Sunday, March 18, 2012

National Archives News

{NSGS News Editor: Below are excerpts from an article that was recently posted on GeneaNet Newsletter < > By Jean-Yves BAXTER. Accessed 14 March 2012. Links and citations are provided to allow access to the complete article.}

THIS STORY APPEARED IN Boson Globe - March 13, 2012 - By Bryan Bender

National Archives chief unlocks secrets

WASHINGTON - The man entrusted with America’s documentary heritage - including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution - learned the value of book collections in a North Beverly, Mass., flower shop called Conte’s.
The shop doubled as the town’s library. Two shelves nestled among the lilies and roses represented the entire book selection. “I can still remember sitting on the floor surrounded by flowers and choosing the books I was going to read,’’ said David Ferriero.
Ferriero now directs the National Archives in Washington, the first librarian to hold the post of official “collector in chief.’’ He not only oversees 12 billion pages and 40 million photographs that tell America’s story, he referees release of America’s oldest secrets, from the formula for invisible ink to battle plans for the Spanish-American War.

Ferriero’s primary job is ensuring the 275 executive branch agencies retain the most important government records for posterity. But he also oversees the National Declassification Center, created by President Obama by executive order in 2009. That makes him point man for an aggressive effort to try to release, by the end of next year, a backlog of an estimated 400 million records that are more than 25 years old.
Opening sealed government files to public scrutiny requires navigating a bureaucratic quagmire of Kafkaesque proportions.
“There is something like 2,500 separate classification guides in operation now in the US government,’’ Ferriero said. “What’s secret in one agency may not be secret in another.’’

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