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Secretary of State, Microsoft, EDS rescue endangered history
First facility of its kind in America opens today

CHENEY...Secretary of State Sam Reed today opened the doors of America's first government digital archives built from the ground up a facility designed to salvage critical, public records from local and state government that are born electronic.

If Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on a laptop we may not have it today, said Reed. Electronic records have been disappearing at an alarming rate because we've had no means to preserve them. These are records we need to make public policy, to conduct day-to-day business, and to prepare for the future.

Washington State's Digital Archives, online today for the first time, answers a nationwide call to protect digital records left perishable by advancing technology and the Internet.

The delete key on computers across the country is eating away at the daily record of government the vital decisions reached through streams of email and mapped out in electronic documents, said Reed.

In fact, archivists estimate that the State of Washington is missing more than half of its electronic records and many will never be recovered. These include email and electronic documents from Governors, legislators, and other elected officials, as well as records important to those researching their ancestors.

We've been on a four-year crusade to rescue modern history, said Reed. This mission takes notice of our place in time and helps us prepare for future generations as previous generations prepared for us.

Microsoft and EDS provided the software platform, consulting, and expertise necessary to develop a digital archive a brainchild of the Office of Secretary of State to preserve both old records and modern history, and to make our most historic documents available worldwide.

The archive will hold a wide range of material from birth, marriage, death, census, military and naturalization records, to historic records like the State Constitution and the first election results in Washington Territory . In fifteen years, citizens could access up to 800 terabytes (the equivalent of 200 billion pages of text) of public records and history from their home computers.

It is mind boggling when you consider that 800 terabytes on paper would fill a football stadium and in our digital archive we will use a fraction of that space, said Reed. Technology advanced so quickly we couldn't archive our own work. Today and in the future, technology will preserve history untouched for our children, grandchildren and others who follow us.

Unlike paper records that can be compromised or destroyed in a fire or flood, electronic records will be protected with a digital lock, redundant copies, and offsite back-ups. Once archived and secured, the authentic records may be passed on.

Authentic records build trust in government,said Reed. Our mission is to preserve our day-to-day successes and failures for people who will live in this state 100 years from now and beyond.


Microsoft and EDS used the Microsoft Windows Server System and Visual Studio .NET 2003 to create the Digital Archive system.

  • The Microsoft SQL Server 2000 database is used to store archived records for long-term retrieval; 
  • Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004 is used to connect hundreds of state and local government offices with the Digital Archives so legal and historical records can be automatically and electronically transmitted and archived with no human involvement of any kind;
  • Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 integrated development environment (IDE) as one of the primary development tools.

To use the state's new Digital Archives: