Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress Meeting

On December 6, the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress (ACRC) met at the U.S Capitol Visitors Center.

The Advisory Committee is comprised of the officials in Congress responsible for its records (Clerk of the House, Secretary of the Senate, Senate Historian, and House Historian) and the Archivist of the United States, who is responsible for the administration of the archived records of Congress. House and Senate leadership appoint public members of the committee, who represent historians, political scientists, congressional archivists, and other users and caretakers of legislative records.

Clerk of the House Lorraine Miller began the meeting by recognizing the recent

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appointment of Matthew Wasniewski as the Historian of the House. She also announced that the Office of History and Preservation had been renamed the Office of Art and Archives. Ms. Miller noted that because of the turnover caused by the election

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that her office had dealt with over 210 office moves in recent weeks. House Archivist Robin Reeder is working with departing House members and committees on the disposition of their records.

Secretary of the Senate Nancy Erickson noted that education and outreach was a major priority for her office during the upcoming transition to the 112th Congress. She stated that 17 out of the 18 departing Senators had already selected a repository for their records. She had sent a request to the Center for Legislative Archives (CLA) for the declassification of 1.6 million Senate records that are more than 25 years old. She also noted the tremendous work done by the late-Senator Robert C. Byrd’s staff in amassing 1,300 cubic feet of records which were sent to the Robert Byrd Center for Legislative Studies.

Archivist of the United States David Ferriero updated the ACRC on the reorganization taking place at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Of particular interest to the committee was the placement of the CLA under a new unit called the Office of Museum and Library Services. The Archivist stressed the movement of CLA in no way should be interpreted as a lessening of his commitment to the office and its mission. Ferriero stated, “This area is a passion for me.” The ACRC adopted a motion to endorse the plan with assurance that the CLA will not be adversely affected by NARA’s reorganization.

The ACRC next heard a report from Robert Horton, Chair of the Task Force on Next Generation Finding Aids. The Task Force is charged with the development of enhanced search techniques to improve public access to the records of Congress. Horton presented the preliminary findings of the Task Force and stated his expectation that a final report will be ready by mid-February 2011.

Ashley Smoot with the CLA reported that the CLA will be conducting a “web harvest” or snapshot of 620 House and Senate websites which will be available to the public in February.

Richard Hunt, Director of the Center for Legislative Archives, presented his office’s annual report. As of the end of fiscal year 2010, the Center’s holdings consisted of over 200,000 cubic feet of records, equivalent to 522 million pages.