Preserving Alabama’s Musical Heritage: The Alabama State Council on the Arts Processing Project

In early June 2019, ADAH Appraisal and Collections staff teamed up to process records from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. The records came from the office of Folklife Specialist Steve Grauberger, who served on the Council from 1998 until his retirement in 2017. As part of the Council’s mission to promote arts activities in Alabama, Mr. Grauberger recorded musical performances at churches, rehearsals, conventions, and other cultural events. His most significant contributions are hundreds of hours of field recordings of gospel and other folk music.

Alabama is to gospel what Mississippi is to the blues. No other state has such a rich, active, and well-documented tradition of gospel music. Perhaps the most significant part of this collection is its field recordings from the Sand Mountain and Wiregrass regions of Alabama, two hotbeds of gospel singing. One can hear diverse musical styles in these regions, from bluegrass, to gospel, to blues, to shape-note music.

Shape-Note Music from Wiregrass and Sand Mountain

There are two shape-note systems of singing: four-shape or “Fa-So-La,” and seven-shape or “Do-Re-Mi.” Sacred Harp uses the four-shape system and is performed a capella (voice only, without instruments). Unlike standard musical notation, Sacred Harp music uses printed shapes – ovals, diamonds, squares, and triangles – to help untrained singers read the music. Sacred Harp singers sit in a square with bass, alto, tenor, and soprano parts facing each other on each side. The National Sacred Harp Singing Convention is held in Alabama every June and draws singers from all over the United States.

Sacred Harp flourishes in both the Wiregrass and Sand Mountain regions of Alabama. Named for its tall native grass, the Wiregrass region in southeast Alabama – particularly the cities of Troy and Ozark – is the epicenter of African-American gospel.  Mr. Grauberger recorded extensively in this region.

Seven-shape note music is lesser known than Sacred Harp, yet extremely influential. Sand Mountain, a region spanning from northeast Alabama to southwestern Georgia, is a hub for both Sacred Harp and seven-shape note congregational hymn singing. Many popular hymns derive from this tradition, including “I’ll Fly Away,” “Victory in Jesus,” and “Standing on the Promises.” The collection features ample seven-shape field recordings and songbooks.

Gospel, Bluegrass, Blues, and Other Folk Music

Other highlights of the collection include the following field recordings:

  • Jubilee singers in the Jefferson County Quartet tradition, including but not limited to the Ensley Jubilee Singers, the Delta Aires Quartet, and the Shelby County Big Four.
  • The Sullivan Family Band: Margie and Enoch Sullivan and their family of St. Stephens, Alabama performed bluegrass gospel for over fifty years.
  • Blues guitarist J.W. Warren; blues harmonica player David Johnson, and blues one-man band Sonny Boy King.
  • Fiddler Noah Lacy of Jackson County, Alabama.
  • The Baldwin County Polka Band.
  • Mariachi Garibaldi of Montgomery, Alabama. (Fun Fact: Mariachi Garibaldi performed at the grand opening of the Alabama Department of Archives and History’s “Alabama Voices” exhibition in February of 2014.)

Processing the Collection

Folklife field recordings from the Alabama State Council on the Arts contain a variety of formats, from digital audio tapes (DAT), to cassettes, to compact discs (CDs), with performance recordings from as early as 1927 to as recent as 2015. Most of the recordings are audio recordings, but some consist of photographs and videos. After conducting an initial survey of the records, ADAH staff divided the field recordings by physical format and arranged them chronologically. We separated publicity records, including radio shows and other productions produced by the Council.

Explore Alabama Folklife

Researchers interested in Alabama folk culture and music can explore the Alabama Department of Archives and History’s Archive of Alabama Folk Culture (AAFC). The AAFC features fieldwork gathered by the Alabama Folklife Association, a partner program of the Alabama State Council on the Arts, and the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture, a division of the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

Researchers can access the most recent materials from the Alabama State Council on the Arts by visiting the Research Room at ADAH. While Reference staff are unable to provide access to some format types (DAT and reel-to-reel recordings, for example), they can provide access to the bulk of the collection. We recommend contacting Reference staff ahead of your visit to ensure that proper equipment is on hand.

