Letter to President Barack Obama Regarding Desired Qualifications for the Archivist of the United States

January 17, 2009

Dear President-Elect Obama:

As you are aware, Dr. Allen Weinstein, the Archivist of the United States, announced his resignation from his office effective December 19, 2008. On behalf of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, I am writing to share our thoughts regarding the qualifications that we believe are essential in the person whom you will appoint to replace Dr. Weinstein.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference is an organization of approximately 1,000 archivists, curators, librarians, and other dedicated professionals working in the field of historical records and includes numerous National Archives and Records Administration employees.

You have spoken eloquently about "...the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope" and that, "Our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared."

Our stories are preserved and our destiny is recorded in archives throughout the United States. It is within these archives that we document our democracy, our liberty, our opportunities and, most importantly, the hope of our nation's people. The Archivist of the United States is among the most senior individuals in the archives profession. He or she is invested with many legal obligations, but perhaps most importantly with the moral responsibility to see that this great mission of preserving and remembering our nation's history is accomplished in a way from which our citizens can and will learn.

Because the mission of recording and remembering is of such importance -- not only for our generation but for those who will follow us -- we believe a person of character and wisdom, whose decisions are made with a firm knowledge of archives, records management, information technology, and history, should be nominated as the next Archivist of the United States.

We hope that the thoughts attached to this letter ("A New Archivist of the United States: Qualities of a Successful Candidate") will help guide you in selecting the person whom you will nominate. If you have any questions about the attached document or MARAC can provide any assistance that might help inform your evaluation of potential candidates for this important position, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Susan McElrath
Chair, Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference

Read the qualifications document [document file]