News Briefs, January 2006
In mid-November the United States Senate joined with the House of Representatives and passed by voice vote the conference report accompanying H.R. 3058 (H. Rep. 109-307), the Treasury and Transportation appropriations bill for fiscal 2006. By agreeing to this report, Congress has agreed to appropriate funds for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). President Bush signed the bill into law (P.L. 109-115) on November 11, 2005.
Funding for NARA was set at just over $283 million. Congress also appropriated $7.5 million ($5.5 million for grants and $2 million for administration and staffing) to the NHPRC. Additionally, the bill provides $37.91 million for the Electronic Records Archives project, which includes $22 million in multi-year funds that must be spent by September 2008. In the construction line item, $9.8 million will go for the LBJ presidential library plaza renovation, the next phase of the construction of the Alaska regional archives facility, and for redesign planning for the JFK presidential library. In addition, $4 million will go to the Nixon Library: $2 million for the moving of papers to its California location and $2 million for the construction of the archival facility to house them.
As regular readers of this publication are aware, the National History Coalition’s advocacy effort on behalf of the NHPRC this year was something of a challenge for the history and archives community. Now, after all is said and done, a special thanks goes to the coalition’s member organizations, including the American Historical Association, for signing on to a letter forwarded to all the conferees urging them to adopt the House budget recommendation ($5.5 million in grants; $2 million for administration and staffing) for the NHPRC.
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation (H.R. 4145/S. 1959; P.L. 109-116) that would authorize the Architect of the Capitol to commission a statue of her likeness to be placed in National Statuary Hall. The move will make Parks the first African American woman to be represented in this place of honor where states have placed statues depicting notable people in their history.
Ironically, Parks’s likeness will be placed not just among statues of former presidents of the United States but also individuals who played a prominent role in the former Confederacy, such as Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. The bill gives the Architect of the Capitol two years to obtain a suitable statue.
Rosa Parks died of natural causes October 24, 2005, at her home in Detroit. She was 92 years old. She was the first woman to lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded 19 emergency grants for projects that will aid in the recovery and preservation of cultural resources in the Gulf Coast region affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The amount of all the grants combined is $565,000, with individual awards ranging around $30,000. They are the first to be awarded in the endowment’s special program announced in September 2005, which provides hurricane relief to libraries, colleges, universities, museums, and other cultural and historical institutions.
Some of the recipients include the New Orleans Museum of Art, for the conservation care of more than 30,000 items, including works by Gauguin, Warhol, and Monet; Tulane University for support treatment of archival collections about women in the Gulf South region; Beauvoir in Biloxi Mississippi, to protect historical artifacts recovered from the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library; and the Alabama Humanities Foundation, to support disaster relief to small libraries and cultural information centers in Mobile County and other southwestern parts of the state. Additional information about the NEH and its grant programs, as well as a complete list of all the recipients, is available online at http://www.humanities.gov.
On November 1, 2005, Representative Mike Ross (D-Ark.) introduced legislation (H.R. 4192) that would authorize the secretary of the interior to designate the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home, located at 117 South Hervey Street, in Hope, Arkansas, as a National Historic Site and a unit of the National Park Service. The legislation has been referred to the House Subcommittee on National Parks for further review. To date, no similar or companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate.
On October 20, 2005, Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein announced the appointment of David McMillen to the newly formed position of external affairs liaison. McMillen began working at NARA on October 30, 2005.
McMillen will be responsible for the planning and continued management of a program to partner with a number of allied professional, technical, and scientific organizations. In addition, he will be responsible for ensuring that the mission, goals, policies, and services of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) are clearly communicated to audiences and that partnering opportunities are thoroughly explored.
McMillen comes to NARA from the professional staff of the House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform, where he served since 1995. Prior to working in the legislative branch, McMillen was a demographer and statistician at the United States Census Bureau. Additionally, he worked as a liaison with members of the academic community who analyze household survey data. McMillen earned his BA in history and literature from West Liberty State College in West Virginia; his MA in literature and linguistics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh; and his PhD in applied social statistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has published extensively in professional journals on the subject of electronic information, data sharing and privacy, and the census.
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