References

Brennan, Grey. Henagar: The Sound of (Sacred Harp) music. Sweet Home Alabama. Retrieved from https://alabama.travel/road-trips/henagar-the-sound-of-sacred-harp-music

Mahala Church, Mobile, Alabama (2009, August 24). National Sacred Harp Singing Convention, Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved from http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-2416

Olliff, Martin T. (2018, November 29). Wiregrass region. Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved from http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-4048

Reyes, Luisa Kay (2019, March 5). Southern shapes. Alabama Bicentennial. Retrieved from http://alabama200.org/media/bicentennial-blog/southern-shapes

Willett, Henry (1995, April). Voices raised, singing praise: Two centuries of sacred sounds in Alabama. Alabama State Council on the Arts. Retrieved from http://arts.alabama.gov/traditional_culture/folkwaysarticles/VOICESRAISED.aspx

Meet the Staff Feature: Michael Grissett

For the Record’s “Meet the Staff” feature is an opportunity for our archivists to connect directly with the community which we serve.

Name: Michael Grissett

Title: Records Center Archivist

Specialties: Operational Organization, Procedure and Work Flow Design, Risk Management

How did you end up working at the Alabama Department of Archives and History?

I have had a lifelong fascination with History, Geography, and other social sciences. I initially studied Engineering at Auburn University but ultimately pursued my passion and graduated with a degree in history. I have been working at the State Records Center since mid-October of 2018, and I think the position is a perfect fit for me.

What is something you enjoy about working in records management?

It’s exciting to work at a critical junction in the operation of state government. While the staff at the Records Center is small relative to the other divisions within the Archives, the work here keeps us on our feet and gives me a firsthand look at the immediate and long-term challenges of preserving paper records.

What exactly does the Records Center do that is different from the bulk of the Records Management Section?

The State Records Center coordinates with state agencies to store, file, re-file, deliver, and destroy temporary records on the agencies’ behalf. The division was established in the late 1980s in response to the lack of temporary records storage options at the state level. In essence, we interact with the bulk of records which state agencies may not use on a daily basis, but which they are nonetheless legally required to maintain. Unlike the bulk of the Records Management Section, the Records Center directly handles agencies’ temporary records being moved and stored, from Delivery to Disposition.

Doesn’t electronic record creation and storage render your service unnecessary?

One may think that, but many agencies continue to create and retain a large volume of paper records. Electronic records are easier to access and require less physical storage space, but they are more susceptible to security breaches. Paper records maintained at a secure location permit sensitive information to be preserved and accessed when necessary, without the risk of electronic data breaches that can be expensive to prepare for and recover from.  

What are your hobbies when you are not at work?

I like to read on current and past events, cook, play the drums, hang out with friends, and play video games when not at work.

Newspaper Preservation

Guest Contributor: Mary Clare Johnson, Collections Archivist, Alabama Department of Archives and History

Many of us collect and keep newspapers and clippings as souvenirs of historical and personal importance; however, these ephemeral objects are not meant to last forever and have an expected lifespan of 50 years or less. They require special care and proper storage to outlast their impermanent lifespans.

They are usually printed on inexpensive, poor-quality paper made from unpurified wood pulp. This type of paper has a chemically unstable nature that causes it to become discolored, brittle, and acidic over time and to eventually disintegrate. Exposure to light, high humidity, and atmospheric pollutants hastens this disintegration. There are steps you can take, however, to preserve a beloved newspaper and lessen damage.

The first step in preserving your newspaper is to decide whether to store it lying flat folded or unfolded. When thinking about this decision, consider two questions:

  • Will unfolding pages cause damage along the fold lines?
  • Do you have enough room to store it flat?

Some experts recommend storing it unfolded, while others maintain that it should be folded in half (the way it looks when sold). Do whatever causes the least harm.

