Reposted from RPAC
(Note: The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) is a joint committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, with input from other groups such as the Board for Certification of Genealogists. The Legal Genealogist serves as one of BCG’s representatives to RPAC.)
Time to Support the National Archives and Library of Congress
by Fred Moss, RPAC
On May 22, 2017, President Trump released more details about his proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Overall there were cuts to many of the programs that genealogists regularly use. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is targeted for a $16.6 million reduction in addition to the elimination of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), an archival grant making arm of the National Archives which provides local and state funding in the preservation of essential historical materials making them more accessible to the public. Since 1964 NHPRC has provided grants to every state and you can view a detailed list for the last thirty years at https://www.archives.gov/nhprc/projects/states-territories.
When the NARA budget is cut the hours at the Washington D.C., College Park, Maryland, and Regional Archives are usually reduced. (Note: And NARA has just announced that, as of July 22, Saturday hours are being cut at Archives I in Washington DC. Anybody who works during the week is now, officially, out of luck… — jgr) As staff cuts are made to meet the budget, our fees are often increased and the delivery time is extended for document requests.
Genealogists are the largest customer base of the National Archives. If we don’t support NARA, who will?
The Library of Congress is slated to receive a $56 million increase in the FY 2018 proposed Trump budget. In addition to the library being a world-class research facility, genealogists also are benefitting from Chronicling America which is digitizing early American newspapers from 1836 to 1922 and digitizing the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of cities across the United States which have survived. If your state newspapers are being digitized, it is likely in partnership with the Library of Congress. The budget negotiations will continue for months, so although the Library of Congress is well positioned in the Trump proposed budget, funding could be reduced before the final budget is approved. Let’s not take that chance.
As genealogists, we need to support the funding of projects which provide digitization and online access to historical documents. We have the most impact if we write our Congressional Representatives. On the RPAC website http://www.fgs.org/rpac we have provided a copy of this article with links to sample letters you can send in support of NARA, NHPRC, and/or the Library of Congress. With each sample letter we have provided a chart showing the actual FY 2016 and FY 2017 funding in comparison to the proposed FY 2018 budget.