Archives I Congressional Hearing—NGS President testifies

RPAC Statement by David E. Rencher

In the early fall, regular patrons of Archives I on the DC Mall began to hear of proposals to convert existing  research areas of that vital facility into museum exhibits and gift shop expansion.  Concerns were heightened by the fact that planning for this project was progressing with no apparent effort to seek input from affected staff or users.


Representatives of the Archives I Users Group and the local chapter of APG (Marie Melchiori and Claire Bettag) were among the first to bring the issue to the attention of the genealogical community. 


A channel was opened to the professional staff of the Information Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee,  the entity exercising oversight of the activities of the National Archives.  This was accomplished primarily through the efforts of Jan Meisels Allen in her capacity as a Director of IAJGS and a key member of the Records Preservation and Access Committee.  The committee chose to have a representative of the genealogical community testify at an oversight hearing on 16 December 2009 entitled “History Museum or Records Access Agency?  Defining and Fulfilling the Mission of the National Archives and Records Administration.”  Jan Alpert, in her capacity as President of NGS was chosen to testify. 


Jan’s written and oral statements were coordinated with RPAC and are found at the Subcommittee web page listed below.  Additional statements for the record by Jan Allen (IAJGS) and David Rencher as Chair of RPAC were also developed.  David Rencher’s statement prepared for the record is at the link at the beginning of this entry.  Jan Allen’s materials are found at the IAJGS web site at:  at the “Latest Alerts” link.


The hearing consisted of two panels.  The first consisted of David S. Ferriero, newly confirmed as the tenth Archivist of the United States as well as the heads of the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress.  The second panel included representatives of various public interest groups as well as our representative.


The contributions of IAJGS and RPAC were specifically acknowledged in the Chairman’s opening remarks as well as those of other not specifically identified genealogical groups.


Links to the video of the hearing and to the various witness statements are found on the Subcommittee web page at:


Largely as a product of the activities leading up to this hearing, NARA held an “Open Forum” the day after the hearing inviting public input.  The Archivist has announced an intention to conduct at least an additional session before proceeding with the development of the original proposal.



Share Button

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *