Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Former Duke University Librarian Nominated To Be Archivist of the United States

On July 28, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated David Ferriero to be the next Archivist of the United States. As Archivist, Mr. Ferriero would lead the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which is the official United States repository for government documents and records. Mr. Ferriero is currently Director of the New York Public Library, and prior to that served as University Librarian at Duke University. Further details are available from the White House blog.

NARA was established in 1934 and is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary; a photo gallery of its history as an institution is available online. Among the many millions of documents that it preserves are the Charters of Freedom: the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution of the United States; and the Bill of Rights. A sense of the scope of other holdings can be had from the online subject index. Although its holdings are vast, only an estimated 1-3% of government records are held by NARA, and of these records, only a fraction is available in electronic form.

The picture above shows President Herbert Hoover on February 20, 1933 at the ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone of the National Archives Building. The ceremony was accelerated to ensure that Hoover, who had just two weeks remaining in his term, would have his name on the cornerstone.

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