Publication Date

August 31, 2010

Perspectives Section

Perspectives Daily

Post Type

Archives & Records



In a letter to David Paterson, the Governor of New York, AHA Executive Director Arnita Jones asks the governor to sign recent legislation (S6846/A9928) that would help ensure the proper treatment of state records.  The bill, which was approved by the state legislature in late June, is expected to reach the governor’s desk on September 3rd. Noting that the proposed policy is modeled on the Presidential Records Act, the letter concludes that, “the records of the governor of New York should be preserved with the same diligent care that is now afforded to the records of presidents.”

If enacted, the legislation would clarify the procedures and policies that govern records of the governor, the executive chamber, and the legislature and civil departments, assuring that they are maintained under the highest professional standards and preserved for posterity. In the absence of such policies, previous governors have held custody of their records on leaving office. As a result, some records have been lost or destroyed, doing considerable harm to historians’ ability to reconstruct the historical record on matters of public policy.

Historians and other residents in the state of New York who share our concern about these issues should also contact the governor to add their support, either by mail to The Honorable David A. Paterson, Governor, Executive Chamber, State Capitol, Albany, NY 12224, or by e-mail to Mr. Peter Kiernan, Counsel to the Governor, at

Comments should be received in the governor’s office by September 13.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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Robert B. Townsend
Robert B. Townsend

American Academy of Arts & Sciences