Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference
P.O. Box 1773
Carlisle, PA 17013
Phone number 717/ 713-9973
Fax number 717/ 245-1439
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference Steering Committee passed the following resolution at its Fall meeting in Pittsburgh, 30 September 2004:
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference [composed of over 1,000 members representing the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia] support the position of the Society of American Archivists, the American Library Association and other archival and historical organizations that have expressed serious reservations about the extent to which the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (the USA Patriot Act) impinges on the privacy and civil rights of American citizens.
We add our collective voice to the growing number of persons and organizations across the political spectrum that have expressed concerns that the USA Patriot Act violates legitimate privacy rights without sufficient accountability by law enforcement agencies.
We call on the United State Congress to re-examine the USA Patriot Act as it considers the renewal or extension of its various provisions to ensure that enhancement of tools to combat terrorism do not come at the expense of privacy and civil rights.
17 May 2004, to Andy Masich, President/CEO, The Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, concerning the major cuts that have been made in the staffing of the Society's archives and library.
May 17, 2004
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) is surprised to learn of the major cuts that have been made in the staffing of the Society's archives and library. MARAC is an organization of approximately 1,000 archivists, curators, librarians, and other dedicated professionals working in the field of historical records, many of them employed at the major historical societies extending from New York to Virginia. We are very concerned about the effects the cuts will have on the long-term preservation of and access to the historical record as documented by the Society.
As you know, the library and archives is the custodian of rare, unique and significant collections which document 250 years of Western Pennsylvania's history. The dismissal of director-level staff members and the placement of the staff and users of one of the Society's core divisions under the direction of individuals not trained in archives and library management is contrary to the mission of the Society. These staff members fulfill essential responsibilities, such as the professional assessment of collections; offer outstanding guidance to both library/archives users and other Society staff; and represent the Society to the professional archives and history communities, as well as the general public. As a historian, you no doubt have benefited from the expertise of professional archivists and librarians, who have assured preservation of and access to collections which otherwise might not have come to your attention. It is the professional staff that provides access to the collections through a thorough knowledge of their contents and relationships -- an important component of the institutional memory of an organization.
MARAC is concerned that the Society's ability to remain one of the leading agencies in documenting the cultural and historical experience of Western Pennsylvania will be seriously jeopardized by the library and archives division's lack of professional direction, which may negatively impact the Society's ability do attract future donations of additional collections documenting regional history. We are also concerned that the lack of a professional library and archives director may render the Society ineligible to receive future state and federal grant funding targeted for the processing and accessibility of archival and manuscript collections.
We are cognizant that the terminations made in the library and archives division were made based on projected budget shortfalls, and that in time you may find additional sources of revenue. MARAC hopes that you will soon be able to restore archives and library professionals to the leadership of this core division, and is willing to lend what assistance it can toward that end.
Response, 26 May 2004, from Andy Masich.
Statement signed by MARAC, 14 April 2004, on the Nomination of Allen Weinstein to Become Archivist of the United States.
Link to SAA statement
12 February 2004, to The Honorable Anthony Williams, Mayor of the District of Columbia, concerning the continuing neglect of the DC Archives.
February 12, 2004
I am writing again on behalf of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, comprised of archivists, records managers and other documentary heritage professionals in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. In early December, we wrote to express our concerns about the condition of the District of Columbia archives. Since that time, our members have been monitoring this situation carefully.
MARAC and its members are pleased the publication of Sewell Chan's article, "City's Records Center Compiles a History of Neglect: Documents Lie All but Ignored In Dingy Building" in The Washington Post on December 4, 2003, generated long-overdue discussion about moving the DC archives to new space, and upgrading its abilities to catalog and preserve the vital records and other historical documents that comprise a large portion of the District's documentary heritage.
However, the archival community now has received indications the D.C. archives is in danger of being completely eliminated from the forthcoming District budget. There are no terms stark enough to state how distressing these indications are to the archival community, and to MARAC and its members. The archival profession is heavily populated with individuals who have spent a portion of their careers working in various government agencies and private organizations in the District, or in the greater Washington metropolitan area; I am one of those individuals. We know and appreciate from a professional and personal point of view the rich history and heritage of the District, and the vital records functions provided by all levels of government. We understand the fiscal constraints of these challenging times, but we also know that inaction or outright elimination of the D.C. archives from the budget will only compound the problem, in the present and in the future.
