secretary of State there, as to the value of maintaining this priceless resource.

Here’s a description of this amazing collection from Daniela Moneta, former Arizona State Library Genealogy Librarian:

The Genealogy Collection started when Arizona was made a Territory by President Lincoln on Valentine’s Day in 1863. The Governor of the new territory was assigned to purchase books for the Territorial Collection. This is when many of the genealogy books were purchased. These books were sent by buckboard to the new capitol in Prescott. The Territorial Collection moved to Tucson, back to Prescott, and eventually ended up in Phoenix where it is today. The collection built steadily from then on to include sets of the colonial records from all states. The largest collection of genealogy books in the Arizona Genealogy Collection are for Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, etc. The Arizona books in the collection are the most complete in the country and available for reference by mail from the Genealogy staff. Many of these books still have the Arizona Territorial stamp in them. The collection is now over 200,000 volumes (correction: 20,000 volumes) that the people of Arizona and people from other states use to do their genealogy.

And now here’s what’s going on:

The Secretary of State of Arizona, who oversees the State Library, wants the space now occupied by the genealogy collection for other uses. Under the misguided notion that everything genealogists really need to use is online, the original plan was to simply close the collection. Pushback from the genealogical community has resulted in a plan to move the collection to the State Archives.

The hitch, of course, is that the State Archives doesn’t have room to make this 200,000+-volume collection accessible to the public. If this move goes forward — and it could be as early as this Friday, July 31st — the collection will most likely end up in storage … and ultimately piecemealed out or lost forever.

The Arizona genealogical community asks for our help, in emailing Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan (, Arizona State Librarian Joan Clark (, Digital Content Director Laura Stone (), and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (Contact Governor Ducey), to let them know how important the collection is nationally as well as to the people of Arizona.

If you live in Arizona, your voice is particularly important, since politicians listen to constituents a lot more than they do to those they consider outsiders.

But if you have roots in Arizona, your voice is almost as important: tell them how valuable it is to have a collection like this to attract tourists and others — like you — who’ll spend money there!

And if you have ever used the collection, for any reason, tell them how important it is to maintain this priceless resource.

No, Ms. Secretary of State, it’s not all online. We need the books. Arizonans deserve to have the books. Keep the books, and keep them accessible.

Please speak out, and help save the Arizona State Genealogy Library!

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