About the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration
The Vermont State Archives and Records Administration (VSARA) was created by Act 96 of 2008 by transferring the Public Records Division within the Department of Buildings and General Services to the Vermont State Archives within the Secretary of State’s Office. The primary statutory authorities for VSARA can be found in 3 V.S.A. §117 and 3 V.S.A. §218. In turn those statutes support the requirement within Chapter I, Art. 6th of the Vermont Constitution that government officials be accountable to the citizens they serve.
The Vermont State Archives came into being through Act 3 of 2003, though the archival function had long been associated with the Secretary of State’s Office. On October 23, 1779 a legislative committee appointed to “point out the office and duty” of the Secretary of State enumerated the records to be kept by the Secretary as well as the office’s responsibility to “grant copies thereof…when requested.”
On February 15, 1782 the Legislature agreed that, with the exception of Executive Council records, “all public acts and papers and records, that belong to the State…be deposited and remain in the hands of the Secretary of State.” Over time various records were designated for deposit with the Secretary of State, including the official correspondence of governors (1864) and legislative committee minutes (1917). In 1912 the Secretary was directed to publish records within the archives of the state that had a general historical interest. The division then became known as the State Papers Division, which was under the direction of the Editor of State Papers.
The Public Records Commission was created in 1937 to give “aid, advice and information to any or all custodians of public records.” The Commission reflected a national trend of creating programs to help manage the burgeoning volume of public records associated with the expanded services and responsibilities of government. In 1959 the Public Records Division was created as a free standing office within the executive branch. In 1988 Public Records was combined with Purchasing and other functions into a General Services Division and in 1996 became part of the Department of Buildings and General Services.
The division of responsibilities for managing public records, including those designated as archival, proved cumbersome and ineffective. The advent of digital public records, which have special management issues, exacerbated these problems and lead to increasing calls for consolidating the programs. Chief among these was the January 2005 Legislative Council report on Public Records, Privacy and Electronic Access in Vermont and the January 2006 report on Executive Agency Records.
Consolidation occurred on July 1, 2008 with a goal of providing a single authoritative, standards-based source for assisting public agencies in the management of public records.
This page was last updated on: 2012-03-26.