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NARA to offer digitized papers of Obama administration

In a press release today, The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced a “new model for the preservation and accessibility of Presidential records.” The Obama Foundation has announced its commitment to fund the digitization of all of the unclassified Presidential records created during the administration of President Barack Obama and NARA says that, “Instead of constructing a building to house the textual and artifact records, existing NARA facilities will house the original materials.”

In this new model, NARA will administer neither a museum nor a traditional “Presidential Library,” and will instead focus its resources and personnel on preserving and making accessible the Presidential records of the 44th President of the United States in digital format to the greatest extent possible.

…Once the records are digitized, NARA will store and preserve the original paper records, as well as the artifacts, in an existing facility that meets NARA’s high standards for archival storage.

… In addition to the paper records, NARA received more than 250 terabytes of electronic records, including approximately 300 million emails, from the Obama White House. Together, these “born digital” and the digitized materials will represent the largest digital archive of Presidential records.

Gary Price at InfoDocket has the complete text of the NARA announcement.

Senators Express Concerns Over Trump Admin. Records Compliance

Gary Price at InfoDocket reports that Senators Claire McCaskill and Tom Carper from the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs sent a letter to David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, "regarding concerns over compliance by President Donald Trump’s Administration with the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act."

The letter re-expresses concerns the Senators had already sent about reports that four senior Administration officials are maintaining active email accounts on a private email system, the President’s use of an unsecured smartphone, and White House officials’ use of social media platforms, such as Twitter, that may not comply with federal recordkeeping requirements.

The letter raises new concerns about the use by White House staff, including staff from the National Security Council and the Office of the Press Secretary, of the smartphone app known as Confide, which allows individuals to communicate digitally through messages that self-destruct, for work-related communications. The Senators say, "While our goal is not to encourage inappropriate leaks of presidential or federal records, prevention of any such leaks is not a recognized exception to federal recordkeeping requirements, nor does it outweigh statutory recordkeeping requirements."

The Senators ask the Archivist to respond to several questions about these reported activities including asking if NARA is aware of any instructions to Executive Office staff to avoid using email as a method of work-related communication.

EPA Provides Misleading Assurance of Information Preservation

An email sent by the press office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) incorrectly claims that “federal record keeping requirements” ensure that information withdrawn from the EPA website will remain “available to the public.”

Doug Ericksen, the head of communications for the Trump transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency, responded to reports of potential political vetting of scientific research at the EPA as "inaccurate" in an email sent by the EPA press office.

In that email, Ericksen said:

"Claims that science and research will be deleted are simply not true. Because there are federal record keeping requirements, there is a process in place for archive Federal website information so it remains available to the public if it is removed from the active pages."

This greatly oversimplifies federal record keeping requirements in a misleading way. There is no guarantee that website information removed by an agency will remain available to the public.

Existing federal record keeping requirements do not necessarily guarantee that information that is removed by a new administration from the EPA website will be either deposited with the National Archives (NARA) or that any that are deposited will be made available online by NARA.

It will be up to the EPA to determine whether or not the information it removes from its website fits the definitions that require its deposit with NARA. The presence of information on the EPA website does not automatically make that information a "record" that falls under the Federal Records Act [Public Law 81-754, 64 Stat. 578, TITLE V-Federal Records (64 Stat. 583)].

The disposition of EPA web content is guided by publicly available records schedules (List of EPA Records Schedules in Final Status, and EPA Records Schedules in Final Status), but, according to the NARA Guidance on Managing Web Records Background, it is ultimately up to the agency to determine what information fits the guidelines and what information does not.

Even if web-based public information is deposited, NARA does not guarantee that it will make that information available online.

NARA releases a coloring book of weird and wonderful patents


The National Archives (NARA) has just put out a coloring book of patents from their archives. And they’re pretty awesome! I would totally buy the public transit hammock! It’s a reminder that most patents are either contraptions for supremely lazy people (the saluting device!) or for inventions of the unnecessary (eye protectors for chickens?!). Check them out and post your creations on twitter using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections and tagging @usnatarchives.

In celebration of the New York Academy of Medicine’s #ColorOurCollections campaign this week, many museums, libraries, and archives hopped on the adult coloring bandwagon and created coloring books to share on Twitter. We’ve been participating by posting various images throughout the week for people to color, from Rosie the Riveter to the Faulkner murals.

Now we have a coloring book as well! We’ve chosen some of our favorite patents from our holdings for you to color

via #ColorOurCollections | AOTUS.

DOTD: Propaganda Posters at NARA

Document of the Day: The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has some propaganda posters from the the U.S. Information Agency online.

  • Propaganda Posters Distributed in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, ca. 1950 – ca. 1965. NARA. Record Group 306: Records of the U.S. Information Agency, 1900 – 2003.

    The Publications Division and its predecessor compiled these posters as a central reference source for visual propaganda distributed through the agency’s regional centers in Manila, Beirut, and Mexico City to populations worldwide. Posters were designed to promote U.S. political, cultural, and economic values, to expose alleged Communist falsehoods, threats, and crimes, and to strengthen understanding of and support for U.S. objectives in the Cold War.

Posters available online include The American Library Book Fair (Beirut), and The Spacemobile (New Zealand).

Thanks to Engadget which says of the Spacemobile poster:

Back when the US was in a race against Russia to send the first humans out there, NASA actively toured schools to spread word about what it does. That traveling unit of NASA employees is called the Spacemobile, and the image above is one of its posters. Yup, this really was from the golden age of space travel and not part of the agency’s vintage poster project. It was dated February 26th, 1965 to be exact, and it was used during the Spacemobile’s tour of New Zealand, as co-sponsored by the country’s Department of Education.