Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Let's Make Our Voices Heard!

I blogged about this earlier, but now it's even more critical. Please take one minute to add your name to the petition below -- by this Friday -- if you don't want your National Archives access severely curtailed. And please ask all your genealogical buddies to sign as well. So far, there are fewer than 7,000 signatures. We can do better than that!

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is proposing a reduction in the hours it is open to the public, especially weekend and weeknight hours. This will be a major hardship on genealogists and others who rely on access to our nation's archives. The proposed reduction in hours effectively reduces access time by two days each week, a hardship for researchers who rely on "after work" hours for research, and additional expenses for visitors researching in the DC area who would need to extend their stays.

At the FGS genealogy conference in Boston last week, the following proposal was presented to Dr. Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States and head of NARA. We encourage you to sign the petition online before September 8, write to NARA directly, and contact your representative. Please go to: (case sensitive). Additional contact options are listed after the text of the petition.

Dear Conference Attendee:
We were honored to have Dr. Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States attend the FGS/NEHGS 2006 Conference in Boston and to address us in the Opening Session on Thursday, August 31, 2006. Following his remarks, he was presented with a letter by the Chair of the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) addressing concerns about the proposed changes in the hours of operation for the Research Rooms at the National Archives.

It has come to our attention that very few of our constituencies are making their voices heard on this issue. This lack of response sends a loud signal to the Archives that this is not a serious issue and that closing the Archives on evenings and Saturdays is irrelevant. The RPAC has recommended the following suggestions for the Archives to consider:

1) To accommodate the needs of those who need access on Saturdays, we propose that you close one other day per week. This would be at your discretion. Other archives often close Sunday and Monday.

2) Users who need evening hour access could be accommodated by opening the archives later in the day, again at your discretion.

If you agree with the recommendations stated above, we are asking your support by immediately going on-line and adding your "signature" to our petition to substitute the hours of access and still help the archives to meet their need to consolidate their hours of operation. Before 8 September 2006, please go to: (case sensitive).

If you would like to send your own personal letter, send it prior to 8 September 2006. Address it to:

Regulations Comments Desk (NPOL)
Room 4100, Policy and Planning Staff
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

More information and contacts:
E-mail your representative in Congress through the "Write your Representative" webpage at

For comments sent by postal mail, NPOL will accept any comments on the rule postmarked by September 8. As long as the postmark is before or on September 8, NPOL will consider the comments.

Hand-carried delivery to the address in the interim final rule: Before 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Sept. 8.

Other methods of submission:
Via and fax: Comments should be sent before 5:00 Eastern Time on Sept. 8. The system might be able to accept comments until midnight Eastern Time (i.e., 11:59 p.m. or earlier), but earlier is better to avoid a comment being missed because of time calculations.


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