It is both disheartening and frightening to consider the D.C. archives, a symbol of home rule and civic pride, might be left to rot, without even the sub-standard services that are now being provided, and that future generations will be robbed of the knowledge of their heritage and the proud history of the District of Columbia, and the vital records function of the District for its citizens will be severely diminished. MARAC and its members respectfully request that the District provide assurances to its citizens, as well as the archival community, that the D.C. archives will be funded in the forthcoming District budget. We further request that the Mayor's office, the District Council, and the Secretary of the District consider all possible solutions to improving the sub-standard conditions of the current DC Record Center facilities, and how to fund these improvements in the future, including public and private initiatives. MARAC and its members stand ready to assist the District in any way we are able, and look forward to positive results for the D.C. archives and the citizens of the District in the very near future.
10 December 2003, to The Honorable Anthony Williams, Mayor of the District of Columbia, concerning the neglect of the DC Archives.
December 10, 2003
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC). Our organization represents archivists and others who care for historical records in the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
On December 4, 2003, The Washington Post printed the article "City's Records Center Compiles a History of Neglect: Documents Lie All but Ignored In Dingy Building" by Sewell Chan. This article discusses the history of neglect of the DC Archives, the home of the records that document the history of the District of Columbia. We were very concerned to hear that the records are unprotected with no security staff to ensure that these vital documents are not stolen or damaged, and that there is no conservation or preservation plan to ensure that these records are preserved for future generations to use. As Timothy Ericson, president of the Society of American Archivists noted in the article, "Archival records preserve people's rights: voting rights, property rights. They document marriage, educational achievements, all sorts of things that are important to people in their everyday life." The District of Columbia risks losing its heritage and documentation of its rights, rights that were fought for by the proponents of home rule, through the sub-standard operations of its current archival program.
In addition, the article noted that due to the District's inefficient handling of government records the city is losing money; money that could be used to improve District services or help build a new archives building to safely house the records of the District, including those held by the National Archives and Records Administration. In addition, these "lost" funds could help support a professional staff that could meet the needs of the researchers and implement a records policy that would ensure the appropriate disposition of non-permanent records and protect those permanent records needed to ensure the rights of the District and its people.
It is disheartening that this symbol of home rule and civic pride is being left to rot, and that future generations will be robbed of the knowledge of their heritage and the proud history of the District of Columbia. We hope that you and the members of the City Council will take steps to ensure that the DC Archives receives the funding that it deserves and requires to protect, preserve, and make accessible the records of the District's heritage, and that work begins immediately to save these records from loss.
10 April 2003, to Governor McGreevey, concerning the Governor's proposed budget eliminates state funding for the New Jersey State Historical Commission.
April 10, 2003
Dear Governor McGreevey:
Recent reports indicate that the Governor's proposed budget eliminates state funding for the New Jersey State Historical Commission (NJSHC). I am writing as the Chair of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) to voice the growing concern of our members who are distressed that a critical resource for the preservation of New Jersey's documentary heritage is endangered. MARAC is an organization of approximately 1,000 archivists, curators, librarians, and other dedicated professionals employed in the field of historical records, in a region extending from New York to Virginia, with many of our members working and residing in New Jersey.
As you may know, the NJSHC is the state's statutory entity for the advancement of public knowledge and preservation of New Jersey history. The Commission advances public knowledge by providing grants, conducting research, helping to preserve resources, producing publications, public programs, and classroom materials. The New Jersey Historical Society, along with other local historical societies across the state, and projects like Electronic New Jersey, depend on the funding and support of the NJSHC. Additional archives repositories and historical programs, public as well as private, are sure to be suffer from a trickle down effect as these agencies compete for funding from a dwindling supply of alternative sources. Original diaries, letters, and other primary documents are a vital component in educational programs that provide a gateway to learning for students of all ages. This proposal seriously threatens the quality of life for New Jersey residents, and to eliminate or reduce funding for these programs is a shortsighted act that will devastate the documentary record of New Jersey.
Please consider our appeal to reinstate funding for the NJSHC. I would be glad to discuss this issue with you, and look forward to your response.
Honorable James E. McGreevey
8 April 2003, to Senator John Warner concerning recent reports indicating the Department of the Army's decision to contract out the functions and services of the Center for Military History (CMH).
Dear Senator Warner:
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) is an organization of approximately 1,000 archivists, curators, librarians, and other dedicated professionals employed in the field of historical records, working in a region extending from New York to Virginia. Our membership is concerned about recent reports indicating the Department of the Army�s decision to contract out the functions and services of the Center for Military History (CMH).