When storing your newspapers, avoid using these damaging materials:

  • Paper clips and staples, which rust and leave a stain as they deteriorate
  • Rubber bands, which degrade and stick
  • Glue or tape, as the adhesive will eventually leave stains
  • Lamination, as the plastic will permanently damage your newsprint and is an irreversible process

Keeping newspapers and clippings in boxes will prevent exposure to dirt, dust, and light, which cause newsprint to darken and become more brittle and the ink to fade over time. The size of the box should be close to the size of the materials it contains. It should not be made of standard cardboard, which tends to be acidic. It should be acid-free, lignin-free, buffered, and have a lid the same depth as the base. Buffered means that an alkaline (non-acidic) buffer has been added to the box to neutralize the acids given off by the newsprint so that the box will last longer. Clearly label the box with the titles and dates of the contents to prevent unnecessary handling.

If saving more than one complete newspaper, have a folder for each one that is acid-free, lignin-free, and buffered. If saving several sheets or numerous clippings, you may need more than one folder because you don’t want to overstuff the folders. In addition, some experts recommend inserting an acid-free, alkaline-buffered sheet of tissue paper between each page for further protection. Keeping pages pressed together with no buffer allows acid to spread and cause further damage to them. A cheaper alternative is acid-free tissue paper with no alkaline buffer. It reduces the risk of increasing the newspaper’s acidity but doesn’t prevent the spread of acid between pages.

Store the boxes in a cool, dry, and dark place in the main part of your house where temperatures and humidity levels stay relatively stable, such as a closet, under your bed, or a file cabinet drawer. Do not place boxes near radiators or vents. Basements, garages, and attics are not suitable because they can experience drastic temperature and humidity swings. Dampness can encourage the growth of mold and attract insects. Heat accelerates the chemical process that causes newsprint to deteriorate.

Routinely check to make sure your storage area is clean and dust-free. The more stable the environment, the longer newsprint will last. Also, make sure your storage box does not include other types of materials, such as letters, photographs, or books. The acidity of newsprint can cause permanent damage and stains to other materials.

Preserving your original newspaper is great but remember that the content is more important than the object itself. To preserve the content and minimize handling of the original, make a high-resolution scan and store the images on your computer and a USB flash drive. Then you can print copies of the scanned images for everyday use and display. Regular copy/printer paper will be more chemically stable and durable and will far outlive newsprint when stored in a stable environment. If you are concerned that scanning the newspaper will cause great harm, a library or archive can help you locate a microfilm copy or digitized version of your paper.

When it comes to display, it is best to frame a copy of your scanned newspaper and not display the original because of the damage caused by sunlight and fluorescent light. If you really want to display the original, it should be framed using acid-free backing board and kept away from windows. The frame should have special glass that blocks harmful ultraviolet (UV) light.

It is important to remember that the inherent acids in newspapers will continue to break them down slowly. If you want to ensure their long-term survival, you can consult a professional paper conservator who can neutralize these harmful acids through a process called deacidification. Available conservators can be found on the American Institute for Conservation website. Keep in mind, however, that their services will likely run into the hundreds of dollars.

While there are many threats to the survival of newsprint, proper preventative measures will help it last for many years.

Below is a list of archival quality supplies:

Box for clippingsGaylord Archival Blue/Grey Barrier Board Flip-Top Document Case
Box for folded newspapersGaylord Archival Blue/Grey Barrier Board Drop-Front Deep Lid Print Box
Box for unfolded
newspapers
Gaylord Archival Tan Barrier Board Drop-Front Newspaper/Print Box
Folders for clippingsGaylord Archival Reinforced Full 1” Tab Legal Size File Folders

Gaylord Archival Reinforced Full 1” Tab Letter Size File Folders
Folders for folded or
unfolded newspapers
Gaylord Archival Oversize Newspaper File Folders
Buffered tissue paperGaylord Archival Buffered Acid-Free Tissue
Unbuffered tissue paperGaylord Archival Unbuffered Acid-Free Tissue
Frame kit for clippings or
newspapers
Gaylord Archival Simply Black Collection Wood Frame Kit with 1.25” Molding
Preservation kit for folded or
unfolded newspapers
Gaylord Archival Newspaper Preservation Kit

References

American Library Association (2015, March 3). Digitizing old newspapers. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/alcts/preservationweek/advice/digitalnewspaper

American Library Association (2017, March 30). Storing old letters and newspaper clippings. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/alcts/preservationweek/advice/storingpapers

