Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Red Alert: Support NHPRC Reauthorization by This Wednesday!

Below you will find the text of an email from SAA Headquarters. Please read it and consider lending a hand in the battle to reauthorize the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Georgia is a state represented by a member of the Subcommittee to reauthorize NHPRC! Please consider faxing a letter of support to Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R, GA). Contact information and tips on how to write a letter can be found below.


You live in a state represented by a member of the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and the National Archives – and we need your help! 
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) is due for reauthorization in Congress this year – a year in which fiscal issues are being hotly debated and very serious situations are developing for such essential programs as NHPRC.
On Thursday, July 1, at 2:30 Eastern time, the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census and the National Archives will mark up (i.e., vote on) H.R. 5616, an amended bill that is now more similar to the comparable Senate bill (S. 2872).  The Senate bill still calls for reauthorization of NHPRC at only $10 million (the same level of authorization that has existed since 1991!).  The new version of the House bill calls for reauthorization at $20 million – a more appropriate level. 
The important next step in this process is to make sure that the subcommittee – on July 1 – votes to approve the version containing the $20 million authorization.  Frankly, there are some strong anti-spending voices on the subcommittee – so it is critical that we let Chairman Lacy Clay (D-MO) know that the archives, history, and genealogy community wants to see this bill passed. 
If you live or work in the district represented by a member of the subcommittee, including Chairman Clay, please fax a message of support for NHPRC reauthorization at $20 million – no later than Wednesday evening! 
Members are:
Carolyn Maloney (D, NY)
Steve Driehaus (D, OH)
Henry Cuellar (D, TX)
Judy Chu (D, CA)
Eleanor Holmes Norton (D, DC)
Danny Davis (D, IL)
John Mica (R, FL)
Patrick McHenry (R, NC)
Lynn Westmoreland (R, GA)
Jason Chaffetz (R, UT)
Call or send faxes to:  Chairman William Lacy Clay, Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census and the National Archives, B-349C Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC  20515; Fax:  202-225-4784 or  Email:  Send as a pdf to Anthony.Clark@mail.house.gov
Important Points to Stress in Your Letter:
  • H.R. 5616 (new version of H.R. 1556) calls for reauthorizing the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) at the funding level of $20 million. It is scheduled to be marked up on Thursday, July 1, at 2:30 pm ET.
  • IF YOU ARE WRITING TO A SUBCOMMITTEE MEMBER, URGE HER/HIM TO ATTEND THE MEETING AND VOTE IN FAVOR OF H.R. 5616 IN ORDER TO SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVE THE CONDITION OF, AND ACCESS TO, THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL RECORD.
  • NHPRC is the only federal agency that provides grants specifically for archives, which it does through competitive grants for projects with a national scope and a modest state/national partnership grant category for grants to states.
  • NHPRC is a good investment of federal dollars.  All grants must provide a 50% cost share in local funds.  NHPRC grants often serve as “seed money” to start archives programs or additional archival activities.  Many institutions then continue to support the program with their own dollars after the grant period.
  • NHPRC stimulates jobs in the archives and records management profession.  Historical records projects are “jobs heavy.”  On the average, 75% of NHPRC funds for projects are used to pay for staff.
  • Provide information about why NHPRC is important to your region/state/institution, or tell a personal story about your use of a record or its importance to you.
Here’s an example of a compelling story about the good that NHPRC has done:

The City of Seattle (Washington) in 1985 and 1986 received two NHPRC grants (one-year outright and a second-year matching) totaling $58,065 to collect preserve and make available the City’s archival records.  The grant funded one position, but more importantly served as seed money for the creation of a permanent archives program.  Today, the Seattle Municipal Archives is a fully funded program with five permanent professional staff, several student workers, volunteers, and interns, and an annual personnel budget of approximately $500,000.  The Archives manages 10,000 linear feet of textual records, nearly 1.5 visual images, and a variety of other formats.  Its web site includes a wide range of indexes, over 130,000 photographs, and educational materials including exhibits and digital materials organized in topics for use in the classroom.  Archives staff, through effective advocacy, was largely responsible for the City creating a records management program in 2001.  In 2009, the Archives received a second NHPRC grant ($106,480) to catalog, index, and make available a huge backlog of unprocessed records, including nearly 2000 linear feet of records.  This grant has allowed the hiring of an additional professional archivist for two years whose sole job is to work on this backlog.

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