Governor Bob Riley’s Digital Photographs Now Live on Preservica

Digital photographs from Governor Bob Riley’s administration went live in the Alabama Department of Archives and History Electronic Records Collections on November 22, 2019, joining Governor Riley’s electronic office files. This site provides access to born-digital records through Preservica, a cloud-based subscription service that stores and migrates electronic file formats to ensure their long-term preservation.

Robert Renfroe “Bob” Riley was born in Talladega, Alabama in 1944. He grew up in the small town of Ashland, Alabama, where his family had worked on ranches and farms for six generations. In 1962, he graduated from Clay County High School and went on to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Alabama. He married his high school sweetheart, Patsy Adams, whose father owned a drugstore down the street from the Riley’s family store in Ashland. Upon his graduation in 1965, Riley returned to his hometown to sell eggs door-to-door and ultimately grow several small businesses, including a car dealership, a trucking company, a real estate company, a grocery store, and a small pharmacy. In his first political stint, he served on the Ashland City Council from 1972 until 1976.

In 1996, after a long break from politics, Riley began his first of three terms as a Republican in the United States House of Representatives. In Alabama’s 2002 primary for governor, he defeated Tim James, the son of former governor Fob James. In the general election, he narrowly defeated the democratic incumbent, Don Siegelman, to become the 52nd governor of Alabama.

In his first term, Riley focused on tax reform. His Amendment One tax package would have provided income tax breaks for lower tax brackets and increased taxes for higher brackets. Amendment One passed in the legislature but was rejected by voters. Riley persisted, working with the legislature to raise the income level at which individuals had to begin paying state income tax.

Education was another high priority of Riley’s administration. By executive order, he established the Governor’s Education Spending Commission to make recommendations for improvements in education. Although the legislature did not act on most of the commission’s recommendations, Riley did obtain increased funding for reading initiatives and distance learning programs.

In his second term, Riley endeavored to end conflicts of interest in the Alabama State Board of Education’s supervision of the community college system. He enacted a policy in 2008 to prohibit state community college employees from legislative service.

To improve economic conditions, he established the Black Belt Action Committee and worked to attract new business to the state, such as Hyundai in Montgomery and ThyssenKrupp in Mobile. He opposed gambling and used raids and legal action to shut down state-regulated electronic-bingo casinos.

In 2011, shortly after Governor Riley left office, his administration transferred paper and electronic records, including over 1.58 terabytes of digital photographs and videos. Because of the Office of the Governor’s historical significance, each administration’s permanent records are transferred to the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) at the end of the gubernatorial term.

Processing Governor Riley’s photographs required extensive “weeding.” Have you ever used “burst mode” with a phone camera to take several photos within a single second? Or have you taken twenty nearly identical pictures to get the perfect photo for Instagram? You wouldn’t want to keep every single one of these highly similar photos. Likewise, many of Riley’s photos were duplicates or alternate shots of the same person at the same event. The ADAH removed photographs that were blurry or duplicates so that researchers using Preservica will have to sort through less bulk.

Riley made hundreds of public appearances during his tenure. He publicly signed bills, presented proclamations, and made speeches like the annual State of the State Address. He spoke at a variety of venues, from schools, to businesses, to local rotary clubs. He participated in annual events like the Thanksgiving Turkey Pardoning and the Christmas Tree Lighting. He also responded to crises in the state. Photographs of these events and others document not only Governor Riley, but the history of Alabama.

Ready to start researching?

  • Access Governor Riley’s Chief of Staff, Policy Office, and Press Office files with the ADAH Electronic Records Collections.
  • Access Governor Riley’s digital photographs in the ADAH Electronic Records Collections.
  • Access Governor Riley’s paper records in the ADAH Research Room. Paper records include clipping files, scheduling files, administrative files, correspondence files, project files, legal subject files, execution files, and more.

Sources:

Alabama Governors: A Political History of the State. 2nd edition. Edited by Samuel L. Webb and Margaret E. Armbrester. University of Alabama Press, 2014.

“Bob Riley.” Alabama Governors. Alabama Department of Archives and History. https://archives.alabama.gov/govs_list/riley.html

This initiative was supported in part by a National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) grant to the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) and the Office of the Governor.

Updates from the Local Government Records Commission

The Local Government Records Commission (LGRC) met on October 30, 2019 at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. The Code of Alabama 1975 § 41-13-21 charges the Commission with determining “which government records shall be permanently preserved…and which may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of.” The Commission meets every April and October to approve local government Records Disposition Authorities, or RDAs. These documents outline the records that local agencies create, identify which records should be preserved permanently, and provide disposition procedures for all other records.

Obsolete Records Destruction

At the meeting, Records Management staff reported on authorized local records destruction. In fiscal year 2019, local governments submitted 761 destruction notices, totaling 37,955.31 cubic feet of obsolete records. While local governments are not required to destroy obsolete records, doing so allows governments to better focus their limited resources.

The three counties submitting notices the most frequently were Mobile County, Madison County, and Shelby County. Records Management staff conducted a large-scale training session in Huntsville early in the year, educating department managers on records law in Alabama.

County Probate Offices accounted for 27 of 74 notices and received permission to destroy 11,108.77 cubic feet (nearly 30% of the total cubic feet destroyed in fiscal year 2019).

