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  • NARA's Preservation EXPOsed! Added July 24, 2014

    The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently held its annual Preservation EXPOsed! event in Washington, DC, highlighting a diverse slate of preservation specialists and topics. The event, which archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero introduced, was made up of three elements: short talks given by conservation professionals about their work; exhibits and displays about the conservation of important documents at NARA such as the Declaration of Independence; and tables...

  • National Archives Seeks Comments on Rule to Increase Copying Fees Added July 24, 2014

    On February 26, 2007, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) published a proposed rule announcing its intention to raise its fees for reproducing federal records and historical materials in NARA's holdings. The proposed rule covers federal records created by other agencies that are in the National Archives, donated historical materials, presidential records, Nixon Presidential historical materials, and records filed with the Office of the Federal Register. The proposed rule, ...

  • Historical Advisory Committee Reports on Declassification Bottlenecks Added July 24, 2014

    The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation to the Department of State (HAC) has recommended, in its annual report, a thorough reconsideration of the declassification guidelines that govern the release of State Department documents through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Released in June 2013, the HAC report "notes with great concern" that NARA's National Declassification Center is facing a backlog of 358 million pages that are either 25 years old or...

  • National Personnel Records Moving to a New Home Added July 24, 2014

    The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), located at St. Louis, Missouri, is moving more than 100 million records, which occupy 2.3 million cubic feet of shelf space, to a new $112 million facility. The building will open its doors in May 2011, when the workforce of 800 will start moving in. The entire move of personnel and records will take about 17 months. The new location will store records currently housed at three different ...

  • Artifacts as Pixels, Pixels as Artifacts Added July 24, 2014

    What are historians to do? The evolving digital environment poses a challenge for all of us who work with photographs; in part because digitized archives make images more accessible, but also because new technologies have changed just what a photograph is. In some ways, the emergence of digital images echoes the transformation that happened in the 1860s, when the singular media of the daguerreotype, tintype, and ambrotype gave way to glass negatives that could be used to make unlimited numbers ...

  • Letters to the Editor: Founders' Papers Added July 24, 2014

    Editor's Note: Perspectives on History welcomes letters to the editor on issues discussed in its pages or which are relevant to the profession. Letters should ideally be brief and should be sent to Letters to the Editor (or mailed to Letters to the Editor, Perspectives on History, AHA, 400 A Street SE, Washington, DC 20003-3889) along with full contact information. Letters selected for publication may be edited for style, length, and content. Publication of letters does not signify endorse...

  • A National Treasure at the Brink Added July 24, 2014

    From the Viewpoints column in  Perspectives on History. The US National Archives are in serious trouble, according to a recent survey, with grave implications for democratic governance and timely historical research. Nearly 800 historians responded to the survey, conducted by the Society for the History of American Foreign Relations, and their responses highlighted both the central importance of the US National Archives and its steady deterioration. While covering a wide range of...

  • Scanning Historical Images: Some Practical Advice Added July 24, 2014

    Look at the Original Scanning can be extremely useful in helping to save wear and tear on primary documents, original slides and photographs. Before you start scanning, determine if any dust or ink needs to be removed from original slides and negatives; high-end photography stores and websites sell cleaning products that help remove without scratching the originals. If you are scanning a newspaper or printed photo, you may get a moiré pattern–an accentuation of the original's hal...

  • State Department's HAC Report Added July 24, 2014

    The 2012 annual report of the Historical Advisory Committee to the Department of State (HAC), covering the year 2011, notes that the State Department Office of the Historian has made a commendable effort to improve both the quality of its core reference series, The Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) , and its timeliness. However, the committee notes, the office achieved greater success in the former than the latter, and is falling behind its mandated and internal targets. The For...

  • Processing the Past Added July 24, 2014

    Editor's Note: While historians generally recognize their dependence on archival records, they rarely pause to reflect on the way archives shape the materials they need and how the interests of archivists and historians have diverged in recent decades. In their new book, Processing the Past: Contesting Authority in History and the Archives, Francis X. Blouin, Jr. (Bentley Historical Library) and William Rosenberg (Univ. of Michigan), explore the growing divide between historians and archivist...