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Council of State Archivists (CoSA)


Records of Governors

Gubernatorial records comprise an important body of knowledge documenting policy development in state government. They inform legal decisions and the collective history of the states and nation.

The latest edition of the Council of State Archivists' manual on governors records was published in November 2010 by the National Governors Association. This updates the 2006 edition.

Managing Gubernatorial Records: A Guide for Governors
Download the guide (PDF, 737 KB)

The purpose of the Guide is to help governors and their staff members to make informed decisions about managing their records for the benefit of all state citizens.

Some of the topics covered in the Guide include the distinctions between “official records” and “personal papers,” handling transition office and campaign records, and the dangers of mishandling records. The 2010 edition contains additional guidance on electronic and other machine-readable records, including email, websites, and social media. The National Association of State Chief Information Officers worked with CoSA to refine the text.

Governors’ Offices, like all public offices, are under increased public scrutiny, and sound records management policies not only reduce risk but increase efficiency, thereby saving public resources.

At the its annual meeting in 2003, CoSA discussed governors records (see summary of discussion) and decided to form a task force to revise and update a manual on governors records that was originally prepared by the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators and published by the National Governors Association in 1989. This new manual is the result.

Other useful documents re: records of governors and other government officials include:

Charles Schultz,"Gubernatorial Records: Status, Access, and Content." Paper delivered at Society of American Archivists' 2002 Annual Meeting. MS Word version (350KB). PDF version (578KB). The most definitive study, to date, on the management and disposition of gubernatorial records.

"State Archives' Holdings of Governors' Public Records and Private Papers (status in 1996)," Table 15 in Maintaining State Records in an Era of Change: A National Challenge. Council of State Historical Records Coordinators, 1996.

National Archives and Records Administration."Documenting Your Public Service," described as a guide for high-level government officials to help them distinguish federal records from other documentary materials, including personal files (although it specifically excludes from consideration records created under the Presidential Records Act).

Policy Statement Regarding the Preservation and Disposition of the Official Records of Governors, issued by the National Association of State Archives and Records Administrators (NASARA). 1981.