Sunday, April 25, 2010

Attention: U.S. archivists (New Yorkers and Utahns excepted)

On April 19, S.3227, the Preserving the American Historical Record (PAHR) bill, was introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Carl Levin (D-MI). This is a huge step forward: although PAHR legislation has twice been introduced in the House of Representatives, is the first time that the Senate has taken action on PAHR, which, if passed, will create a formula-based grants program supporting archival programs in every state in the Union.

At present, only five other Senators have signed on as co-sponsors:
  • Robert F. Bennett (R-UT)
  • Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY)
  • John F. Kerry (D-MA)
  • Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)
  • Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
More co-sponsors are needed! If you live or work in any state other than New York or Utah, please take a moment to re-acquaint yourself with PAHR and write letters (sample text here) asking each of your Senators to support this important legislation. Better yet, call each Senator's Washington office, ask to speak with the Legislative Director, explain how PAHR will benefit your state and your repository (handy talking points here), and ask that each Senator become a PAHR co-sponsor. (FYI, you'll find your Senators' contact information here.)

When writing or calling, be sure to specify that your Senator should contact the following people in order to sign on:
  • In Senator Hatch’s office: Bryan Hickman, 202-224-5251, Bryan_Hickman[at]
  • In Senator Levin’s office: Harold Chase, 202-224-6221, Harold_Chase[at]
We archivists know that records are essential to documenting the rights of citizens, keeping government honest and transparent, promoting wise use of resources, and safeguarding our history and culture, and we now have the chance to ensure that essential records get better care and are made more widely accessible. C'mon, people, let's make PAHR happen this year!

One last thing: if you are a New Yorker or a Utahn, don't rest on your laurels. Is your Representative a PAHR co-sponsor? If not (click here and scroll down for list), a letter or a phone call is definitely in order. And if your Representative has indeed signed on, consider writing your Representative -- and your Senators -- brief but heartfelt letters of thanks.

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