As you may know, ever since its formation the CMH has provided historical support to the Army, contributing essential background information for decision making, staff actions, command information programs, and public statements by Army officials. The programs administered by the CMH (described at www.army.mil/cmh-pg) also play a critical role in the preservation and dissemination of documentary sources. Government historians and archivists provide the best source of in-house information on past events to support civilian and military leaders. Decision-makers can be assured that the information products issued by CMH are accurate, balanced, and clear. In the context of recent administration initiatives to contract out services provided by Civil Service employees, this directive poses a serious threat to government history and archives programs.
Please request that the Department of the Army exempt the CMH from this misguided outsourcing initiative. I look forward to your response addressing our membership's concerns.
Senator John Warner, Chair
5 September 2002, to President Arthur Levine, Teachers College, New York, N.Y., expressing concern that the Special Collections Department of the Teachers College Milbank Memorial Library is being closed as a separate department, and the services of its professional staff terminated.
Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference
September 5, 2002
Dear President Levine:
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) is surprised and concerned to learn that the Special Collections Department of the Teachers College Milbank Memorial Library is being closed as a separate department, and the services of its professional staff terminated. MARAC is an organization of approximately 1,000 archivists, curators, librarians, and other dedicated professionals working in the field of historical records, many of them employed by leading universities and colleges in a region extending from New York to Virginia.
As you know, the Special Collections Department http://lweb.tc.columbia.edu/cs/sc/index.html is custodian of a rare and significant archive, which documents over 100 years of the history of education in New York and the nation. Postings on the Archivists Roundtable of Metropolitan New York and the Hnet discussion network indicate that the collection will be made available as part of the library's general collections, but with no mention of direct oversight by a professional archivist. This is contrary to all good, recommended archival practice and rare, special, or unique items never circulate to general library users unsupervised. Turning this collection over to the care of non-professional staff is an abrogation of the College's responsibility to the world of scholarship, not to mention any specific or implied obligations the library made to donors when accepting their collections.
We are concerned that this decision was made without input from the archives community. MARAC joins the chorus of other interested organizations asking for the administration of Teacher's College to re-consider this action, and is willing to lend what assistance it can to study alternatives so that this valuable resource is properly preserved and made accessible to scholars and researchers.
President Arthur Levine
17 May 2002, to New York State Assembly Speaker of the House Sheldon Silver expressing concern about a proposal in Governor Pataki's Executive budget that would significantly affect the management of archival records in the state. The governor's budget proposes that the Office of Cultural Education (OCE) be removed from the State Education Department and be transformed into a public benefit corporation named the New York Institute for Cultural Education (NYICE).
Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference
6707 OLD DOMINION DRIVE
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) is an organization of approximately 1,000 archivists and dedicated professionals working in the field of historical records, of whom at least one quarter reside in New York State. Our membership is deeply concerned about a proposal in Governor Pataki's Executive budget that would significantly affect the management of archival records i n the state. The governor's budget proposes that the Office of Cultural Education (OCE) be removed from t he State Education Department and be transformed into a public benefit corporation named the New York Institute for Cultural Education (NYICE). The creation of this institute would mean the elimination of about $19 million in funds from the state budget, and funding for NYICE would come from a quadrupling (to $20) of the filing fee that sustains the Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF).
This proposal is being opposed by the state Board of Regents (which oversees the operations of the State Education Department), many local governments, and other concerned stakeholders across the state. The following are important reasons for opposing this fund:
1. the change will not improve services to anyone and could possibly cause a degradation of some services.
2. the proposal dramatically changes the intent of the LGRMIF, which under this proposal would fund not only archives and records management, but also museum and library operations and the operation of the state's services for public broadcasting stations.
3. the LGRMIF has a sunset provision that automatically takes effect unless changed, and it makes little sense to move central state government functions (like the museum, library and the management of state government archives) under the threat of a sunset provision.
The LGRMIF is a highly respected program in the state and consistently rates in the 90th percentile in customer satisfaction surveys. In the last decade, most of the progress in improving the management of, and increasing access to, local government records is due to the LGRMIF, which f unds roughly 500 local government records management grants every year. The LGRMIF also provides $500,000 to support the state's Documentary Heritage Program, which distributes grants and technical advice to historical records repositories.
