Record debate: discussion of county archives continues

10:00 am | July 15, 2013

For Joe Penza, any discussion about history is a good one, even if it’s contentious.

Photo by Brandon HicksCity Archivist Joe Penza stands in the center of the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library’s archives near one of the first folding maps of the state of Tennessee. On the subject of a joint city and county archives, Penza said he was unaware of such a venture, but that he thought it could be possible.

Photo by Brandon Hicks
City Archivist Joe Penza stands in the center of the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library’s archives near one of the first folding maps of the state of Tennessee. On the subject of a joint city and county archives, Penza said he was unaware of such a venture, but that he thought it could be possible.

“To me, the worst disaster is if no one is talking about history,” Penza said. “I’m just ecstatic that it’s being talked about.”

Locally, historical conversations appear to be happening a bit more frequently. Specifically, Penza mentioned the disagreement between two historical preservation societies over the historic Green Hill Cemetery in Elizabethton.

“I don’t fall on either side,” Penza said. “But so long as there’s debate around that cemetery, I guarantee it’s going to get mowed, and is going to be looking good, and you’re going to be able to read those gravestones.”

But, for Penza – who serves as the city of Elizabethton’s archivist for the archives at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library – the historical debate that may hit closer to home is a discussion between Carter County officials over the establishment of a county archives.

“I do believe, at some point, there will be a Carter County archives,” Penza said. “But there are a lot of questions, and a lot of people have their own ideas about how they want it to go down.”

The last several attempts to initiate a county archives came at the behest of County Mayor Leon Humphrey. For Humphrey, the need to create an archives becomes more critical as the days pass, and the county’s offices continue to fill up with new and existing records.

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