Archive for December, 2013

Patent of the Month: Illuminating-Devices for Christmas Trees

Written on: December 19, 2013 | 1 Comment

Happy Holidays!

Illuminating Flame Page 1

Illuminating-Devices for Christmas Trees, Patent 194421, August 21, 1877. Records of the Patent and Trademark Office. National Archives and Records Administration (Page 1)

Illuminating Flame Page 2

Illuminating-Devices for Christmas Trees, Patent 194421, August 21, 1877. Records of the Patent and Trademark Office. National Archives and Records Administration (Page 2)

Illuminating Flame Page 3

Illuminating-Devices for Christmas Trees, Patent 194421, August 21, 1877. Records of the Patent and Trademark Office. National Archives and Records Administration (Page 3)[ Read all ]

Rubenstein Gallery Opening

Written on: December 12, 2013 | 2 Comments

Last night we opened the David M. Rubenstein Gallery, the home of our new Records of Rights permanent exhibit.

Records of Rights exhibit

The new David M. Rubenstein Gallery, hosting the “Records of Rights” permanent exhibit, which discusses the rights of women, immigrants, and African Americans.

David Rubenstein is a passionate advocate for the National Archives and for educating all Americans about our shared history. His many gifts to us and to other cultural institutions have done much to promote public awareness of our nation’s history. And we are deeply grateful to him for his generous gift to the Foundation for the National Archives that made possible this new gallery, which showcases the long struggle to secure and exercise individual rights for all Americans.

Ribbon Cutting

Ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Rubenstein Gallery. From left to right: President of the Foundation’s Board of Directors A’Lelia Bundles, Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, David M. Rubenstein, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. (Photo by Margot Schulman from the Foundation for the National Archives)

David is a firm believer in the power of public-private partnerships and I am thankful for the support from our Senate and House Appropriations Committees in matching his gift for this project.

The centerpiece of “Records of Rights” is the 1297 Magna Carta, which David purchased five years ago because he believed the one copy of this … [ Read all ]

What is Past is Prologue: Appointing the first Historian of the National Archives

Written on: December 6, 2013 | 3 Comments

Earlier this year, Jessie Kratz was appointed Historian of the National Archives—our first!  Jessie has been with the Archives nearly 15 years—most recently on staff at the Center for Legislative Archives.

Over the years, many staff members have informally filled that role in various capacities and I want to thank them for recognizing the importance of our own history.  Ironically, the National Archives, the repository of the nation’s history, had no historian of its own.  I have come to appreciate the work that the historians across the Federal government do and am so pleased that we join the ranks of those Agency and Congressional historians.

Upon accepting the job, Jessie’s first priority was to create the National Archives History Office to ensure our agency’s history is retained. She is working to make sure the official records created by the National Archives are preserved and accessible for research.

What is Past is Prologue statue

“What is Past is Prologue”, inscribed on Future (1935, Robert Aitken) located on the northeast corner of the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of user: Salticidae on Flickr

Jessie’s office will also be accepting non-record material— this includes memoirs, collections of original photographs and letters, memorabilia, diaries, maps and other historical documents that help tell the story of the National Archives but would not otherwise be preserved in the official records of the National Archives. Please contact her if … [ Read all ]

Declassification Prioritization

Written on: December 2, 2013 | 5 Comments

The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) recently hosted an open meeting to discuss its recommendations to the President on Transforming the Security Classification System, focusing on declassification prioritization. PIDB continues to advocate for public discussion on the report. This meeting represented opportunities to highlight recommendations from the report, continue the conversation about the current declassification system, and discuss the topics citizens want prioritized for declassification.

top secret stamp

The meeting also hosted a panel discussion on “Perspectives on Prioritizing Government Records for Declassification and Public Access,” featuring Stephen Randolph, Historian at the Department of State; Joseph Lambert, Director of Information Management Services at the Central Intelligence Agency; Michael Dobbs, Journalist and Scholar-in-Residence at the Holocaust Museum; and Stephen Aftergood from the Federation of American Scientists.

My opening remarks at the meeting were an opportunity to emphasize the importance of the National Archives’ role in this democratic process, and to highlight the work we are doing to eliminate the declassification backlog and modernize records management practices:

When people have open access to government information, they are able to hold government accountable for its actions. This is an essential part of our democracy. As Thomas Jefferson wrote from Paris in 1789: “whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government…whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on … [ Read all ]