Sanford went from “cow-freak hippie” to an obsessionwith “all things archival”

Sanford, who lives in Marshfield with partner Ondis Eardensohn andhas two grown children, came to Vermont in 1971 to visit friends inNorth Fayston in the back-to-the-land hippie days. Or as he putsit, Once upon a time I wanted to be a country cow-freak hippie. He ended up milking the academic world instead and by the timeDouglas hired him, had history pretty much running through hisveins, having studied with legendary UVM history professor SamuelHand working on oral history of equally legendary Sen. GeorgeAiken, which left him fascinated with Vermont politics. He alsoworked with noted oral historian and author Charlie Morrissey andat MIT.

But his editor s job, which was to annotate and publish 18thcentury Vermont records, came with no staff and no authority to domuch. While humble about his accomplishments, that Vermont now has amassive modern archival records warehouse in Middlesex with some97,000 banker boxes all bar-coded is no minor feat. When Sanford came on board, Vermont was the last state in thenation not to have a state archives. Worse, for Sanford, was thathe did his job in the basement of the Pavilion office building, notthe best place for records that ranged the 1777 VermontConstitution to priceless papers from Thomas Jefferson and Ira andEthan Allen.

Not only was it below the floodplain, there were no windows, herecalls. And there were high pressure water lines and sewage lines. It was not what one would consider an ideal archival space, hesays wryly. From there the state s archives moved to Montpelier s historicRedstone building with the secretary of state s office, again to abasement but at least on a hill well above flood level — anda 10th of the size needed. A key piece of Sanford s work has been convincing the Legislatureand state officials to merge disparate public records functionsinto the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration,established by the Legislature in 2008. Neodymium Ring Magnets

A critical impetus was theincreasing digitization of records and the complex issues thatraised, says Sanford. He also was driven by a strong desire to unlock those records for the public. The archivist s job is pretty simple at the most basic level: Whatdo you save, and what do you throw away. It s a problem anyonewho s ever moved has faced. It gets really complex when you re a state. Sintered SmCo Magnets Manufacturer

Quite frankly, not all records are equal. he says. Managingwhat to archive, and the technology of it, still animates him, headmits, noting that he s been known to go on about thingsarchival. The complexities of records and record keeping have undergoneenormous expansion in recent years, forcing probing thought byagencies like his with limited resources. Records, he notes, oncewere vellum and parchment, then paper and photocopies. Alnico Permanent Magnets

Now inever-more rapid progression we have migrated onto tapes and floppydiscs and CDs and who knows what s next. He cites a figure that 5percent or 6 percent of all the energy used in the world is used bycomputers. His office now has 13 full-time and several grant positions,including four people whose sole job is to try and figure outrational ways to decide what to preserve and how to manage andpreserve it with document management systems. Sanford admits it can sound boring as hell but the historian inhim flips back to the excitement in it all, even after 30 years.

Archives, whether records of court decisions or governor sthinking or policy decisions, are all about context and he cancite example after example where he went into archival records thatprovided perspective that informed modern debates, from civilunions to fuel shortages to methane digesters and universal healthcoverage. That s part of what I wanted to do, to get the context outthere, he explains. To the degree that I touched people s lives, yes, I m verypleased I did my job, he says.


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