Active users of the National Archives must speak their minds, and one component is attending the "users" meetings now hosted by NARA. Thanks to Marie Varrelman Melchiori, CG, CGL for reminding me. Since we're still out west, I won't be able to attend. Who else in the greater DC area will be able to participate?
As for the rest of us, please let's post our opinions on the NARA Blog. Unfortunately the comments are moderated, and Ol' Myrt here is unsure how much is censored.
Marie writes "The agenda for the meeting on Friday the 18th at 1pm in G-24 Archives 1 is on the NARA Blog at http://blogs.archives.gov/online-public-access/?p=4541." It was posted on 14 February and includes:
- A discussion of NARA’s Transformation Plan (read more on the Archivist’s blog)
- An update on NARA’s plans for the 1940 Census
- An update on the renovations at Archives I
- An update on the purchase of microfilm reader-scanner(s) for Archives I
- A discussion of plans for the potential move of pension files (see pages 6 and 7 of the minutes from our November meeting for more information)
- A discussion of the Library in Archives I
As soon as I post this blog, I'll copy the following text as a comment to the agenda postings at NARAtions:
Owing to our travel schedule out west, we are unable to attend the NARA DC Area users' meeting on the 18th. I am posting these comments and trust they will carry as much weight as if presented by my husband and myself in person.
Destroying the original 1940s enumeration pages is irresponsible. NARA's previous reply that this is what has been done with all post 1900 census records is bureaucratic rubbish. Responsible archiving dictates keeping our nation's documents in their original form. Something as essential the voice of the people, used to determine the number of members of the House of Congress is certainly classified as "our nation's documents". The voice of the people reports on our ethnic, religious and socio-economic conditions, as reported in the census, are better than a band of high-faluting wall-street analysts' reports. With their multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses paid despite this economic "down turn", it is clear they don't live in the real world. Who else can report on the "man on the street" point of view, if not those men and women enumerated one-by-one in a census?
Off-site storage, and the use of microfilm or digital images works fine, but the option to view pension files and census records in person is essential. You've documented cases where scanning isn't clear, and looking at originals is the best alternative for scholarly research. Future generations will want to verify that entire segments of the population weren't inadvertently missed, so don't destroy originals.
Future historians must have full access to originals, even if in some lower-cost storage facility in Wyoming (for example), to verify that current influences haven't effectively modified history by eliminating original documents considered unnecessary at this point.
Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.