Archive for September, 2010

Leading an Open Archives

Written on: September 25, 2010 | 4 Comments

Recently, I read an article and book by Charlene Li, an expert on social media and former analyst and vice president at Forrester Research. In the book, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, she states that greater openness in organizations is inevitable and is a consequence of the increasing use of social media.

As your customers and employees become more adept at using social and other emerging technologies, they will push you to be more open, urging you to let go in ways in which you may not be comfortable. Your natural inclination may be to fight this trend, to see it as a fad that you hope will fade and simply go away. It won’t. Not only is this trend inevitable, but it also is going to force you and your organization to be more open than you are today.

It’s evident that social media is breaking down barriers to communication and empowering citizens and employees to speak their minds freely. Broadcasting our opinions, views, and expressing our personality, is simple and easy on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. Li describes this new reality as a “period of fundamental social change akin to the rise of the automobile or the introduction of television.”

Her prescription for managing this new reality is “open leadership,” which means “having the confidence and … [ Read all ]

Happy Constitution Day!

Written on: September 17, 2010 | 1 Comment

Today we celebrate the 223rd anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States. On this date in 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the Constitution.

At the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., where the Constitution is on permanent display in the Rotunda, there is a celebration planned.

If you aren’t in D.C. today, you can learn more about some other remarkable documents that lead up to the signing of the Constitution in the video below.

Also, take a look at our set of photos on Flickr to see some important images about the document and the day:

For More Information:

Was Your Ancestor a Revolutionary War Spy?

Written on: September 10, 2010 | 0 Comments

In a letter to Ebenezer Hazard on February 18, 1791, Thomas Jefferson said,

…let us save what remains; not by vaults and locks which fence them from the public eye and use in consigning them to the waste of time, but by such multiplication of copies, as shall place them beyond the reach of accident.

Thomas Jefferson believed that the records documenting the “infancy of our country” should be circulated and appreciated. As Archivist of the United States, I am honored to have opportunities to connect people with records and to present copies of original documents to those with a personal connection to the record.

Last month, I had an opportunity to visit a dear friend of mine, Natalie Nicholson. She was the Associate Director of Libraries at MIT when I began my library career shelving books in the Humanities Library. Natalie, who turned 100 this past January, was one of the several strong women who took an interest in my career early in my library life at MIT.  She was a mentor who offered guidance and direction and opened doors for me. During my visit I presented a facsimile of a letter written by her great-great-great grandfather Issac Barker.

issac-barker-pension-file-map

Letter from Isaac Barker
(See citation below)

Isaac Barker’s letter is from his Revolutionary War pension file at the National Archives, where there are approximately … [ Read all ]

The Nuremberg Laws

Written on: September 1, 2010 | 5 Comments

Last Wednesday, I visited the Huntington Library in California to receive the original Nuremberg Laws on behalf of the U.S. Government. The laws were signed by Adolf Hitler and issued by the Third Reich in 1935. The Nuremberg Laws will become part of the National Archives Gift Collection.

The Nuremberg Laws were the anti-Semitic laws in Nazi Germany that stripped away their citizenship, forbid marriage to Germans, and created the swastika flag. The laws led to the death of six million Jews and millions of others in concentration camps. By 1942, much of the world, civilian and soldier alike, had been affected by these four typewritten pages.

Historian Peter Lowenberg describes the significance of the Nuremberg Laws:

The Nuremberg Laws represent a major step in the increasing marginalization of Jews from German life. In order to carry out the program of the Final Solution, the target group first has to be marginalized, and removed from the code of citizenship. This is a critical moment. This legally excludes them. The next step is humiliation — Kristalnacht, 1938 — then the wearing of yellow stars, then deportation, and then finally the death camps.

The laws should have been used as evidence at the Nuremberg Trials as proof of the war crimes committed by the Nazis. The American staff for Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson — who … [ Read all ]