Secretary Wyman presents the Roger Easton Award of Excellence to Megan Zimmerman on behalf of her grandmother, Terri Huntley, who died last March. Terri was in charge of the Historical Records Project for several years. Also in the photo are Terri’s husband, Mike Huntley, and Southwest Regional Branch Archivist Lanny Weaver. (Photo courtesy of Benjamin Helle)
For many years, the Office of Secretary of State has relied on volunteers from all over Washington to perform a variety of tasks that help the office provide many useful services to the public. Secretary of State Kim Wyman and other OSOS leaders recognized these volunteers for their hard work at an event Wednesday in the Governor’s Mansion.
The volunteers vary in age and in their range of duties, supporting various projects of the Washington State Archives and State Library, including the Historical Records Project and the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library. Wyman said over 500 volunteers help preserve Washington history and give citizens easy access to millions of documents that can help them in their research, family history and just reading enjoyment.
The annual event gave Secretary Wyman, State Archivist Steve Excell and State Librarian Rand Simmons a chance to personally thank many of the volunteers for the time and skills they devote to the tasks.
Volunteers are helping digitize documents for the Digital Archives and are converting 172,000 old catalog cards so they can be accessed online. Other volunteers are helping to digitize historic Washington newspapers for online use and for posting by the Library of Congress.
The Washington Talking Book & Braille Library has more than 400 volunteers who donate over 30,000 hours of their time each year. The tasks range from recording audio books, braille transcription, shipping, circulation and so much more.
The Historic Records Project has about 130 volunteers at any one time. They make it easy for the public to access important documents like birth, marriage and death records.
Wyman expressed her gratitude for the many volunteers in attendance:
“Without the volunteers, we couldn’t do half the job…records might just sit in a holding tank of sorts, useless to researchers and staff. Thanks to the work of all the volunteers, these essential records will become accessible to people not only in Washington state, but worldwide.”
The emotional high point of the event was the posthumous awarding of a special award for excellence to Terri Huntley, who died in March after a distinguished career with the Archives, including directing the Historic Records Project and the robust volunteer program. Wyman gave a crystal plaque to Huntley’s husband, Mike, and to her granddaughter, Megan Zimmerman of Tacoma. Wyman said Terri was an outstanding manager:
“On her watch, over 3 million records became accessible worldwide. She loved working with hundreds of volunteers during her time with us .. and she was well known for her impish humor, her spunk, her love of drama and history, her writing, and, yes, rock & roll. Her husband, Mike, called her a `rocker chick at heart.'”
Volunteers can work from home, at their own pace and on their own time. To become a Secretary of State volunteer or to learn more, you can contact your preferred project by exploring the Library and Archive websites.