The removal of OCE from the State Education Department would cut OCE's budget by $600,000 a year, which is the cost of the administrative services OCE now receives from the Education Department. If the new organization (NYICE) chose to protect direct services to customers, they would have to cut the $600,000 in funding from local assistance grants, which would translate into an average of 60 fewer grants awarded to local governments each year. This cut would be especially painful in the current economic climate; this year, the LGRMIF can only fund approximately 34% of grant requests. All local governments, including large and small towns, villages, cities, fire districts, and school districts would feel this loss. Additionally, the current proposal does not suggest how to remedy such shortfalls in the future and would actually make them more likely.
Another flaw in this proposal is that it does not define the role of the Local Government Records Advisory Council (LGRAC) as it might relate to the NYICE. LGRAC has participated in the development of the State Archives' services for local governments since the inception of the LGRMIF. The Council is composed of representatives from local and state government, and members from key local government associations. If the current appointment process changes, LGRAC will lose the continuity, consistency, and bipartisanship that have made it a valued partner of the State Archives and a defender of the LGRMIF.
One of the most disturbing issues related to this proposal is that it does not recommend the elimination of the sunset provision for the LGRMIF, which means that the State Archives, Library and Museum would face possible elimination every five years. It is untenable for the state of New York to ignore its obligation to fund and improve its own Archives, Library and Museum. The management of these vital cultural institutions is a central responsibility of the state of New York.
Since the proposal to establish NYICE demonstrates no benefit to the people of the state, the local governments served by the LGRMIF, or the hundreds of thousands of customers served by the State Archives, Library and Museum, and would contribute to the serious disruption and deterioration of valuable services to the citizens of New York, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference urges you to defeat this ill-conceived and inopportune proposal.
5 February 2002, to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressing concern and dismay over the recent removal of the mayoral records of the Giuliani administration from the custody of the New York City Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS).
THE ARCHIVISTS ROUND TABLE OF METROPOLITAN NEW YORK
February 5, 2002
As members of the professional archival and historical communities, we write to express our concern and dismay over the recent removal of the mayoral records of the Giuliani administration from the custody of the New York City Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS). These records belong to the City of New York and are a valuable public resource. While we understand that the records remain the property of the City, the practical effect of the current arrangement is that they are now out of reach of both the city archivists and the public.
We recognize that the arrangement may raise a number of legal issues that you may be asked to consider, or perhaps are considering. The purpose of this letter is not to raise, at this time, legal questions, but to bring to your attention the ramifications of this arrangement from the point of view of historians, researchers, archivists and members of the public.
It is the mandate of DORIS and its commissioner to preserve, classify and make readily available all city records of "historical, research, cultural or other important value." These records, in the words of current Commissioner Brian G. Andersson "serve as the collective memory of our civilization... Individually and collectively, these records are priceless, unique, and are among the richest of our legacies. DORIS has the honor of guarding and providing public access to this legacy." We believe that for a number of reasons the current arrangement does not permit DORIS to properly fulfill its mandate.
First, we understand that under the current arrangement, former Mayor Giuliani will have the right to block public access to any documents in which he deems he has a "private interest." We maintain that such decisions can only be made by professional archivists employed by the City and responsible to the public. The Charter makes it clear that the decision should not be left to the former mayor.
Second, we are troubled that the City appears to relinquish to a third party its responsibility for "guarding�this legacy" through the preservation and care of these important documents. Again, we maintain that those obligations properly should be fulfilled by those employed by the City and responsible to the public.
We are concerned about segregating these documents from the Municipal Archives. These records should be organized and stored in the same manner and same location as other city documents. The website for the Municipal Archives boasts of the benefits of "centralized access to the wealth of material deposited in the Archives..." We do not believe those benefits should be withdrawn from researchers and historians.
We also understand that the agreement does not require public access to the documents (except pursuant to a FOIL request), and may, in fact, require written approval by the City before granting access to the public. This could provide a barrier to researchers that does not currently exist with respect to similar city records.
Finally, we are concerned that the current arrangement essentially gives a private entity priority of access to important documents of civic and historical interest: documents that belong to all of us. At the present moment, the Rudolph W. Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs has unfettered access to all of these records, while the public has no access at all. We believe that this kind of preference is inconsistent with the obligation of DORIS to provide public access as swiftly as possible.
