Letters to the Editor

Effective Representation...

John F. Burns, February 1990

As president of the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), I would like to respond to Ronald Formisano's letter in the September 1989 Perspectives on NHPRC representation.

NAGARA was founded as an organization of state archives and records management programs, though it now includes strong representation from the local and federal government sectors. It is concerned with government archives and records management issues, and with the preservation and use of this nation's documentary heritage.

Because of the importance of government archival issues, it is not difficult at all to see why Congress added NAGARA to the Commission. I want to emphasize that there was none of the maneuvering that Professor Formisano's letter suggests. NAGARA openly petitioned the Commission to join its membership and later, when contacted by the Congressional oversight committee considering NHPRC legislation, we advanced arguments for our joining. We did not push, petition, or lobby. We certainly never asked for representation at the expense of the AHA or anyone else. Congress added NAGARA to the Commission's membership because of the importance of governmental archival issues with which the Commission must deal, and because of our expertise and leadership in the field.

NAGARA does not represent merely its own professional interests, as the letter implies; rather, it represents government archival interests and concerns, broadly defined. Our representative, Dr. William S. Price, Jr., Director of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History, is widely known and respected by people in the archives and history fields. He has joined NHPRC's Publications Committee, not its Records Committee, further evidencing his, and our, broad interests.

NAGARA is proud to be a member of the NHPRC. We believe our membership will strengthen and improve its work. We intend to work, as we have in the past, for expansion of its appropriations.

NAGARA has worked with the AHA and other historical organizations on key archival issues, e.g., independence for the National Archives and appointment of a well-qualified Archivist of the United States. We are a member of the NCC, headquartered at the AHA's offices. Professor Formisano is mistaken in his assertion that NAGARA's joining the NHPRC has unfortunate implications for historians. Quite the opposite is the case. We now have one more forum for working together to improve historical records management in this nation. We hope the AHA and its members share our perspective.

John F. Burns
President
The National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators