The Coalition Column

News Briefs, October 2004

Bruce Craig, October 2004

Electronic Records System Competitive Contracts Awarded by NARA

In early August 2004, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced the selection of two teams of companies that will compete to design a system that will preserve the federal government’s electronic records irrespective of computer hardware and software formats. The Government Communications Systems Division of Harris Corporation and the Transportation and Security Solutions Division of Lockheed Martin Corporation each will receive about $10 million to develop a detailed design for NARA’s electronic records system. Next year, NARA will decide which firm will receive the massive multiyear contract (worth perhaps as much as $500 million) to develop, deploy, and operate an electronic records archive (ERA) system. NARA officials hope the ERA will be fully operational by 2011.

When completed, the ERA is intended to preserve electronic records even after the technology used to generate them has become obsolete. Both companies selected to prepare the new system envision the creation of archives-management software that would be able to operate with today’s computer systems as well as technology yet to be developed. According to NARA officials, the two approaches differ principally in how those records-management functions would be organized.
Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin predicts that someday, with the help of sophisticated computer technology, scholars will be able to access authentic electronic copies of documents from any location. While the system initially is to contain only records that are generated by federal agencies in an electronic format, paper records will also be digitized in time. Carlin declared, "Mark my words . . . ERA is going to change the world as we know it."
National History Coalition Joins Faulkner Case Brief

The "availability, preservation, and dissemination of prior research is essential for scholarly advancement." For this and other reasons, on June 30, 2004, the National Coalition for History (NCH) joined more than 30 scholarly and nonprofit organizations—including the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Historical Association, JSTOR, and the Organization of American Historians—and signed onto a brief of amici curiae supporting the National Geographic magazine in its legal battle relating to digital preservation and access. By supporting the amicus brief, these organizations hope to see the judicial opinion issued by a lower federal court in Faulkner v. National Geographic Society affirmed on appeal.
The amici curiae brief was prepared under the auspices of JSTOR, a nonprofit organization that is best known as an electronic archive of the full back-run of digitized versions of important scholarly literature, which it licenses from publishers and learned societies. The brief filed with the court essentially supports the Supreme Court ruling in the Tasini Case and argues that publishing programs like those of JSTOR and the National Geographic fall under its definition of collective work revision.

Military Service Records Transferred to NARA

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official repository for records of military personnel who have been discharged from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard. On July 8, 2004, Archivist of the United States John Carlin signed documents that would permanently preserve U. S. military service records of 56 million veterans who served the nation from 1885 to the present. Modern-era military service veterans’ records will be protected and made available for research at NARA facilities. Not only will these files benefit historians, genealogists, and biographers but also will help veterans and their families who may need the files to claim lifelong rights and entitlements that result from military service (for details, see http://www.archives.gov/media_desk/press_releases/nr04-66.html).
" Heroes of History"

Lecturer Announced

The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced that Harold Holzer, a prolific writer and lecturer and one of the nation's leading authorities on the Civil War era, will deliver the second annual "Heroes of History Lecture" on October 18, 2004, at the historic Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C.

In his lecture, Holzer, who has authored, co-authored, or edited 23 books and written more than 350 articles for both popular magazines and scholarly journals, will focus on the plain-spoken heroism of President Abraham Lincoln. Over the years, he has also received numerous honors including the Barondess Award of the Civil War Round Table of New York (1984, 1990, 1993), the Diploma of Honor from Lincoln Memorial University (1988), and the Award of Achievement from the Lincoln Group of New York (1988 and 1993).

During the event medals will be awarded to six high school juniors for their essays in which they discussed how the Gettysburg Address reflects America's founding ideas and and examined its relevance today.

— BC