Advocacy

The AHA Responds to the Relocation of the National Archives for Black Women History

Debbie Ann Doyle, September 2014

On June 17, 2014, AHA President Jan Goldstein and Executive Director Jim Grossman sent a letter to Jonathan Jarvis, the director of the National Park Service, regarding the relocation of the National Archives for Black Women’s History. The archives were originally housed at the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site in Washington, DC. In February, the archives were relocated to the National Park Service Museum Resource Center in Landover, Maryland. The carriage house where the archives had previously been housed requires extensive renovations to protect the collection.

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Historian Peniel E. Joseph and Washington Post columnist Colbert I. King expressed concern about the move. In a February 28 letter to thePost, Jarvis expressed the Park Service’s commitment to the preservation of the archives, writing, “The Bethune archives belong at the Bethune House, but not at the expense of losing them.” The Association acknowledges the competing interests between housing the archives in their historic context and storing sensitive archival materials in a location with appropriate environmental controls, and notes with encouragement that the Bethune house website indicates that NPS is continuing to assess the feasibility of returning the documents to the carriage house. The letter urges the NPS to return the archives to the historic site if feasible.

A version of this article appeared on AHA Today in July 2014.

Debbie Ann Doyle is the AHA’s coordinator, committees and meetings. She staffs the Research Division.

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