Archival Methods [Screen name]. (2016, April 5). Archival solution of the week: Newspaper & magazine storage kits. Retrieved from https://www.archivalmethods.com/blog/newspaper-magazine-storage-kits/

Archival Methods [Screen name]. (2015, October 22). Preserving: Archivally storing old newspapers. Retrieved from https://www.archivalmethods.com/blog/storing-old-newspapers/

How to preserve your Obama victory newspaper. (2008, November 7). San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved from https://www.sfgate.com/

Library of Congress. (n.d.). Preservation measures for newspapers. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/preservation/care/newspap.html

Lockshin, N. (2012, January 12). How do I preserve my newspaper? Retrieved from https://siarchives.si.edu/what-we-do/forums/collections-care-guidelines-resources/how-do-i-preserve-my-newspaper

Northeast Document Conservation Center. (n.d.) Caring for private and family collections. Retrieved from https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preserving-private-and-family-collections/caring-for-private-and-family-collections

Ritzenthaler, M. L. (2016). Preserving newspaper clippings. Prologue Magazine, 48(1). Retrieved from https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2016/spring/preserve-clippings.html 

Tobey, D. A. (2001). Preserving history: Here’s how to keep that historic newspaper for years to come [PDF file]. Retrieved from http://www.mnhs.org/preserve/conservation/reports/nytimes_preserving.pdf

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. (n.d.). How can I preserve an important edition of a newspaper? Retrieved from https://www.archives.gov/preservation/holdings-maintenance/newspaper.html

For further information on aspects of preservation, here are some resources:

Library of Congress: Collections Care https://www.loc.gov/preservation/care/index.html

National Park Service: Conserve O Grams https://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/conserveogram/cons_toc.html

Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC): Preservation Leaflets https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/overview

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration: Preservation https://www.archives.gov/preservation

Getting to Know the Local Government Records Commission

If you have ever enrolled in a public school, checked out a book from the public library, registered your car with the DMV, or received a parking ticket, you have been involved in the creation of local government records. Local records promote government transparency and may have future historical or research significance.

The Local Government Records Commission (LGRC) determines which records have permanent value and which may be destroyed. Established in 1987, the Commission consists of sixteen members. The Governor appoints ten members, including a representative from a historically black college or university; one probate judge who is not a chairman of a county commission; one chairman of a county commission who is not a probate judge; one county administrator; one county taxation official; two city clerks; one superintendent of a county or municipal school system; one county sheriff; and one municipal police chief. Another two representatives come from Auburn University and the University of Alabama. The remaining four members are ex officio and include the Director of the Department of Archives and History, the Chief Examiner of the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State. More information about the creation and composition of the LGRC is available on the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) website.

The LGRC is responsible for issuing retention guidelines and other regulations for local government records based on their evidential, informational, and historical value. The Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) Records Management staff support the LGRC by conducting surveys of public records created by counties, municipalities, and other agencies of local government and developing retention schedules (more formally known as Records Disposition Authorities or RDAs) and by offering records management training. The RDA designates which records are temporary and permanent and gives local governments the authority to destroy temporary records after a specified amount of time, or retention period.

Unlike state agencies, most local agencies do not have their own RDAs. Instead, there are generic RDAs for the following types of government entities:

  • 911 Emergency Communications Districts
  • Archives and Museums
  • Boards of Education
  • County Commission
  • County Boards of Registrars
  • County Probate Offices
  • County Taxation Offices
  • Emergency Management Agencies
  • Fire Departments
  • Health Care Authorities
  • Law Enforcement Agencies
  • Municipalities
  • Public Libraries
  • Racing Commissions
  • Regional Planning Commissions

Local governments use the appropriate RDA to determine which of their temporary records are eligible for destruction. The responsible local official submits a Local Government Records Destruction Notice to ADAH to receive a letter of eligibility. Local agencies are legally obligated to report destruction to the LGRC. See our website and our blog post “Local Government Records Destruction 101” for more detailed instructions. 

Local governments who identify records outside the current scope of the RDA can submit a request to ADAH Records Management archivists for review and presentation to the LGRC at one of two annual meetings in April and October.

