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America's first Digital Archives attracts worldwide attention

Seven archivists from China toured the Secretary of State's Digital Archives on Tuesday, May 31 to learn how to rescue, preserve and make accessible China's critical, electronic records and historic documents dating back thousands of years. The delegation spent the day touring the Digital Archives and learning about the program: from initial planning and funding, through development and implementation. "The Washington State Digital Archives is truly honored to host fellow archivists who have traveled such a great distance in seek of knowledge and understanding" said Adam Jansen, Digital Archivist. "It was a wonderful opportunity for both groups to learn from each other."

Members of the Guangxi Archives Delegation are as follows:

Mr. Huang Mingchu, Director of Guanxi Province Archives
Mr. Qin Yanrui, Director of Guanxi Province Academy of Sciences
Mr. Huang Guicheng, Director of Nanning City Archives
Mr. Zhao Ronggui, Director of Guilin City Archives
Mr. Lu Dehong, Director of Liuzhou City Archives
Ms. Zhi Aiming, Director of Guigang City Archives
Mr. Tom Dong Shiang, CEO of Highland Digital, Inc.

Opened in October 2004, the Digital Archives has drawn interest and visitors from several states, the National Archives, United States Government Printing Office, the British Library, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The Digital Archives is the first facility of its kind in the nation. Designed to salvage critical, electronic records from extinction, this world-class facility is credited with saving former Washington Governor Gary Locke's website which includes some 4400 web pages and official documents.

The state-of-the-art facility preserves a wide range of original electronic records and digitized paper records from birth, marriage, death, census, military, institutional and naturalization records, to legal and historic records such as the State Constitution and the first election results in the Washington Territory. In fifteen years, citizens could access up to 800 terabytes, about 200 billion pages of text, of public records and history from their home computers.

Electronic records have been disappearing at an alarming rate because no means to preserve them existed. These records are needed to shape public policy and allow citizen access to public records.

Some of the historic documents housed in the Archives, now accessible anywhere in the world include:

Election returns from Washington Territory's first election in 1854; The Statehood Telegram, November 11, 1889; The Washington State Constitution, ratified by voters on October 1, 1889.

For more information visit

The Digital Archives are located on the Eastern Washington University Campus in Cheney, Washington. For directions, please call: (509) 235-7500 or (360) 791-7303.