History Hub: A 21st Century Model for Archival Reference

When the National Archives launched History Hub in January 2016, we hoped it would be a game-changing way to provide access to information and diverse sources of expertise.  I’m pleased to share that what started out as an experimental project has become an active community of researchers and experts.

The idea for History Hub began with research into how organizations can best communicate with and serve their audiences. We discovered that our customers expect instantaneous feedback, self-service information retrieval, and personalized interactions with organizations. We were inspired by the success that technology companies have had with online support communities; these platforms invite connections between staff, customers, and enthusiasts who bring their own expertise to the forum. In a resource-constrained environment, we were also excited by the possibility of enabling many-to-many interactions, helping us to serve researchers more quickly and efficiently by harnessing the collective knowledge of internal and external experts.  Informed by these insights and models, the National Archives decided to launch History Hub (history.gov), a crowdsourcing platform for people interested in researching history.  History Hub offers tools like discussion boards, blogs, and community pages to bring together experts and researchers interested in American history.

History Hub homepage

Homepage of History Hub, history.gov

We like to think of History Hub as both a community and an interactive knowledge base that scales and improves in quality over time.  Through History Hub, we aim to facilitate historical research, connect with audiences, enable contributions from people with a variety of expertise, and ultimately improve customer service to researchers.

So, how is our experiment paying off? History Hub has seen a steady increase in traffic and activity since launch, enabling continued growth of the knowledge base that powers the platform. With additional organizations coming on board to participate and provide expertise—and with search engines driving new visits as new questions are asked and are answered—History Hub is showing the potential to reach and serve millions of people per year. Here’s what has happened on History Hub since January 2016:

  • Questions asked: 968
  • Answers posted: 1,068
  • Registered users: 4,355
  • Unique visitors: 71,275
  • Pageviews: 3,811,702

This project is a collaboration across the National Archives, with leadership from our Research Services staff, the Office of Innovation, and IT. Our reference staff are excited by the potential of the platform as well as the opportunity to collaborate more closely with peer institutions. On History Hub, our staff have answered research questions alongside knowledgeable people outside of the National Archives, including citizen historians, scholars, and experts at other cultural organizations. For example, the Library of Congress has come together with NARA staff to provide researchers with more complete answers about their questions related to the 1895 Atlanta Exposition, the Revolutionary War, and Thomas Jefferson’s papers. In other cases, genealogists have assisted others researching their own family history and citizen historians collaborated to identify and interpret a servicemember’s insignia (note: this discussion was one of them most popular in the last year). We are really pleased to see evidence of this kind of many-to-many communication, which is a critical supplement to the one-to-one support the National Archives offers through phone, email, and research visits.  We’re excited to see how History Hub grows and what it will teach us about how archives can provide great reference services in the digital age.

Have you tried History Hub yet? Here are some tips for getting started:

Give it a try and let us know what you think!

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U.S. Coast Guard Logbook Scan-a-Thon

The featured scanning project from the National Archives Innovation Hub focuses on logbooks of the U.S. Coast Guard vessels that served in the Vietnam War. These vessels participated in Operation Market Time, an effort to patrol the South Vietnamese coast to keep supplies from reaching North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces.

The logbooks contain the highlights of each ship’s voyage, written up every four hours by the deck officer on watch. Information recorded may include incidents of shots fired, transportation of detainees, and contact with friendly or unfriendly vessels. Many veterans of the Vietnam War use these logbooks today to help establish their eligibility for veterans’ benefits.

Logbook cover for the USCG Point Glover

Logbook cover for the USCG Point Glover, December 1966. National Archives Identifier 75675099

To support this digitization project, the Innovation Hub recently held a scan-a-thon, inviting staff and the public to help veterans access the history of the ships they served on by scanning logbook pages. Thanks to our citizen scanners, we exceeded our goal of 2,000 pages and scanned a total of 2,314 pages in one day!

Once each month’s logbook is scanned, it is uploaded into our online Catalog and made easily available to everyone. View the completed logbooks in our Catalog.

Among the 20 attendees at the scan-a-thon were five Coast Guard veterans who scanned the logbooks of the ships they had served on in Vietnam. After the event, veteran Tom Livingston emailed to say:

“I had a great time in the Innovation Hub and I appreciate all of the hospitality shown to me by you and your staff. It was a thrill for me to touch some of the documents I wrote 50 years ago in Vietnam. I enjoyed it so much that I will plan another trip to DC this summer.”