As the support staff for the LGRC, ADAH assists local governments not only with temporary record destruction but also with the preservation of permanent records. ADAH offers free on-site advice about permanent record housing, storage and shelving, security, environmental control, and disaster preparedness and on long-term preservation planning for electronic records.

If you have questions about the Local Government Records Commission, would like more information about local RDAs, or would like to schedule on-site training, please contact Rebecca Hebert at becky.hebert@archives.alabama.gov.

Meet the Staff Feature: Katie Ray

For the Record’s “Meet the Staff” feature is an opportunity for our archivists to connect directly with the community which we serve.

Name: Katie Ray

Title: Records Management Archivist 

Specialties: Electronic Records, Records Disposition Authority (RDA) revision

How did you end up working at the Alabama Department of Archives and History?

I got hooked on archives as an undergraduate when I had the opportunity to study abroad in Paris and intern at a small literary archive. I subsequently interned at the Library of Congress and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, my alma mater. I returned to Alabama to pursue my master’s in Library and Information Studies with a certification in Archival Studies and accepted this position soon after completing the program.

What is your role?

As a Records Management Archivist, I help to develop and revise state agency RDAs which regulate record preservation and destruction. I am also the Project Archivist for the Department’s ongoing grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to preserve born-digital materials on our new electronic records portal, Preservica (https://adah.access.preservica.com/). I collect and process State Publications from the past twenty years so that our Collections Archivists can make them publicly accessible.

What is the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) Grant?

In 2017, the Alabama Department of Archives and History received grant funding from the NHPRC to increase its institutional capacity to receive, preserve, and provide access to electronic records. The grant began with a partnership with the Office of the Governor, encompassing documents such as emails, photographs, and calendars, and has since extended to the collection of electronic records such as newsletters, bulletins, and annual reports from all state agencies.

What’s your superpower?

As a previous English major, research and writing is my forte. “Easy reading requires hard writing.” I make heavy revisions so that my message is clear and concise.

What are your hobbies when you are not at work? 

I enjoy cooking, knitting, yoga, hiking, playing League of Legends, and seeking out the best cup of coffee in every city I visit. I play the clarinet and am trying to pick it back up after a long hiatus. 

Local Government Records Destruction: Avoid Common Errors

When submitting your Local Government Records Destruction Notice to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, avoiding common errors will help the Archives staff process and return your destruction notice more quickly.

For detailed instructions on completing a Local Government Records Destruction Notice, please visit our blog titled “Local Government Records Destruction 101.”

Use a Records Disposition Authority

The place to start when filling out a local government destruction notice is the Records Disposition Authority (RDA), starting with identifying the correct RDA for your locality (ex. Municipalities, County Commissions, County Probate Offices, Boards of Education, Law Enforcement Agencies, etc.)

In the Records Disposition Authority (RDA), the third section lists the types of records your locality creates and the minimal amount of time the records must be maintained; however, local governments are permitted to keep records longer than the time interval specified. You will use the information found in the RDA to complete page two of the Local Government Records Destruction Notice.

Identify and List Record Type, Number, and Retention – Do NOT List Records as “Joe’s Desk Drawer”

Inheriting a basement full of boxes labeled “Joe’s Desk Drawer,” or “Misc.” is frustrating; however, if you list “Joe’s Desk Drawer” or “Miscellaneous” on a destruction notice, Archives’ staff cannot determine if these records are in fact eligible for destruction. Because you have access to these records, you must identify the record type(s) in that box. Are these files “Accounting Records,” “Routine Correspondence,” “Administrative Reference Files,” or “Project Files?”

Each record type should be listed on page two of the Local Government Records Destruction Notice with the corresponding retention and number. Also note that some record types may be broken into its components (ex. 16.05a, 16.05b, 16.05c). Being specific and completing all columns on page two (RDA Record #, Records Title as Shown on RDA, Date Span, Retention as Shown on RDA, Date Audited, and Volume) will eliminate the need for follow-up phone calls that delay approval.

Understand “Date Audited Field”

Some retentions are dependent on audit date. For the “Date Audited” field on page two, do not automatically list your local government’s most recent audit. We need to know when the records you want to destroy were made available for audit. For example, if records originally produced in 2008 were audited in 2010, the agency should write 2010 in this field, as this was the audit cycle in which the 2008 records were made available. Even if these records weren’t pulled for the audit, we need to know when they were made available.

