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AHA Announcements



The efforts of the American Historical Association (AHA) and co-plaintiffs in State of Washington et. al. v. Russell Vought et. al. have successfully halted the sale of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in Seattle, Washington. A federal judge in Seattle blocked the federal government’s plan to expedite the sale of the facility and the removal of the records from the Pacific Northwest.

In January 2021, the AHA joined the Washington state attorney general’s office; the state of Oregon; the city of Seattle; 29 tribes, tribal entities, and Indigenous communities from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska; and 8 community organizations, historic preservation organizations, and museums in filing a lawsuit to halt the sale of the NARA facility in Seattle. The coalition filed nearly 600 pages of declarations from 79 individuals, including those written by historians and AHA members, testifying to the importance of the facility to the region.

In January 2020, the Office of Management and Budget approved a recommendation of a little-known federal agency, the Public Buildings Reform Board (PBRB), to sell the Seattle archives facility. As a result of the court order, the federal government cannot move forward with the sale until the court issues an ultimate determination. If the sale does take place as envisioned by the PBRB, the facility’s records, most of which have not been digitized, would be transferred to archive centers in Kansas City, Missouri, and Riverside, California-rendering public access to the records difficult, if not impossible, for millions of users in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

The delay provides time for the Biden administration to reconsider the facility’s closure and sale, which from all appearances seems to have been focused more on real estate than archival or community priorities.