Public or Private? Reconsidering Ownership and Value of State Legislators’ Papers
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Unlike congressional and presidential papers collections, which have a rich archival literature in support of their acquisition and management, archivists and researchers frequently overlook and undervalue state legislators’ papers. One reason for undervaluing state legislators’ papers is the lack of legal guidelines in most states for ownership of these political papers. This article presents the results of a broad survey of state laws and collecting policies within state archives regarding the collecting of state legislators’ papers. Overall, archivists, lawmakers, and the general public need to become more aware of the value of state legislators’ papers, pass laws that protect and define ownership of state legislators’ papers, and advocate for greater collaboration between state archival programs and other archival repositories to ensure their preservation.