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Initiation

From the beginning of this initiative, the Secretary of State and his staff were clear that the primary value of a statewide digital archives was public service, not cost savings. The service value extended to a broad range of citizens, as well as state and local government agencies. The Office of the Secretary of State and the State Archives staff were thoroughly committed to their constitutional role as custodians of the publics’ records. They recognized that they needed to apply archival information science principles to digital media in order to provide easier and more permanent access to the records. The WSDA would simply be an extension of the existing State Archives itself into the digital domain, with new information technology as the enabler.

The main responsibility for initiating the project and communicating the value and strategy for the WSDA resided with Secretary Reed and a few key staff members. Steve Excell, Assistant Secretary of State, had the main management responsibility for the project. The team included the State Archivist, and later the lead technology developer, Adam Jansen. The State Archivist at the time of Secretary Reed’s election, Phillip Coombs, was active in the early stages of the WSDA initiative, but died in mid-2001. Jerry Handfield, the former Indiana State Archivist, was hired shortly thereafter and became a key part of the WSDA project team.