TITLE 42
State Affairs and Government

CHAPTER 42-8.1
State Archives

SECTION 42-8.1-7


§ 42-8.1-7 Administration of state archives.

(a) The state archivist, whenever it appears to him or her to be in the public interest, is hereby authorized:

(1) To accept for deposit with the state archives the records of any state or local agency or of the general assembly that are determined to have sufficient historical or other value to warrant their continued preservation by the state archives;

(2) To direct and effect, with the approval of the head of the originating agency (or if the existence of such agency shall have been terminated, then with the approval of his or her successor in function, if any) the transfer of records of permanent legal or historical value to the archives of the state provided, that the title to such records shall be vested in the state archives; and

(3) To direct and effect the transfer of materials from private sources authorized to be received by the state archivist under the provisions of this chapter.

(b) The state archivist shall be responsible for the custody, use, and withdrawal of records transferred to him or her; provided, that whenever any records the use of which is subject to statutory limitations and restrictions are so transferred, permissive and restrictive statutory provisions with respect to the examination and use of the records applicable to the head of the agency from which the records were transferred or to employees of that agency shall thereafter likewise be applicable to the archivist, and to the employees of the state archives respectively; provided, further that whenever the head of any agency shall specify in writing restrictions that appear to him or her to be necessary or desirable in the public interest, on the use or examination of records being considered for transfer from his or her custody to the state archivist shall impose such restrictions on the records so transferred, and shall not remove or relax the restrictions without the concurrence in writing of the head of the agency from which the material shall have been transferred (or if the existence of the agency shall have been terminated, then he or she shall not remove or relax such restrictions without the concurrence of the successor in function, if any, of the agency head); provided, however, that statutory and other restrictions referred to in the provisions of this subsection shall remain in force or effect after the records have been in existence for fifty (50) years unless the archivist by order shall determine with respect to specific bodies of records that the restrictions shall remain in force and effect for a longer period; and provided further that restrictions on the use or examination of records deposited with the archives of the state heretofore imposed and now in force and effect shall continue in force and effect regardless of the expiration of the tenure of office of the official who imposed them but may be removed or relaxed by the archivist with the concurrence in writing of the head of the agency from which material has been transferred (or if the existence of the agency shall have been terminated, then with the concurrence in writing of his or her successor in function, if any).

(c) The state archivist shall make provisions for the preservation, arrangement, repair and rehabilitation, duplication and reproduction (including microfilms), description, and exhibition of records transferred to him or her as may be needful or appropriate, including the preparation and publication of inventories, indexes, catalogs, and other finding aids or guides facilitating their use; and, when approved by the secretary of state, he or she may also publish such historical works and collections of sources as seem appropriate for printing or otherwise recording at the public expense.

(d) The state archivist, with the approval of the secretary of state, shall make provisions and maintain such facilities as he or she deems necessary or desirable for servicing records in his or her custody. The facilities shall meet recognized archival standards.

(e) The state archivist may accept for deposit:

(1) The personal papers and other personal historical documentary materials of predecessors or successors of the following officials: Rhode Island general office holders, general assembly leadership and chairpersons, mayors and town administrators as the state archivist may designate, offered for deposit under restrictions respecting their use specified in writing by the prospective depositors; provided, that restrictions so specified on the materials, or any portions thereof, accepted by the archivist for deposit shall have force and effect during the lifetime of the depositor or for a period not to exceed twenty-five (25) years, whichever is longer, unless sooner terminated in writing by the depositor or his or her legal heirs; and provided, further, that the archivist determines that the materials accepted for deposit will have continuing historical or other value;

(2) The original acts, resolutions and other proceedings of the general assembly shall be deposited and safely kept in the division of state archives of the department of state, and shall not be removed therefrom except upon the order of the general assembly, or upon process issued by the supreme or superior court or by a justice of either of said courts per the provisions of § 43-2-3;

(3) Motion-picture films, still pictures and sound recordings from public and private sources that are appropriate for preservation by the state government as evidence of its organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and transactions. Title to materials so deposited under this subsection shall pass to and vest in the state archives.

(4) Burial records from any private or nonprofit cemetery association or perpetual care society or any funeral director which has ceased operations.

(f) The state archivist is hereby authorized to preserve video tapes, motion-picture films, still pictures, and sound recordings pertaining to and illustrative of the historical development of the state and its activities, and to make provisions for preparing, editing, titling, scoring, processing, duplicating, reproducing, exhibiting, and releasing for nonprofit educational purposes, motion-picture films, still pictures, and sound recordings in his or her custody.

(g)(1) The state archivist is hereby authorized to establish a unit within the division which shall be known as the local government records program and which shall be primarily responsible for assisting cities and towns with the care and management of their public records. The program shall be charged with designing and implementing a training program for local government records keepers; publishing retention schedules for the proper disposition of public records in local governments; and providing technical and advisory assistance in the storage, preservation, and ongoing maintenance of the records of local governments.

(2) The state archivist shall submit a yearly report on the progress of the local government records program to the general officers and to the general assembly. The state archivist shall be permitted to request funding as part of the operating budget of the office of secretary of state to operate this program.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1989, ch. 341, § 1; P.L. 1990, ch. 252, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 241, § 1.)