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David Ferriero announces NARA departure date

It has been a wild ride in the archival world for David S. Ferriero.

This current Archivist of the United States has served for 12 years through some of the most challenging moments of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

From the release of the 1940 census in 2012 to the upcoming release of the 1950 census on 1 April this year. From the dramatic expansion of partnerships for digitization to the launch of a digital citizen-archivist initiative. From budget battles to COVID closures. From fights over facilities to fights over access to records that document insurrection.

Truly a wild ride.

And through it all, NARA has had a calm thoroughly professional hand at the helm in David S. Ferriero.

Who — sigh — yesterday announced his intention to retire in April, after the release of the 1950 census.

AOTUS to retire

His statement came in the AOTUS Blog on the NARA website:

After 12 years as the tenth Archivist of the United States, I have decided to retire, effective mid-April 2022.

As I wrote to President Biden, it has been the honor of a lifetime to serve my country once more, this time to lead the Executive Branch agency charged with ensuring that the American people can hold their government accountable and learn from the past by accessing the records of our country. My time at the National Archives and Records Administration has been filled with opportunities, challenges, and awesome responsibilities. Over the past several months, as I contemplated retirement and reflected, I am humbled and awestruck and so deeply grateful to the staff, partners, stakeholders, and you, the customers we serve.

I’m extraordinarily proud of what we have accomplished together during my tenure and hope that you too take pride in our efforts and results. We have become a leader in the government’s transition to a digital future, electronic records management, and the principles of Open Government. We’ve served you, our customers, in new and innovative ways, including increasing public access and engagement through the online catalog and social media; streamlining how we serve veterans; expanding access to museums, exhibits, and public programs in person and virtually; and establishing civic literacy initiatives. We’ve fostered strong relationships with partner organizations, and increased outreach to traditional and new stakeholders. Throughout, we’ve put the customer at the center of all that we do.

It is not easy to leave the National Archives with so much exciting work in progress. However, this profession is one of stewardship, where despite our enduring responsibilities, we are here for what amounts to a brief period of time. The National Archives has come a long way since 1934, and we have made great strides in the last 12 years, but the need for thoughtful and deliberate progress and transformation remains. As the Archivist of the United States, I know that the staff, partners, stakeholders, and our customers will build on our work together in ways I cannot imagine; as a citizen and veteran, I am thankful for those who will continue the noble work of the National Archives and Records Administration with skill, passion, and resiliency.

Deputy Archivist Debra Steidel Wall will serve as Acting Archivist until the President nominates and the Senate confirms my successor.

It’s been a privilege to work on your behalf. The strength and success of our organization would not be possible without your support and dedication to the National Archives’ mission. I wish you all the very best for the future and remarkable personal and professional success in the years ahead.

The Legal Genealogist joins the rest of the genealogical community in offering our thanks to David for all he has done, for his vision and his hard work. It’s been a pleasure for me personally to have had some small contact with him in connection with the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed), first as a student and for years now as an instructor.

All of us, as genealogists, have much to be thankful for in David’s steady leadership of our treasured archives. We wish him well, long life and much joy in his future private endeavors.

And we look forward to seeing who will step up and fill those shoes, as the 11th Archivist of the United States, going forward.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “AOTUS to retire,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 14 Jan 2022).

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