Tom Livingston, former commander of the Point Slocum, points to his signature on a logbook page

Tom Livingston, former commander of the Point Slocum, points to his signature on a logbook page

Also attending were Scott Price, Chief Historian of the Coast Guard, and Emily Brockway from the Coast Guard’s Office of External Outreach and Heritage. The Innovation Hub hopes to work with these Coast Guard offices in the future as we continue the project.

Archives specialist Adebo Adetona gave a talk about the logbooks, how they were created, and how they are used today. The talk was streamed on Facebook Live. One attendee emailed later to say:

“I am glad that someone videotaped the lecture portion because the impact became more clear to me about the usage of the scans. Previously, I thought it was about Veteran pension benefits; now, I know that the scans support veterans made ill by Agent Orange exposure receive medical benefits rightfully due to them.”

Adebo Adetona delivers his talk

Adebo Adetona delivers his talk

Many thanks to all of our citizen scanners and scan-a-thon participants for helping to make these important records more accessible to our veterans. We estimate that there are over 100,000 total pages that need to be scanned for this project, so there is more work to be done. If you are interested in helping scan, visit us in the Hub! You can learn more about this project and how to volunteer at the National Archives Innovation Hub.

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Delighting Audiences, One Hashtag Party at a Time

Since launching the #ArchivesHashtagParty in August 2017, the National Archives has brought together over 600 archives, libraries, and museums around the world and reached millions of people on Twitter and Instagram. More than 48,000 tweets have used our campaign hashtags and the initiative has generated thousands of visits to the online National Archives Catalog.

Archives Hashtag Party

Each monthly hashtag theme is chosen to spur discovery of our holdings, interest in our mission, and hopefully to spark delight in discovering archival materials. Although many of these topics– #ArchivesSquadGoals, #ArchivesGameNight, or #ArchivesDanceParty–may seem lighthearted, they make history accessible on a personal level.

After we hosted #ArchivesCute in September, Vox wrote that the theme “provides a glimpse into what a vintage Instagram would have looked like…When we think of historical archives and photos from the past, most of us tend to envision stuffy documentary footage, stone-faced ancestors posing for family photos, or famous moments in history captured by journalists on the scene. We certainly don’t think of history as aligning with the way we view the world around us today.”

Initially, we had planned a six-month run, but we received such positive feedback from audiences and cultural organizations alike that we decided to open up the #ArchivesHashtagParty as regular monthly digital gathering. It’s especially gratifying to see that with each installment in the series, we further our goal to be a convening force for cultural organizations that raises the visibility and impact of archives around the world.

One of the primary goals of the National Archives Social Media Strategy is to “cultivate a community of practice,” and this has been one of the guiding principles behind the #ArchivesHashtagParty. We designed the parties to be inclusive and easy for archives of all types to jump in and feature their own collections. After we saw the power of these digital gatherings to mobilize our community, we realized we had an opportunity to highlight the role of archives by inviting guest organizations to co-host themes.

In February 2018, our first guest co-host was the National Museum of African American History and Culture, who hosted #ArchivesBlackHistory. Today, Friday, May 4, our co-host is the National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. We’ll share photos and stories about animal care and conservation with the theme #ArchivesAnimals. Through these kinds of takeovers we are able to broaden our range of subjects, enliven the series with fresh takes on engaging the public with collections, and reach new audiences.

NOLA Jazz Museum image of musician playing the accordion

The National Archives #ArchivesHashtagParty has ignited a social media phenomenon that is greater than the sum of its parts. Alone, each archive is a single voice in the crowded social media space; together we are attracting viral attention that acts as a multiplier of all of our individual audiences.

I am proud of the National Archives staff who have contributed to this campaign and have collaborated in a meaningful way, taking NARA’s social media efforts to a new, worldwide audience. They have also strengthened the global community of archives, bringing visibility to our collective holdings and the value of the work we do.

Learn more at: archives.gov/hashtagparty

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Thief Sentenced for Stealing Artifacts from the National Archives

By stealing World War II records from the National Archives and Records Administration and selling them to collectors, a thief victimized the American people and damaged the agency entrusted with safeguarding our nation’s records. Antonin DeHays recently received 364 days in prison and three years on probation, eight months of which are to be served in home confinement, along with 100 hours of community service, for the theft of records from the National Archives.

DeHays, a private researcher, stole and sold identification tags and related items from files of American servicemen whose planes were downed in Europe during World War II, as well as other original records from the National Archives at College Park.

