Division of Archives and Records Service

Utah’s Emerging Record-keepers: Sydney Dahle, Cache County Deputy Clerk

Heidi Steed
September 12, 2022

Sydney Dahle started as a deputy clerk in the Cache County Clerk’s office in 2021, and is assigned to work as the county’s official record-keeper. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri Sydney moved to Utah to attend Utah State University. Sydney has an interest in preserving history and helping people access government records, and recently graduated with degrees in history and political science. Sydney took a minute to tell us a little bit about the work she does with Cache County and to show off why she is an emerging leader in the record keeping field.

Tell us a little bit about your work with Cache County and the various records projects you worked on? 

I was originally hired by the Cache County Clerk/Auditor’s Office to assist in organizing their records dating back to the beginning of the county in 1857. It was a big project that had yet to be tackled by the office so I had a daunting task ahead of me. First I needed to see what we had and then organize it accordingly into one of four categories: marriage, elections, taxes, and miscellaneous. Marriage was the first task, as both applications and licenses were by far the largest of the records. I organized all of them by year and category, creating a proper organization system for Cache County records. Then I put everything into a spreadsheet to help those in the future with retention schedules as well as figuring out what documents are where. Currently, I am working on digitizing additional documents so they can be properly stored while still being accessible.

What did you know about government records before you started?  

I majored in both history and political science with the hope of getting a job as a historian or something in archival work. I knew that important documents needed to be kept and stored in places with decent security but also needed to be accessible to the general public. I had worked for a newspaper prior to my time with Cache County and knew how important GRAMA requests were. Now, instead of requesting them, I was the one handing information over, and it needed to be organized. 

What was the most surprising aspect of this job? 

The most surprising part of this job is how much work it takes. It isn’t just a person throwing papers into a box; you have to properly label the boxes, know every document that’s inside, carry it to a shelf, in some cases, lift up to 25 pounds to put it away, and you need to make sure those documents can be accessed again in the future. Not properly labeling boxes or misplacing documents can lead to trouble for you, the county, and the public.

What did you find most interesting about your work? 

My favorite part and what I find most interesting is seeing glimpses into the lives of people from the past. Whether it be a marriage license from 1919, a voter registration from 2019, or a petition for a resolution in 1974, those documents all share pieces of the past and give you a look into the stories of both the county and the people who make it so. I will never get old of the smell or the texture of aged paper in my hands.

How has your project changed your perspective about government records? 

My time thus far working as an archivist for Cache County had given me an appreciation for those in the local and federal government to have to do the same thing. Cache County isn’t that old in the grand scheme of things, but imagine working for a state such as Virginia, which has been around since the 17th century! They must have a lot of records to keep track of!