If the retention does not mention an audit (ex. “Retain 3 years”), put N/A for Not Applicable.

Include Appropriate Signature

Don’t forget to have your locality’s destruction notice signed. The signature can be completed in ink and scanned or electronically signed in Adobe PDF. Typing in the name does not count as an electronic signature. In addition to the signature, also include the name and title of the authorizing official who has signed the destruction notice.

For schools, the notice must be signed by the Superintendent of Education for your district, in accordance with Alabama Department of Education policy.

For Assistance

Proper destruction allows local governments to focus limited resources on vital, essential, and historical records important to citizens. ADAH staff are here to assist your local government in identifying which records are eligible for destruction and to aid in the preservation of your local government’s permanent records.

For questions, please email Becky.Hebert@archives.alabama.gov.

Local Government Records Destruction 101

Is your local government conducting a basement cleanup project, carrying out its annual destruction activities, or sorting through electronic files? Did you know that you must request authorization from the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) each time you plan to destroy local government records?

We have provided step-by-step instructions below to guide you through the process of completing and submitting a Local Government Records Destruction Notice.

After submitting a Local Government Records Destruction Notice to ADAH’s Records Management Section, your local government will receive a Letter of Eligibility verifying whether the records are eligible for destruction. After receiving the eligibility letter from ADAH, you may then proceed with records destruction.

Guide to Completing and Submitting a Local Government Records Destruction Notice

Access the Local Government Records Destruction Notice

Downloading and then opening the Local Government Records Destruction Notice in Adobe Acrobat Reader will allow your local government agency to complete the form electronically. Hover the mouse over blank fields on the form for detailed instructions in completing each part. You may also print the form and fill it out manually, if preferred.

Reference the Sample Completed Destruction Notice

The Sample Completed Local Government Records Destruction Notice  clarifies the types of information requested for each specific field.

Identify the Appropriate Retention Schedule

Select the correct Records Disposition Authority (RDA) for your locality (ex. Municipalities, County Commissions, County Probate Offices, Boards of Education, Law Enforcement Agencies, etc.).

The third section of the Records Disposition Authority (RDA) lists the types of records your locality creates and the minimal amount of time to maintain records; however, local governments are permitted to keep records longer than the time interval specified.

The records listing will help you in determining if records are eligible for destruction; furthermore, information found in the RDA will be used to complete page two of the Local Government Records Destruction Notice, as described in more detail below.

Complete the Contact Information Section (Page 1, Section 1)

The first section of the Local Government Records Destruction Notice consists of contact information. The individual listed at the top of the Destruction Notice will be the primary point of contact for any questions. Anyone who needs to be copied on the Letter of Eligibility returned by records management staff may be included in the secondary box.

Complete Manner of Destruction, Approximate Date, and Type of Retention Schedule (Page 1, Section 2)

    • Identify how records will be destroyed (ex. shredded, burned, etc.).
    • Specify the approximate date for when you plan to destroy the records.
    • Notate which Record Disposition Authority (RDA) your local government used (ex. Municipalities, County Commissions, County Probate Offices, Boards of Education, Law Enforcement Agencies, etc.).
    • Delay entering the total volume being destroyed until after completing the second page.

Delay Adding a Signature until the End of the Process (Page 1, Section 3)

Identify who is the authorizing official to sign off on the destruction notice. The form should be signed after completion.

Complete the Section on Records to be Destroyed (Page 2)

  • “RDA Record #” Field

To find the record type, you will need to access the third section of the Records Disposition Authority (RDA) and determine if the record type(s) is/are eligible for destruction. Check ADAH’s Records Management website to make sure your local government has the most recent update of the RDA.

Identify the numerical code(s) in the records retention schedule that corresponds with the record type(s) eligible for destruction. Inclusion of the numerical codes will facilitate a timely review of your Notice by ADAH records management staff.

Important Note: If a record type has a multipart listing (i.e. 10.03A, 10.03B, etc.), please clarify to which record type your local government is referring, as the individual parts often have different retentions.

