Reading room of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, early evening, 18 November 2009.Earlier this week, Governor Mark Sanford issued a series of vetoes that threaten the state's records management and cultural heritage institutions. The vetoes include three cuts to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (SCDAH) budget totaling $980,945; the State Legislature had approved a fiscal year 2010-2011 budget of $2,445, 764 in state funds plus $200,000 in stimulus funds for the agency for FY 2010-2011. Funding for the state's Confederate Relic Room and Military History Museum was eliminated entirely.
I know several archivists who work for SCDAH. All of them are whip-smart, devoted to their work, kind, and fun-loving, and I can't even begin to imagine how these cuts will impact their lives. However, the people of South Carolina will, in the long run, pay the greatest price. If allowed to stand, the governor's vetoes will make it all but impossible for SCDAH to fulfill its mission "to preserve and promote the documentary and cultural heritage of the state through archival care and preservation, records management, public access, historic preservation, and education." Anyone interested in ensuring government accountability, researching South Carolina ancestors, promoting meaningful and fact-based history education, or visiting historic sites is going to suffer as a result of these vetoes.
If you are a South Carolina resident and have used or plan to use SCDAH's programs or services, please contact your legislator and let him or her know how these cuts will affect you. Also, please contact Representative Dan Cooper, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee and Representative Chip Limehouse, who chairs the House subcommittee that deals with SCDAH. The Legislature will be in session on Tuesday, 15 June to consider Governor Sanford's vetoes, so time is of the essence.
If you are an out-of-state resident, consider contacting Cooper and Limehouse and letting them know that you have either used or plan to use SCDAH's resources and that cutting its services will eliminate your incentive to spend your lodging, restaurant, shopping, and transportation dollars in South Carolina.