Fulbright-National Archives Heritage Science Fellowship

Earlier this year, the National Archives, the State Department, and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board formalized a partnership to establish the first-ever Fulbright-National Archives Heritage Science Fellowship.

Together with Marie Royce, then-Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, and Paul Winfree, Chair of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, I signed a memorandum of understanding to support archival science education, conservation, and research. Heritage science is an interdisciplinary field that includes conservation, preservation, cultural heritage, archaeological science, and heritage management. The Fulbright-National Archives Heritage Science Fellowship will connect visiting Fulbright scholars with National Archives leaders to conduct cutting-edge research in the National Archives’ state-of-the-art Preservation Lab to translate theory into practice. 

Fulbright Students in Paris. National Archives Identifier 20006198

I am pleased to partner with the State Department and the Fulbright Program, and to welcome our first-ever Fulbright Heritage Science scholar to the National Archives. As the lead U.S. government agency in archival science, research, preservation, and conservation, this initiative is a great way for the National Archives to continue to advance and support collaborative research and academic engagement, and to help shape future leaders from around the world in these fields.

I recently provided the following welcome remarks to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board regarding our first-ever Fulbright Heritage Science scholar to the National Archives:

Greetings from the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington, DC, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. 

The National Archives is America’s record keeper. We preserve and provide access to the permanently valuable records of the government of the United States of America, Records help the American people: claim rights and entitlements, hold our elected officials accountable for their actions, and document our history as a nation. 

We hold billions of records in a variety of formats, including textual records, maps, charts, drawings, photographs, film and video, sound recordings, and electronic records. These records are in a variety of media. We hold parchment documents such as the Declaration of Independence, treaties that expanded the United States, as well as treaties negotiated with Native American tribes. We have film of landing on the moon to audio records of Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats and the Watergate tapes. In recent years record formats have expanded to include permanent federal posts on popular social media applications such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. These electronic records are the fastest growing records at the National Archives and represent over 500 different formats. 

The National Archives has over 40 facilities around the country. There are three main types of facilities: Archives that provide access and house permanently valuable records; Federal Record Centers that serve and store records for agency customers; and Presidential Libraries that provide access to a president’s records and are a museum for that president. 

Preservation Programs at the National Archives is responsible for protecting records by minimizing chemical and physical deterioration and damage to the records. Preservation minimizes the loss of information and extends the life of cultural property, which allows long-term access to all formats of permanent records. Preservation Programs is key to the successful delivery of NARA’s core mission: to drive openness, cultivate public participation, and strengthen our nation’s democracy through public access to high-value government records. 

The National Archives is committed to the preservation of permanent original records as they provide us with important information about our material culture and give a tangible connection to our history. The size and the dispersed locations of our holdings are challenges for ensuring their preservation. Research, testing, and scientific analysis contribute important data to the development of sustainable and evidence-based preservation strategies. 

We are pleased to start this new partnership with the State Department and the Fulbright Program for our first-ever Fulbright Heritage Science scholar to the National Archives. This partnership fosters the National Archives’ Transformational Outcomes to be an agency of leaders and opens our organizational boundaries to learn from others. It also shows the value that the National Archives places on records and cultural heritage to understand ourselves and build connections with others. 

Our organizations share the common goals of advancing the interests of the American people and furthering the pursuits of scholarship and research. Our partnership will support scholarship and applied research in archival records preservation and conservation and will bolster international cooperation in this field. 

The Fulbright-National Archives Heritage Science Fellowship will connect visiting Fulbright scholars with National Archives leaders to conduct cutting-edge research in the National Archives’ state-of-the-art Preservation Lab to translate theory into practice. 

Our goal is for this partnership to foster stronger connections between U.S. and foreign scholars, with archival professionals able to learn from one another, benchmark best practices, and access the vast resources available through the National Archives and Records Administration. 

As the lead U.S. government agency in archival science, research, preservation, and conservation, this initiative is a great way for the National Archives to continue to advance and support collaborative research and academic engagement, and to help shape future leaders from around the world in these fields. 

Through this partnership, we intend to encourage additional American and international Fulbright Program participants to apply for and affiliate with NARA to create ongoing linkages between Fulbright Program alumni and NARA. The Fellowship will offer one Fulbright Visiting Scholar up to one year of research in the United States to engage in heritage science research, applied heritage science research, or related fields; pair the Fulbright Scholar with one or more NARA preservation scientists who will offer collaboration, training, mentorship, and guidance; and provide an affiliation with NARA’S heritage science research and applied heritage science research.

The work of the Fulbright Scholar will be conducted out of NARA’s preservation lab at the National Archives at College Park in Maryland, as well as remotely, as needed. I want to thank our preservation staff for hosting and collaborating on this prestigious program and commend our Executive for Research Services, Ann Cummings, for her vision and direction that makes this collaboration possible. 

The National Archives is committed and perfectly poised to provide Fulbright Visiting Scholars the opportunity to access our vast holdings. We look forward to offering foreign scholars the chance to research in the United States in the fields of archival records preservation and heritage science to gain insightful knowledge and experience that will aid in making historical records available for future generations. 

This is the beginning of a beautiful partnership. 
Thank you. 

Learn more about the Fellowship, including how to apply here: https://cies.org/fulbrightnationalarchives

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