TRY YOUR HAND AT BEING NIXON'S ARCHIVISTDr. Maarja Krusten
, the fomer archivist for the Nixon tapes collection at The National Archives
and Federal historian, has an excellent article up at HNN
, "How Hard Is the Job of Nixon Archivists? You Decide.
". Her article is worth reading for two reasons:
First, Krusten explains the dilemna faced by archivists trying to do their job when faced with political pressure from influential public figures:"Former U.S. Archivist Robert Warner once told me that "The Archives faces enormous political pressure but never admits that it does." Whether they deal with stand-up guys or bullies, archivists face them alone.
To the reported dismay of NARA’s Inspector General (IG), Archives officials did not turn to him or call the FBI after an apparent theft in 2003. Instead, they tried themselves to retrieve records removed by Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger.
It was not the only recent loss of a file. As the Senate prepared to hold hearings on the nomination of John Roberts to be Chief Justice, White House lawyers in 2005 screened files at NARA’s Reagan Presidential Library. They were left alone with documents at the Library because, as Berger also had said, they needed privacy while making phone calls. Soon, thereafter, archivists discovered that a Roberts file about affirmative action was missing. The IG was unable to establish whether the affirmative action file had been removed from the Library or merely misfiled by NARA staff
Secondly, she offers a test to readers to try to correctly classify a memo that is, I can attest, vintage Richard Nixon
:"How would you classify the December 4, 1970 memo? (If you wish, you first may look at a couple of paragraphs about NARA’s statutes and regulations in a brief description here.)
Here are your voting options.
1) document is purely personal or solely political and has no connection to a President's constitutional or statutory duties. It should be returned to him or his family. It then legally may be destroyed by them, filed away or deeded back to NARA, as personal property.
(2) document offers some personal observations and mentions politics and voters but relates to Presidential duties and is inherently governmental. It should be retained in NARA custody. You may consider restricting all or some portions for privacy, either the President’s or that of third parties, while the people still are alive;
(3) document is governmental, relates to Presidential duties, and should be released during the President's lifetime
Read the whole article here
Labels: historians, history, HNN, krusten, nixon