Publication Date

April 1, 1995

On February 8 the AHA issued a press release opposing the proposed nomination of John W. Carlin for U.S. Archivist. An excerpt from the press release follows.

The American Historical Association regretfully opposes the proposed nomination of John W. Carlin for U.S. Archivist The Independence Legislation for the National Archives enacted in 1984 (PL 98-497) clearly states two fundamental qualifications for appointment to this position: (1) the nominee must not have had a partisan connection; and (2) the nominee must be professionally qualified for the position. John Carlin possesses neither of these immensely important credentials.

The need for these two qualifications is put clearly in the April 3, 1984, Senate Report on the Archives Legislation:

Professionalism is absolutely essential to proper performance of archival and records management functions… Our ability to preserve and make available a full and rich documentary historical record depends on archivists determining what records are of lasting value and which are not, as well as determining which records are timely for opening to the public and which are not If these decisions are made arbitrarily or motivated by political rather than professional considerations, the historical record could be impoverished, even distorted.

The search for Archivist has been a long and arduous process that has engaged all of us for almost two years. It will be a sad outcome to that process if the person selected is so closely associated with a particular administration that he or she would be most likely to be replaced the minute a new administration came into office. Mr. Carlin, as head of President Clinton's election campaign in Kansas, will inevitably be connected in the public mind to both the Democratic Party and President Clinton himself. It will be impossible to avoid the perception that decisions made by the Archivist's office would be influenced by partisan considerations.

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