Images of stolen dog tags

A few of the items stolen by Antonin DeHays from the National Archives at College Park

Judge Theodore D. Chuang sentenced DeHays at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, also ordering him to pay $43,456.96 restitution to those who unknowingly purchased the stolen goods. Chuang said DeHays committed “an egregious, morally repugnant crime” of “auctioning of our history to the highest bidder.”

As Archivist of the United States, I attended the sentencing and delivered a Victim Impact Statement, describing the tremendous damage that DeHays caused the National Archives, and asked for a maximum prison term as a consequence of the crime’s impact and in order to send a message to others about the serious nature of this offense.

I am pleased that Judge Chuang gave DeHays a stiff punishment for his crimes. His sentence sends a strong message to others who may contemplate stealing our nation’s history. The theft of records from the National Archives amounts to stealing from the American people, and it merits a severe penalty whenever it occurs. During his remarks, Judge Chuang stated:

Mr. DeHays, you have committed a very serious offense.  Your actions were an affront not only to every American who has ever served in uniform under the flag that stands behind me, but to every American child … who has ever pledged allegiance to that flag in their classroom, because it is for them that the National Archives are preserved, so that they can be inspired by our high points and learn from our low points, so as to make this nation and this world a better place in the future.  We must ensure that no one will commit the same kind of crime again.”

I remain shocked and angered that a historian would show such disregard for records and artifacts. As a veteran, I am disgusted that anyone would steal records and artifacts documenting those captured or killed in the service of their nation.

When a theft does occur, we rely on the Office of the Inspector General and the Justice Department to build a case and bring the perpetrator to justice. I want to thank them and recognize them for their hard work and collaboration identifying the loss and working to ensure the return of stolen items. We can always learn from a theft such as this, including any weaknesses and vulnerabilities in our processes. The security of the holdings of the National Archives is my highest priority and I pledge to continuously improve our policies and procedures to ensure our holdings are safe, while maintaining the balance of providing access to the records of the American people.

You can read my Victim Impact Statement and the remarks by Judge Chuang.

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Great and Good Friends: National Archives Loans Artifacts to Thai Exhibition

The National Archives played a major role in the grand opening last week of a new exhibition in Bangkok, Thailand, at the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles. An international group effort, the exhibit—“Great and Good Friends: 200 Years of U.S.-Thai Friendship”—features more than 40 records and gifts loaned from the National Archives.

The items exchanged between Thai royalty and American Presidents—including ceremonial letters, head-of-state gifts, and an 11-foot facsimile of the 1833 U.S.-Siam Treaty—have never before been exhibited outside the United States. They will be featured among manuscripts, musical instruments, textiles, and other 19th-century artifacts loaned from the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution.

Members of the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles exhibit loan international install team pose in Bangkok, Thailand

Members of the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles exhibit loan international install team pose in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 3, 2018. National Archives representatives are Presidential Libraries museum collections officer Kim Koons (rear, third from left) and National Archives supervisory conservator Abigail Aldrich (Photo courtesy of Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, Bangkok, Thailand)

The “Great and Good Friends: 200 Years of U.S.-Thai Friendship” exhibit opened on March 21, 2018, at the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles  in Bangkok, Thailand, and continues through June 30, 2018. United States Ambassador to Thailand Glyn Davies had the idea for the exhibition.

The title of the exhibit originates from the formal greeting—“Great and Good Friends”—used by U.S. Presidents in addressing the kings of Siam when contact between the two governments was limited to envoys and letters. The friendship between the nations began when an American sea captain entered the port of Bangkok and initiated an historic association between the two nations. These ceremonial gifts, on loan from the National Archives and our Presidential Libraries, reflect the continuing strong friendship of the American and Thai peoples.

We are pleased to share these and other historic treasures, and are honored to partner with the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Meridian International, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Queen Sirikit Museum on the ‘Great and Good Friends’ exhibit.

While many of the objects are in remarkable condition, particularly for their age, some items underwent conservation to improve their stability in preparation for display. Conservation staff at the National Archives provided professional oversight of the treatment services performed on the decorative objects, textiles, and textual items from the agency.