Tip: To easily search for a record type in the RDA, use Ctrl+F to pull up a search box that will allow for a word search.

  • “Records Title as Shown on RDA” Field

Use the appropriate RDA as listed above to find the record type. The records series title immediately follows the RDA number and will be shown in bold.

You may include variant titles that your local government uses to refer to the records in parentheses. For example, you may list “Routine Accounting Records” as the official title, but in parenthesis list “Cancelled Checks.”

Important Note: Each line should list only one record type regardless of the volume. For example, “Accounting Records” may be 50 cubic feet, whereas “Contracts” may only be .2 cubic feet.

Tip: Copies of the second page of the Local Government Records Destruction Notice may be included if necessary to document additional records requested for destruction.

  • “Date Span” Field

For each record type, include the year(s) in which these records were created (ex. 2016 or 1970-2005).

  • “Retention as shown on RDA” Field

Fill in the minimum records retention as listed on the RDA. This information helps determine if the records are eligible for destruction.

  • “Date Audited” Field 

Some minimum retentions are dependent upon an audit date. If the retention in the RDA mentions an audit date (ex. “Retain 2 years following audit”), identify when these records were made available for audit.

Note: Do not list your local government’s most recent audit. Please include when the records being listed on the destruction notice were made available for audit.

Example: Let us consider a local government that has been audited in 2010 and 2017. The local government is submitting a destruction notice that includes records whose minimum retention is “Retain 2 years following audit” and which were originally produced in 2008. The agency should write “2010” in this field, as this was the audit cycle in which the 2008 records were made available.

If the retention does not mention an audit (ex. “Retain 3 years”), put N/A for Not Applicable.

  • “Volume” Field

Paper Records

Paper Records
List how many cubic feet are being
destroyed for each record type
1 Box of Copy Paper1 Cubic Foot
1 Banker’s Box2 Cubic Feet
1 Legal-Sized File Drawer2 Cubic Feet
Fifty 100 Foot 35mm Microfilm1 Cubic Foot
3×5 Cards, Ten 12″ Rows1 Cubic Foot
3 Large Bound Volumes1.5 Cubic Feet

Electronic Records


Electronic Records

List how many bytes (B, KB, MB, GB, TB, or PB)
are being destroyed.
1 Byte (B)8 Bits
1 Kilobyte (KB)1,024 Bytes
1 Megabyte (MB)1,024 Kilobytes
1 Gigabyte (GB)1,024 Megabytes
1 Terabyte (TB)1,024 Gigabytes
1 Petabyte (PB)1,024 Terabytes

Complete the Total Records Destroyed (Page 1, Section 2)

Add up the total in the volume column on the second page. Then, go back to the first page and enter the total cubic feet of obsolete paper records destroyed and/or the total bytes of obsolete electronic records destroyed.

Complete the Signature Section (Page 1, Section 3)

Have the authorizing official sign the destruction notice. The notice form may be signed electronically. Alternatively, the form may be printed and signed. Please remember to include the printed name and title of the authorizing official as well.

Note: For schools, the notice must be signed by the Superintendent of Education for your district, in accordance with Alabama Department of Education policy.

Submit your completed Local Government Records Destruction Notice via Email

Email the Local Government Records Destruction Notice as an attachment to the Records Management Section of the Alabama Department of Archives and History at becky.hebert@archives.alabama.gov.

Please include a subject line such as “Local Government Records Destruction Notice” and a signature line so that our staff are sure to distinguish your local government email from spam..

Wait for an Email including the “Letter of Eligibility” from the Records Management Section

Notices filled out correctly may be returned in a few days; however, those destruction notices with errors may take a few weeks to be processed. Your Letter of Eligibility will include a copy of your Local Government Records Destruction Notice.

Destroy Records in a Secure Manner

Employ secure destruction methods such as shredding or burning to ensure the complete destruction of confidential information.

Maintain a Copy of Your Letter of Eligibility and Destruction Notice

Your local government should keep a copy of the Letter of Eligibility and the Local Government Records Destruction Notice for your files to prove legal destruction of records.

Additional Information

For additional information on RDAs, please visit our blog post titled, “Records Disposition Authority: Roadmap for Records Retention.”