The Baldwin County Archives Facility began as little more than a dream; a dream of a more efficient means to access valuable information on local government records. That dream, now a reality, arose out of the needs of local researchers, lawyers, law makers, and a whole host of others that sought information to provide services to their constituents in the county and throughout the state. Individuals like Tolbert M. Brantley, whose namesake adorns the facade of the archives building, saw the need for ready access to documents produced by the offices of Baldwin County government and stepped forward to begin the process that gained momentum through three decades culminating in 2005 with the building of the new archives facility located off Courthouse Square in Bay Minette. Brantley who served as the County Attorney in the mid to late 1970s sowed the seeds of a dedicated archives building long before such a project was popular or able to be funded. Brantley truly was ahead of his time in paving the way for the department that now exists.
But how did Brantley’s dream become a reality? The Baldwin County Commission, witness to a demographic explosion in the county found itself in need of a better way to access information and, in turn, to put that information to use serving their constituency. Alabama law mandates open access to public documents just as the voters of Baldwin County demand access to their county government. As a result, Alabama law requires public officials to create and maintain records that document the business of their office. These records must be protected from "mutilation, loss, or destruction," so that they may be transferred to an official's successors, in office and made available to members of the public. Under the Code of Alabama 1975, Section 36-12-40, "every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing in this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute." Records must also be kept in accordance with auditing standards approved by the Examiners of Public Accounts (Code of Alabama 1975, Section 36-12-2, 36-12-4, and 41-5-23).
And how could Baldwin County meet these standards? The answer was to concentrate the combined output of county generated documents in one facility which would ensure the future availability of the documents while also providing more open access to government agencies and private researchers. In 1995 the Commission established a Records Management Board to establish parameters for gathering and preserving the county’s records. Unfortunately, the Records Management Board was unsuccessful and was replaced in 1997 with a County Archives Study Committee charged with ascertaining the feasibility of producing an archives department as a stand alone unit of Baldwin County government. After careful consideration by the Study Committee, legislation was sought through which the Department of Archives and History would emerge. And in 1998 the State Legislature responded by adopting Act No. 98-579, as amended by Act No. 2000-275 creating the Baldwin County Department of Archives and History.
To better serve county offices and to provide more efficient access to public records, the Baldwin County Department of Archives and History has adopted the Records Disposition Authority (RDA) issued by the Local Government Records Commission under authority granted by the Code of Alabama 1975. Additionally, the Baldwin County Department of Archives and History, according to Act No. 98-579 of the State Legislature, "… shall provide assistance to the departments of the Baldwin County Government in the development and operations of the Record Management Program of the county upon request from the department and with the approval of the County Commission."
As a progressive measure, the County Archives Study Committee has since become inactive and has been superseded by an active Archival Advisory Board that counses the County Archivist.
At present the Baldwin County Archival Advisory Board consists of the following eight members:
- Chairman of Baldwin County Commission or designee of Baldwin County Commission
- Presiding Circuit Judge of 28th Judicial Circuit or designee of Presiding Circuit Judge
- Judge of Probate of Baldwin County or designee of Judge of Probate
- Revenue Commissioner of Baldwin County or designee of Revenue Commissioner
- Sheriff of Baldwin County or designee of Sheriff
- Circuit Clerk of 28th Judicial Circuit or designee of Circuit Clerk
- Citizen designated by Baldwin County Historical Society
- Citizen designated by Baldwin County Genealogical Society
The Baldwin County Department of Archives and History is currently staffed by Mrs. Felisha Anderson, Director, Mexcie Robinson and John Biggs, Archives Specialists. Both Archives Specialists assist patrons in their research of documents and artifacts maintained by the county archives. and can be contacted in the Archives Department Office at the following:
Felisha Anderson – firstname.lastname@example.org 251.580.2572
Mexcie Robinson – email@example.com 251.580.1909