National Archives supervisory conservator Abigail Aldrich and senior conservator Lauren Varga share several items including a silver niello bowl

National Archives supervisory conservator Abigail Aldrich and senior conservator Lauren Varga shared several items including a silver niello bowl with gold trim given by King Prajadhipok to President Herbert Hoover in 1931. From the Collection of the U.S. National Archives, Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. (National Archives photo by Jeffrey Reed)

Other related resources within the National Archives Catalog include the daguerreotype of King Mongkut and daughter, from King Mongkut to President James Buchanan, 1861; a Siamese sword with scabbard, from King Mongkut to President James Buchanan, 1861; and a letter from King Chulalongkorn to President Theodore Roosevelt. A silver-framed photograph of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, inscribed by the King and given to President John F. Kennedy in 1963, is available to view via the online Kennedy Library catalog.

For more information on items within the exhibit from other sources, see the recent Library of Congress blog post that showcases the Library’s Thai instruments on loan. For more detailed information on the “Great and Good Friends” exhibit and a history of the relationship between the two nations, see the Great and Good Friends exhibition website.

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Celebrating Information Access: Sunshine Week 2018

Sunshine Week is an annual nationwide celebration of access to public information. It was  launched more than a decade ago by the American Society of News Editors, and is embraced by journalists, librarians, concerned citizens, civil society organizations, elected officials, and government employees as an opportunity to discuss the importance of open government and its impact.

Sunshine Week 2018 logo
The National Archives and Records Administration will host several events in observance of Sunshine Week. Events include an educational symposium, a week-long transcription challenge engaging citizen archivists, and a panel discussion. Sunshine Week allows the National Archives to highlight how it is a leader in open government.

Sunshine Week 2018 at the National Archives will begin with a special program on Monday, March 12, 2018, at 1 p.m. in the William G. McGowan Theater in Washington, DC. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont will offer the keynote address entitled “Championing The Public’s Right to Know.”  Several breakout sessions featuring government leaders and experts will focus on innovation in the Federal Government, congressional digital engagement, and open data.

Throughout Sunshine Week, the National Archives will also sponsor a special citizen archivist mission focusing on transcription of the Pentagon Papers, starting on March 12. The Citizen Archivist Dashboard offers more information on how to engage in the transcription challenge.    

To round out the Sunshine Week events, the National Archives will host a panel discussion entitled “Access and Transparency—Records Held at the National Archives” on March 14, 2018, at 2 p.m. in the William G. McGowan Theater in Washington, DC. The program focuses on how to request and access the restricted and non-restricted Federal records held at the National Archives. The panel of staff experts will discuss and answer questions about their work in making records available from our executive, legislative, and Presidential holdings.

The National Archives Sunshine Week events are free and open to the public, but registration is required for the March 12 event. The program will also be available via livestream from the National Archives YouTube Channel.

Learn more and find the full program of events on the FOIA Ombudsman blog.

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Make Access Happen

The National Archives and Records Administration has been able to accomplish some incredible digitization and outreach work over the years due in part to contributions and support by anonymous donors and the National Archives Foundation. Two examples of this are the World War I Wartime Films project, and the Ratified Indian Treaties vault digitization project.

Wartime Films: World War I
The digitization of WWI-era material, much of it never-before-seen by the public, was made possible through the generosity of an anonymous donor. This digitization effort included over 100,000 photographs and several hundred reels of film originally shot by the US Signal Corps on behalf of various armed forces units in the 1914–1920 timeframe. All material digitized is now available online in electronic format the National Archives Catalog.

Women's machine gun squad police reserves, New York City

Women’s machine gun squad police reserves, New York City. National Archives Identifier 31474833

To better engage and connect our audiences to this extensive collection of World War I resources, NARA developed the Remembering WWI mobile app. This app provides users with a way to interact with the content and was designed for a target user group of teachers, museum professionals, and digital humanities scholars. We wanted to reach teachers in hopes that the app could enhance lessons on WWI in the classroom, museums to reuse NARA’s WWI materials to enrich the narrative around their own local WWI collections and exhibits, and humanities scholars so they can utilize and reuse the metadata that were generated from this content.

We were recently informed by James Theres (Filmmaker, Producer, and Director) that he helped to produce new documentary called “The Hello Girls” which reuses much of our still images and silent films for his documentary.

NARA was fortunate to lead this national collaborative effort with participation from the Library of Congress and National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution – National Museum of American History, the WWI Centennial Commission, the American Association of State and Local History, and the National WWI Museum and Memorial. This collaboration will ensure our audiences are connected to an extensive collection of resources to further provide an enriched experience with the app.