Systematic records management supports an organization’s mission, operations, and activities. Records Management staff offer free on-site training on records disposal and other records management topics, such as the preservation of permanent records, to local government agencies. To schedule training, contact Rebecca Hebert, State and Local Records Coordinator, at becky.hebert@archives.alabama.gov.

Reformatted RDAs on the ADAH Website

The Local Government RDAs on the Alabama Department of Archives and History website have been reformatted and standardized. New indices at the end of each RDA list the page number corresponding to every record series. Because RDA record numbers may change as revisions occur, local officials should be sure to consult the most updated version of the RDA when requesting authorization to destroy records.

Any records not present may not be destroyed until the RDA has been revised to include them. If you find that a record is not covered by the RDA, contact Rebecca Hebert at becky.hebert@archives.alabama.gov.

In calendar year 2019, the LGRC approved 25 revisions or additions to Local Government RDAs.

Revised Local RDAs

The Local Government Records Commission approved revisions to the following local record series:

All or multiple local RDAs

  • “Affordable Care Act Compliance Files” (new record series for all local RDAs)

Employers are required to submit documentation to the federal government to demonstrate their compliance with the Affordance Care Act. RDAs previously did not address this documentation. In accordance with federal requirements, these records should be retained for three years after submission.

  • “Purchasing Records” (revised record series for all local RDAs)

Previously, some RDAs described this series as including “invoices for goods” and others as “invoices for services.” The description is now “invoices for goods and services” in order to broaden the scope and establish consistency across RDAs. The retention remains two years after audit.

  • “Applications and Exemptions for Utility Fee Exemptions” (revised record series for County Commissions and Municipalities RDAs)

The previous description of these records was limiting, addressing only sanitation fee exemptions. The series now addresses all utility fee exemptions. The retention remains two years following audit.

  • “Utility Equipment Rebates” (new record series for County Commissions and Municipalities RDAs)

These records document rebates which public utility companies may issue to encourage the installation, purchase, and/or use of certain utility equipment, such as water heaters and environmentally friendly appliances. The retention is two years after audit.

Boards of Education

Alabama’s local boards of education offer a free public education to every Alabama child in grades kindergarten through twelfth grade.

  • “Internal Ballots and Related Files” (New record series)

These records document the use of internal secret ballots for purposes such as electing members of budget committees and approving the budget for state allocation funds. The retention is three years.

  • “School Bus Student Rosters” (Revised record series title and description)

The previous description of these records was limiting. These records provide a list of all students on the bus arranged by morning stop number. Information in the records may include, but is not limited to, each student’s name, grade/age, morning and afternoon pick-up/drop-off time, and emergency phone number. The retention remains one year after the current school year ends.

  • “Student Transportation Arrangements and Related Files” (New record series)

These records document student transportation arrangements authorized by parents/guardians, such as whether students will ride the bus, drive a personal vehicle, or ride with other students to and from school. The retention is one year after the end of the school year in which the records were created.

County Commissions

The County Commission RDA originally covered all functions administered by county government; RDAs have since been created to cover more specific subdivisions such as County Boards of Registrars, County Probate Offices, County Taxation Offices, and Law Enforcement Agencies.

The County Commission RDA contains records covering policy, revenue collection, utility and sanitation, roads and bridges, public transportation, senior services, community development, zoning, licensing, animal control, emergency management, and routine administering operations.

  •  “Structural Condemnation Files” (New record series)

These records document the government’s determination that buildings within their respective jurisdictions are not structurally sound. The retention is five years after destruction of the building.

Law Enforcement Agencies

Local law enforcement agencies prevent, control, and reduce crime; enforce criminal law and apprehend criminals; monitor the activities of the courts and related agencies having criminal jurisdiction; and ensure public safety.

  • “Background Investigation Files” (Revised record series description)

Previously, the description only addressed background checks conducted for employment purposes. Background checks may also be performed for purposes such as housing. Moreover, law enforcement agencies may not be notified whether applicant checks are successful, a distinction previously necessary for destruction. The series now includes both successful and unsuccessful applicant files and background checks for purposes beyond employment.

  • “Inmate Commissary Files” (New record series)

These records document the request for and receipt of goods from the commissary of a correctional facility. The retention is one year.

  •  “Investigation Files (including internal affairs files)” (Revised record series description)

Previously, the retention of these records was based on the nature of the criminal offense committed. Officers may conduct investigations of deaths unconnected to a crime, such as vehicular accidents and suicides. The revision adds “death investigations” as a record type with a retention of twenty-five years after the investigation is closed.

  • “Sex Offender Registration Records” (Revised record series description)

This retention is currently phrased “5 years after residence in the county ends.” The revised description clarifies that law enforcement agencies may also destroy Sex Offender Registration files after five years following the verification of the offender’s death.

Municipalities

In the United States, “municipalities” are understood to be a city, town, or other unit of local government authorized by the state constitution or state statute. Examples of core municipal government entities include mayor’s offices, city councils, city managers, and city clerks. Municipalities also include a variety of functions such as parks and recreation, utilities, sanitation, maintenance of streets and bridges, public transportation, licensing, permitting, and zoning.

  • “Property Assessment Requests” (New record series)

These records document requests by attorneys and/or property owners for information on whether any property fees are owed to the municipality. The retention is three years.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Local Government Records Commission will be held on April 22, 2020 in the Regions Room at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.