Publication Date

November 1, 2015

Perspectives Section


AHA Topic

Research & Publications


Archives, Public History

In July, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a program of the National Archives that preserves and makes accessible the historical record of the United States, released a draft of a Preliminary Strategic Goals Framework. This document outlines four areas of focus: to expand access to archives and records with an emphasis on online publishing and digital collections; to engage the public in the NHPRC’s mission through such efforts as crowdsourcing and working with local archives; to extend the reach of the resources and opportunities provided by the commission; and to provide strong leadership in the field of historic preservation by developing best practices, promoting innovative programs, and pursuing new partnerships.

On September 15, the AHA’s Research Division responded to the commission’s call for comments with a statement affirming its continued support for the NHPRC’s essential work in sustaining American public culture. The AHA commends the framework for supporting ongoing scholarship among professional historians, archivists, and documentary editors. As the publications and digital communication landscape continues to develop, the NHPRC is right to point to the ever-increasing importance of digital publication and the need to encourage broad access. However, while open access and crowdsourcing are laudable goals, these efforts to engage the public must be made alongside support for high-quality projects and trained professionals whose efforts require significant sources of funding. The AHA looks forward to seeing how these plans evolve.

Sadie Bergen is editorial assistant at Perspectives on History.

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