DORIS does provide access to city records, including mayoral records, at the earliest possible time. While full processing of a mayoral collection of a comparable size to the Giuliani records can take as long as two years, certain sections of the collection can be made available earlier by using a rapid screening and listing process. This is a common practice among archives, all of which have to deal with researcher demands, lack of funds, and sizable backlogs.
We believe that DORIS has in the past met professional standards and will, with sufficient funding, continue to do so in the future. Moreover, DORIS archivists are the most skilled and experienced at appraising, processing, describing and making available City records. If DORIS's efforts have been hampered by a lack of funding, the City and the Mayor's Office must bear some responsibility. If additional funds are needed to expedite the processing of the former mayor's papers, then the City should seek additional funds, through grants or other means, in order to accomplish that goal.
As Steven L. Hensen, the current president of the Society of American Archivists, stated in an editorial published on December 16, 2001, in the Washington Post, on the subject of the recent Executive Order 13233 regarding presidential records:
Those of us who labor in the nation's archives are entrusted with ensuring that citizens and scholars have access to the records of human society and culture, as well as to the important records of our government. The guarantee of such access is a cornerstone of the Constitution and of democracy in general.
In the spirit of that message, the professional archival and historical communities call upon you to fulfill your responsibility to the people and scholars of the city, the country, and the world by terminating the current arrangement, and regaining custody of these important records.
We are available, and would welcome the opportunity, to meet with you to discuss these matters further.
14 November 2001, to Representative Stephen Horn, opposing Executive Order 13233 that threatens to negate the public's right of access under the Presidential Records Act (PRA) by giving former presidents effective veto power over any public release of their materials by the National Archives.
Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) is a professional organization of approximately 1,100 members concerned and actively involved with the access, acquisition, and preservation of all formats of historical materials which document the human experience. I am writing on behalf of MARAC members who wish to express great concern with the recent issue of Executive Order 13233 by President George W. Bush, and request that this letter be included as part of the official hearing record of November 6, 2001, entitled "Oversight hearing on the Presidential Records Act of 1978."
EO 13233 purports to establish clear, sensible and workable procedures to determine whether Presidential Records should be released or withheld. Unfortunately, EO 13233 threatens to negate the public's right of access under the Presidential Records Act (PRA) by giving former presidents effective veto power over any public release of their materials by the National Archives, even after the 12-year restriction period under the PRA has expired. The EO's fundamental flaws, which need to be eliminated in order to bring it into conformity with the law, are as follows:
Section 2(a) of the Executive Order states that the former president's constitutional privileges include not only the privilege for confidential communications with his advisers that has been recognized by the Supreme Court, but also the state secrets privilege, the attorney-client privilege and attorney work product privileges, and the deliberative process privilege. There is no precedent, however, for invocation of the state secrets privilege by a former president, as opposed to the incumbent.
Section 2(b) of the Executive Order states that a party seeking access to presidential records must assert a "demonstrated, specific need" for those records, even after the end of the 12-year period, in order to overcome the former president's privilege. This provision is contrary to the PRA, which makes access available under Freedom of Information Act standards that require no such showing of need.
Sections 3(a) and 3(c) of the Executive Order provide both a former president and the incumbent president an unlimited amount of time to review records to determine whether to object to their release to the public. These provisions are contrary to the PRA's requirement that the Archivist of the United States make such materials available to the public at the earliest possible date.
Sections 3(d) and 4 of the Executive Order require the incumbent president to "concur in" and support in court an assertion of privilege by the former president, regardless of whether it is legally valid, unless there are compelling circumstances. Even if the incumbent president does not concur in a former president's assertion of privilege, the order requires the Archivist to bow to the former president's claim and withhold public access to any records to whose release the former president objects. These provisions are contrary to the PRA insofar as they require the Archivist to withhold documents from the public without determining the validity of the former president's claim of privilege.
Section 3(d)(2) empowers the incumbent president to order the Archivist to withhold access to the former president's records on grounds of privilege even if the former president does not object to their being made public, and even in the absence of any claim that national security would be affected by public release. Outside of the realm of national security, there is no precedent for an assertion of executive privilege by a sitting president as to 12-year-old records of a former president.
Section 10 of the Executive Order permits a former president (or his family) to designate a "representative" to assert constitutionally based executive privileges in the event of the former president's death or disability. This provision allows for potentially eternal withholding of records. There is no precedent supporting the notion that a private citizen "representing" a deceased or disabled president can assert the constitutional executive privilege.
