Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Election Day "I've Had It" Moment

Here it is election day and what is bothering me most? Not the fact that I had to vote for someone today that I didn't really like for lack of anyone better to vote for. The papers of our former governor are what bother me most. Yes, I haven't given up on the issue of former Governor Kempthorne's papers just yet, and as of about five minutes ago I submitted a Letter to the Editor of the Idaho State Journal addressing my concerns. Here it is:

This letter is in response to the 5/23/08 statement of the Idaho State Journal editorial board regarding the withholding of Kempthorne’s papers:

What took so long?

The ISJ carelessly addressed a topic that the Idaho Statesman has been following for several weeks. The Statesman’s blunt, yet effective editorial requesting that Kempthorne “cough ‘em up” identified why we should care about these materials. Who does care about a bunch of dusty boxes of paper? You would be surprised. Interest in these papers is not limited to historians. Historians, political scientists, journalists, lawyers, and researchers across every discipline may find value in these unique papers that “should” chronicle the gubernatorial career of Mr. Kempthorne.

The trouble is, the longer the papers remain boxed up at the Department of Administration, open only with the approval of Kempthorne, they lose their research value. Without proper management, these papers will become obsolete and unnecessarily rearranged by those looking for certain materials with no regard for the materials on the path to get there. Equally troubling is the notion that Kempthorne needs more time to go through his papers. How beneficial to the story of Kempthorne’s career and this segment of Idaho history will this process be? Never mind the fact that Kempthorne is neither an archivist nor historian.

Despite the precedent for housing gubernatorial records at the state historical society, Kempthorne’s case is not the only peculiar one. The papers of former Governor Batt remain a mystery in terms of access and arrangement. In Batt’s case, his papers are in a condition that leaves much to be desired by any researcher. Nearly his entire collection has been weeded out, presumably by Batt himself, and contains nothing that wouldn’t be available in state newspapers. Is this what is to become of Kempthorne’s papers?

Have we lost our sense of historical importance? I hope not.
Now go out and vote already, I'll do the unnecessary worrying here for all of us!

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