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News in American History

From the Archivist of the US

Each quarter, the Archivist of the United States provides the Organization of American Historians with news and updates from the National Archives and Records Administration. 

New Strategic Plan for NARA Sets Ambitious Goals

A few months ago it was my pleasure to sign off on a document that will guide the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) into a bold future: our strategic plan for 2014 to 2018.

This is not a top-secret document or a mandated report to be dropped into a manila folder in a gray file cabinet. The strategic plan is NARA's road map to the future: a twenty-four-page document that spells out the four simple yet dynamic goals that we will pursue over the next five years.

To develop this plan we talked with our customers, staff, donors, stakeholders, and many others. I want to thank everyone, including the OAH and its members, for taking the time to read our draft plan and provide informed comments. The result is an ambitious plan that builds on the six outcomes of the transformation we have undergone in the past few years. Read more >

Posted: June 13, 2014
Tagged: From the Archivist of the US


NARA Provided Critical Services During Government Shutdown

In the November 2013 update from the Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero provides an update on activites at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) during the recent government shutdown.

The recent shutdown of the federal government was, and continues to be, a challenge for the staff of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). From October 1 until October 17, NARA was "officially" closed with the exception of minimal functions to protect its holdings. A very small group of dedicated NARA staff, such as facility and security managers and financial and legal staff, worked to be certain that our buildings and holdings were secure and to deal with any problems that might arise. Read more >

Posted: November 15, 2013
Tagged: From the Archivist of the US


Founding Fathers: Coming to a Web Site Near You

Thomas Jefferson heard that his one-time antagonist and White House predecessor had not been well, so the seventy-one-year-old sage of Monticello wrote to the seventy-eight-year-old John Adams on July 5, 1814: "Our machines have now been running for 70 or 80 years, and we must expect that, worn as they are, here a pivot, there a wheel, now a pinion, next a spring, will be giving way: and however we may tinker them up for awhile, all will at length surcease motion." Read more >

Posted: August 1, 2013
Tagged: From the Archivist of the US, News of the Profession


Volunteers at NARA Provide Support for Historians and Archivists

One of the things that has most impressed me since I came to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) three years ago is the work of our corps of dedicated, knowledgeable volunteers. What they do for us, and for the American people, is amazing. They write hundreds of item-level descriptions, annotate thousands of photo captions, and assist with digitization projects so that the past recorded on paper is not left behind in the digital era. Volunteers index tens of thousands of records; answer researchers’ questions; write articles about the records for our magazine, Prologue, and create our blogs; and present lectures to the public.

Read more >

Posted: May 13, 2013
Tagged: From the Archivist of the US, News of the Profession, Advocacy


NARA Opens George W. Bush Presidential Library

This spring, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) opened its thirteenth presidential library—the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum—on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. The library and museum for the forty-third president differs from the other twelve in several ways, including that its holdings chronicle one of the most important periods in recent U.S. history—a time when America entered into a war against terrorists.

Read more >

Posted: May 13, 2013
Tagged: From the Archivist of the US, News of the Profession


NARA Assumes Expanded Role in Federal Records Management

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is about to experience a sea change in the way it oversees the management and preservation of government records. This change is a result of a directive from me and the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This is our response to the president’s mandate to reform records management for the twenty-first century as delivered in his Memorandum on Records Management. In it, the president outlines his goal to require departments and agencies to manage all of their permanently valuable records in electronic form by the end of the decade to ensure transparency, efficiency, and accountability in government.

Read more >

Posted: October 29, 2012
Tagged: From the Archivist of the US, News of the Profession


National Archives Updates Open-Government Plan

One of President Barack Obama’s first actions when he took office in 2009 was to make a commitment to the “open government” principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration. At the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), we also made that commitment. Doing so was not difficult, since those same principles of open government are embedded in our basic mission.

Read more >

Posted: August 1, 2012
Tagged: From the Archivist of the US, Advocacy


NHPRC Promotes More Product, Less Processing

One of the seldom-told stories at the National Archives is about the work of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Most people, if they have heard of the NHPRC at all, know about its work in supporting historical documentary editions—the papers of American presidents, statesmen, or civil rights leaders. Or they have a general notion that the commission awards grants for preservation and access projects at state and local government agencies, colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations. Since it began giving grants in 1964, the NHPRC has awarded $207 million to 4,900 projects in all fifty states and special jurisdictions.

Read more >

Posted: May 17, 2012
Tagged: From the Archivist of the US


A Presidential Charge to Improve Federal Records Management

President Barack Obama has designated the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as one of the leading agencies in his Open Government Initiative to bring more participation, collaboration, and transparency to government.

Read more >

Posted: February 1, 2012
Tagged: From the Archivist of the US


Making Access Easier at the National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration is increasing its use of social media sites and tools to provide access to its vast holdings.

Read more >

Posted: November 9, 2011
Tagged: From the Archivist of the US


NARA Tightens Security to Prevent Thefts, Mutilation

Over the years, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has faced many physical and environmental threats to its holdings including fire, water, insects, and mold. We have been open about these risks and forthcoming about our efforts to combat them. However, there’s another risk to our collection.

Read more >

Posted: April 17, 2011
Tagged: News of the Profession, From the Archivist of the US


Founding Fathers’ Papers Headed for Internet

At the National Archives, we often note that we have ten billion pieces of paper in our holdings, containing the history of our nation from its beginnings in the Revolutionary period up to present. Now, we know that we don?t have all the documents that tell the story of our democracy. That?s why we are active in ensuring that historical documents not in our holdings are also preserved and made easily available to everyone. We do this through our grant-making arm, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Read more >

Posted: February 17, 2011
Tagged: From the Archivist of the US


At NARA, Making Tough Choices in the Budget

The Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, discusses many of the tough decisions his organization faces as a result of federal budget cuts for 2012.

Read more >

Posted: November 11, 2010
Tagged: From the Archivist of the US, Advocacy, News of the Profession


National Archives Takes Leading Role on Declassification

 

Read more >

Posted: September 13, 2010
Tagged: News of the Profession, From the Archivist of the US