Section 11 of the Executive Order allows a former vice president to assert constitutionally based privileges to bar release of records after the end of the 12-year restriction period applicable to his records under the PRA. There is no precedent supporting the concept that there is a constitutional privilege protecting vice presidential communications (except insofar as they may fall within the president's executive privilege).
In promulgating the PRA, the Congress and the President, with guidance from the Courts, took notice of the importance of executive privilege in protecting national security, and protecting the privacy of official White House deliberations when it is in the public interest to do so. T his does not, however, belie the importance of the public record to the free and spirited debate of our democracy. It is now more important than ever that the release of information take place under the guidance of law, and not through decree.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference therefore urges that the President and the Congress work toward guaranteeing the preservation of, and access to, the vital historical records of this nation by revising the seriously flawed Executive Order 13233 through legislation. We believe such legislation would permit executive privilege to be given the full legal protection required by the Constitution and render the EO superfluous and in violation of the statute to the extent its terms were inconsistent with the legislation.
20 June 2001, to Lawrence Small, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution, concerning the closing of the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education.
Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) is a professional organization of more than 1,000 members concerned and actively involved with the access, acquisition, and preservation of all formats of historical research materials.
As you know, the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education (SCMRE), formerly known as the Conservation Analytical Laboratory, is the scientific research facility that develops and tests methods of preserving books, written documents, photographs, videotape, and other digital media. It is the only independent facility of its kind in the United States.
MARAC is alarmed to learn of the closing of SCMRE for several reasons. It not only is staffed by trained conservation scientists (there are only a few of these in the United States), but also houses specialized scientific equipment. Its work is crucial for testing new products developed for conservation and its staff has helped to train conservators who work throughout America restoring historically valuable documents damaged by the effects of age or disasters. Without the trained services of these professionals, many of our most valuable documents, such as charters, incunabula and other rare items would be in danger. The laboratory not only serves other Smithsonian departments, but the nation as a whole.
MARAC believes that the Smithsonian Institution should exercise leadership in preserving the nation's historic documents. We urge you to reconsider this decision to close SCMRE, as it is critical not to lose the collective resources of this facility and the work it accomplishes.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
26 April 2001, to Representative Herbert J. Istook, concerning full funding for NHPRC.
Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) is writing to you in support of full funding for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) budget. MARAC is a regional professional archival organization of over 1,000 members within the mid-Atlantic region, including the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia. MARAC promotes the education and training of archivists, and the advancement of the archival profession. Many of MARAC's members work in libraries and archives, and are very familiar with the work of the NHPRC.
Reducing the funding for the NHPRC for $6.436 million to $4.436 million, a 31% reduction, will have a serious negative impact on the mission of this organization to assist efforts to preserve and make the documentary heritage of the United States widely accessible. The NHPRC has been a model organization in the way it leverages its funding support to attract major matching grants from private sources, making the best possible use of the federal funding that it has. Its supporting grants have assisted projects ranging from the highly recognized editing projects of founding fathers such as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and John Adams, to the more current, larger, and more expensive records issues in the electronic records research area.
The public benefits that come from the preservation and dissemination of documents significant to an understanding of the United States are clear. Documentary history editions are used, not only by scholars, but by students and teachers at every educations level, as well as by documentary film makers and museum curators. The NHPRC is also involved in assisting the development of archival programs, promoting the preservation and use of historical records, and promoting regional and national coordination in addressing major archival issues, as well as supporting a wide range of other activities relating to America's documentary heritage. While the National Archives concentrates on federal records, the NHPRC helps archivists, documentary editors, and historians who preserve and make available non-federal records of exceptional historical significance.
MARAC urges you to vote full funding for the NHPRC. There is a continuing need for this work nationwide, and the NHPRC's work is a cornerstone to making historically significant documents available for a wide range of research and other uses.
8 August 2000, to The Honorable John Carlin, Archivist of the United States, concerning the disposition of Census 2000 image files.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) is writing to you to express its concern over your recent decision regarding the disposition of the Census 2000 Image Files. MARAC is a professional archival organization of approximately 1,000 members located in the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
The initial records life cycle work on the 2000 census began in 1994, and focused upon identifying those products from the Bureau of the Census that would meet the needs of the Federal Government and various research communities. An outgrowth of this work was the development of the Individual Census Record File (ICRF), an electronic file intended to capture all required census data. Together with other permanent records this recommendation would appear to provide for retention of those records needed for both the Federal Government and outside research needs.
