On September 20, 2008, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered the office of vice president Dick Cheney to preserve all records related to his office and the performance of his duties. The order came as a result of a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, together with the American Historical Associtaion, the Organization of American Historians, the Society of American Archivists, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and historians Stanley Kutler and Martin Sherwin.
On September 17, 2008, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee considered legislation (S. 3477) to make changes in major program areas at the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). While the committee approved a package of amendments to the bill, because of a lack of a quorum S. 3477 is not expected to be marked up until next week.
On September 17, 2008, the House of Representatives passed the “Civil Rights History Project Act” (H.R. 998). The legislation directs the Library of Congress and the National Museum of African American History and Culture to collect video and audio recordings of histories of participants in the Civil Rights movement. The bill would authorize $500,000 in fiscal 2009 to begin the oral history project.
On September 17, 2008, the House Information Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee held a hearing to inquire into the Bush administration’s failure to implement a law Congress passed last year mandating the creation of a Freedom of Information Act ombudsman office at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
Congressmen Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Tim Bishop (D-NY) this week introduced a bill (H.R. 6883) to consider the establishment of a “National Museum of the American People” in Washington, DC. The Museum would tell the story of the making of the American people, starting with the first migrations some 20,000 years ago and extending that story through the waves of migration and immigration that lead up to the present day.
The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) has announced it will meet on Saturday, September 27, 2008, to discuss declassification program issues.
The National Archives and the University of Maryland will host a conference about electronic records on October 7-8, 2008, in College Park, MD. The conference will feature panel presentations on topics such as the release of the National Archives Electronic Records Archives (ERA) System, Standards and Policies for Trusted Digital Repositories, Institutional Repositories: Lessons Learned, Partnerships in Research, Tools and Technologies, and DataNet: A Digital Preservation Network for the Future.
On September 8, the Citizen’s for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) along with two historians and three historical and archival organizations filed a complaint against Vice President Cheney, the Office of the Vice President (OVP), the Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein, and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), challenging their exclusion of a vast majority of Vice President Cheney’s papers from the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and the obligation to preserve them for the American public.
On September 11, 2008, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) opened formerly secret Grand Jury testimony transcripts from the trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg more than fifty years after they were indicted on espionage charges, convicted, and executed. The release of the transcripts resulted from a successful lawsuit filed by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, the American Historical Association, the American Society for Legal History, the Organization of American Historians, the Society of American Archivists, and New York Times reporter Sam Roberts almost eight months ago.
On September 5, 2008, the Center for American Progress Action Fund sent a letter from thirty prominent historians to the leadership of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate urging reform of the Presidential Records Act. The American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians and the National Coalition for History also endorsed the letter.