Vault Digitization: Ratified Indian Treaties
Some NARA holdings are so historically significant and valuable that they are separated from our normal holdings and stored in vaults to increase security and limit physical access. Vault materials at our Washington DC location are among the most sensitive records in NARA’s collection: these records are not served to the public. Many of these records have not been digitized and are therefore effectively closed to the public.

With support from an anonymous donor and the National Archives Foundation, NARA is embarking on an effort to digitize the set of Ratified Indian Treaties from our vault holdings (377 treaties in all). NARA will perform much needed conservation work on these materials and digitize the entire contents of the file for each treaty. This will include scanning the Treaties themselves along with accompanying papers: the Presidential Proclamations, and the Resolutions of Ratification by Senate. We will finally be able to provide public access electronically to these materials on our National Archives Catalog. Having this content available publically further compliments NARA’s existing education efforts around the treaties and other Native American records.

Sample image from the Ratified Indian Treaty 133: Arikara (Ricara) - Arikara Village, July 18, 1825

Sample image from the Ratified Indian Treaty 133: Arikara (Ricara) – Arikara Village, July 18, 1825. National Archives Identifier 57698865

Sample image from the Ratified Indian Treaty 360: Sioux (Sisseton [Sissiton], Wahpeton [Warpeton]) - Washington, DC, 1867.

Sample image from the Ratified Indian Treaty 360: Sioux (Sisseton [Sissiton], Wahpeton [Warpeton]) – Washington, DC, 1867. National Archives Identifier 58234673

We are also working closely with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in support of their Nation to Nation exhibit. Starting in 2014 and rotating every 6 months, NMAI is displaying a new treaty to be exhibited to the public. Most recently, the Treaty of 1868 with the Navajo was installed on February 20th and will be on display at NMAI until May. It will then be on loan to the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock Arizona in time to commemorate the 150th anniversary of its signing.

Sample Image from the Treaty between the United States Government and the Navajo Indians Signed at Fort Sumner, New Mexico Territory on June 1, 1868

Sample Image from the Treaty between the United States Government and the Navajo Indians Signed at Fort Sumner, New Mexico Territory on June 1, 1868. National Archives Identifier 6173067

Our efforts in digitization are an important piece in achieving our strategic goal to Make Access Happen. Through these generous gifts, we are able to expand our digitization and online access efforts to make these public domain records more accessible for everyone to use, from teachers and local community groups, to museums and filmmakers.

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NHPRC and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Launch Digital Publishing Initiative

On February 14, we made a great match. Together with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and our own National Historical Publications and Records Commission, we announced the eight planning-grant recipients for our joint Digital Edition Publishing Cooperatives Program. These eight cooperatives will test out new ways of making historical records more readily accessible to scholars, students, and the American people.

Our business since 1934 has been not only to preserve records but to provide public access to them. Rather than sitting in boxes (or up in the cloud), records are most valuable when they are used.

That’s the whole point of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission: to find the best ways to make historical records public, to enable people to easily find, understand, and use the primary sources to tell the American story. Through grants by National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the National Archives has for decades played an essential role in building the nation’s historical infrastructure, funding hundreds of archival projects, microfilm editions, and some of the nation’s most important documentary editions in print and online.

Perhaps the best example is our long-time support of six major Founding Fathers projects, first through bound print editions available at libraries but now freely available via Founders Online.

Founders Online

Founders Online

Other projects like the Freedmen and Southern Society Project and the papers of Thomas A. Edison, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr are also exploring new ways of doing time-honored work.

Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project

Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project

This new NHPRC-Mellon partnership will help more documentary editing projects navigate the ongoing transformation from print to digital publication. Individual scholarly editions continue to find it difficult to build and maintain their own digital infrastructure for creating and disseminating their work, and most producers of digital scholarly editions lack access to predictable, affordable, and sustainable publication channels. That’s why, in fall 2016, NHPRC staff convened a working group on “Building a Sustainable Digital Edition Ecosystem” for the Mellon-funded Scholarly Communications Institute, held each year at Duke University. The TriangleSCI working group included historians, documentary editors, archivists, digital humanists, programmers, and university press / library publishers. Each brought new insights for building a sustainable future for the digital edition.

Scholarly Communication Institute

Scholarly Communication Institute

The NHPRC-Mellon Digital Edition Publishing Cooperatives Program, which we first announced in 2017, was a direct outgrowth of their deliberations. The initiative is notable for several reasons. First and foremost, it “does not seek to create or impose a specific framework or platform. Rather, it proposes a process for project teams to build—from the ground up rather than from the top down—a cooperative infrastructure for publication based on their own needs and capacities.” Further, the initiative seeks ways to “exploit the synergies among editions” that “enable them to interact.”