After publication of the proposed schedule and a comment period, the retention schedule changed, providing for a much broader retention of the 2000 Census records, including digital image files. In the aftermath of this decision there has been a discussion of issues and broader records retention questions in several areas. Questions include whether those commenting on the originally proposed schedule fully understood what information was being made available under this schedule; what work is involved in the preservation of a significantly large quantity of records in various media forms; how many of the retained records either duplicate information or are blank forms; and what is the extent and informational value of marginal commentary on a census
questionnaire. There are also questions regarding the potentially major cost of making this information accessible well into the future, and the low potential for research use of the additional records retained.
MARAC does not know how much of the information regarding these issues was available to you when you made this appraisal decision. If all the critical information was not available to you at that time, MARAC recommends that you review this decision after obtaining additional comments from NARA staff and external sources.
Thank you for your consideration. Please contact me if you have any questions regarding this letter.
3 March 2000, to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan concerning Senate bill 1801, re: Public Interest Declassification Act of 1999.
6707 Old Dominion Drive
I am writing on behalf of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) to express this organization's view of S.1801, the Public Interest Declassification Act of 1999. MARAC is a professional archival organization encompassing the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its membership exceeds 900, and over 200 members work in New York archives.
MARAC has long supported the declassification of federal records, making them available for research. However, MARAC's support has been for systematic declassification, rather than the emphasis of this legislation for targeted declassification initiatives concentrating on a specifically identified body of records. We believe that this legislation will relegate systematic declassification to a lower priority. As a result, MARAC cannot support S. 1801. We take this step with regret, as MARAC has very often found itself supporting legislation that you have introduced.
Members of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference would be happy to meet with you if you wish to discuss any of the issues involved in this legislation in greater detail.
Letters sent concerning Senate bill 217, re: tax implication for donors of historical materials
6707 Old Dominion Drive
Dear Senator Moynihan and Senator Roth:
I am writing on behalf of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC), to express support for S. 217, a bill that would clarify the tax implication for donors of historical materials where some restrictions are placed on access to that material. MARAC is a professional archival organization encompassing the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its membership is over 1,100, and over 200 members work in New York archives.
While archivists, in general, advocate that material be fully opened at the earliest date possible, we are well aware of the reality of the situation in which most public figures do place some restrictions on access to their personal papers. There is a perception among some lawyers and estate planners that placing some restrictions on access may disqualify a donation from the charitable gift deduction; thus the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference recognizes the need for this kind of clarifying legislation. We support S. 217 because it will encourage writers, judges, artists, political leaders, and public figures to donate their papers to libraries, museums, historical societies, and universities. Furthermore, this legislation sets a limit on the time period in which restriction to access will be permissible, stating that 25 years after the death of the individual that there will be no restraints on access.
Members of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference would be happy to meet with you if you wish to discuss any of the issues involved in this legislation in greater detail.
NCC Washington Update, vol 5, #12, April 14, 1999 by Page Putnam Miller, Director of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History (firstname.lastname@example.org)
National Archives Affirms The Importance of A Strong Regional Archives System
On April 7, Archivist John Carlin reported on the findings of the National Archives' study that examined all of NARA's facilities and made recommendations on the needs, agency wide, for appropriate space for preserving and servicing federal records. After much consultation, including public meetings to hear from users, the National Archives has concluded that it will retain all units in the current regional archives system. The American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference had all weighed in strongly on the importance of the Regional Archives and the need to retain these facilities.
In 1998 the Archives' Space Planning Team analyzed the National Archives' regional facilities to determine what changes should be made to reduce space costs, to increase space quantity and quality, and to enhance access to records. This initiative resulted in considerable discussion inside and outside of the National Archives about the possibilities and the potential consequences of scaling back or merging units of the regional archives system. In addition to the Presidential Libraries and Federal Records Centers, the National Archives includes 13 Regional Archives that are spread across the country. These Archives accession and service federal agency records that document the history of a locality or region. The April 7, 1999 statement by Carlin makes clear that the National Archives is committed to retaining a strong regional system.
The Space Planning Team's recent recommendations focused on immediate facility needs and not on long term space reorganization. Three of the specific recommendations were: finding a larger and more adequate facility for the Atlanta area regional archives; meeting the space needs of the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis which holds the 20th century Department of Defense personnel records; and developing records center storage standards for records still in the legal custody of federal agencies, but which may be stored under proposed regulations with private records center companies.
Information last updated 18 February 2005