True to the vision of the TriangleSCI working group, the “infrastructure” includes more than just “technological systems (such as digital repositories or discovery tools).” It also includes human infrastructures–“shared standards, semantics, practices, and policies”–that can only be arrived at through discussion and compromise.

Recognizing that “modern digital scholarly editing practice does not take place in isolation,” the initiative addresses issues of longstanding concern here at NARA and in archives across the nation. How can digital editions take advantage of shared information resources–such as the Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) Research Tool, which is addressing a long-standing research challenge: discovering, locating, and using distributed historical records? A key premise of the initiative is that “a strong network of projects working cooperatively can help overcome the limits of single projects.”

As Chair of the Commission, I am proud to see NHPRC taking a leading role in catalyzing what is sure to be a far-reaching, and much-needed, experiment in how to build a sustainable publication infrastructure for ongoing and future scholarly historical editions. These Cooperatives are the R&D for new ways of thinking about our work to preserve and to publish. We have a great partner in the Mellon Foundation, and we have eight projects to see how we together can revolutionize the ways we build and sustain new digital editions of historical records.

Learn more and see descriptions of the eight grant winners here.

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The Emancipation Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

Banner with photo of Abraham Lincoln with handwriting introducing Proclamation

Despite this expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon Union (United States) military victory.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war. After January 1, 1863, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Moreover, the Proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.

The original of the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, is held in the National Archives in Washington, DC. With the text covering five pages the document was originally tied with narrow red and blue ribbons, which were attached to the signature page by a wafered impression of the seal of the United States. Most of the ribbon remains; parts of the seal are still decipherable, but other parts have worn off. For conservation reasons, it can only be displayed for a short amount of time each year.

In celebration of African American History Month, the original Emancipation Proclamation from 1863 will be on a rare special display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC from February 17 to February 19, 2018 from 10:00 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. each day. Admission is free and open to the public. Learn more about this important document, and view and download high-resolution images of the Emancipation Proclamation in the National Archives Catalog.

 

 

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National Archives Does Not Tolerate Harassment

An article recently appeared in the media about allegations of serious sexual harassment by former Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein. Weinstein served as the 9th Archivist of the United States from 2005 to 2008.

Shortly after becoming the 10th Archivist of the United States in 2009, I learned of the allegations against Weinstein, and I was deeply disturbed by them. Everyone deserves to work in an environment that is courteous, respectful, and free from harassing behaviors. That my predecessor could have used this office to mistreat members of the National Archives family leaves me angry, and shaped much of the agency’s ensuing approach to harassment.

Here is a short summary of what happened: In January 2008, National Archives officials received a complaint of misconduct against Weinstein from an employee and promptly reported the allegation to the White House Office of Presidential Personnel (because Weinstein was a presidential appointee), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office of Government Ethics, the Department of Justice, and our Office of Inspector General. The OIG and the FBI then conducted an investigation. Weinstein resigned in December 2008, citing health concerns. He passed away in 2015.

National Archives officials first received access to many of the investigative files last summer, when they were released by the National Archives OIG and the Department of Justice in response to a first-person Privacy Act/Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. These files indicate that Weinstein harassed several other women in addition to the employee who made the complaint. The matter ended with Weinstein’s resignation, and no criminal charges were filed. At the time, this issue was considered a sensitive law enforcement matter, and very few National Archives officials were informed of the investigation or its findings.

I have asked the OIG and the FBI to issue a public version of their reports, so the information can be available to everyone.

In 2010, I issued the National Archives’ first anti-harassment policy. In 2013, with the guidance of the agency’s Equal Employment Opportunity Director we updated and strengthened it – see NARA 396, Anti-Harassment Policy. That year we made annual anti-harassment training mandatory for all managers and supervisors. We made training available for all employees in 2014, and we recently made that training mandatory for all employees, contractors, and volunteers. We also created an Ad-Hoc Committee on Harassment to address allegations of harassment, sexual or otherwise. Since its inception in August 2013, all cases of alleged harassment have been brought before the Committee and addressed.

Freedom from harassment is an essential component of creating and sustaining an inclusive, empowering workplace culture that lets all employees contribute to the agency’s mission. We will not tolerate harassment of any kind.

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