As you may be aware, the National Archives location in Seattle is slated to be sold and the records dispersed across the country.
We can all make an appeal to keep the National Archives Seattle archival records in the region. If you are interested, here are some talking points you can use or adapt:
It would be a disservice to the community and the region to completely remove NARA’s archival collections from the Pacific Northwest. Sale of the facility should not drive closure of the regional branch of the National Archives, it should be moved to another facility in the Pacific Northwest region.
The potential removal of the regional archives currently held at the National Archives at Seattle would be detrimental to researchers for the following reasons:
- Educating youth — Each year youth in middle and high schools participate in National History Day. Students in the Pacific Northwest region will now be deprived of accessing the stories and documents held by NARA relating to their region’s history.
- Upholding democracy — According to NARA’s mission statement, “Public access to government records strengthens democracy by allowing Americans to claim their rights of citizenship, hold their government accountable, and understand their history so they can participate more effectively in their government.” Removing records from the communities they describe does a disservice to these communities and ultimately harms democracy.
- Access to research facilities — In 2014, the National Archives at Anchorage, Alaska was announced to be closing. This was a blow to the region and researchers interested in the history of Alaska, which was a federal territory between its purchase from Russia in 1867 until it achieved statehood in 1959. These archival records were moved to Seattle. These will now be even further away from their source if they are removed from the region and relocated to Riverside, California, more than 3,500 miles away. Since Seattle is the repository for records created by Federal agencies in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, citizens from all of these states will be impacted as they will have to travel much further to see most records since only a small percentage of these are digitized.
- Complementary research in area — Researchers of all levels have a complex of regional history available to them in the Seattle area. Researchers planning trips to Seattle can consult with a multitude of archival resources relating to the Pacific Northwest region including those at the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections, the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), the Seattle Municipal Archives, and the National Archives, just to name a few. Removal of the National Archives at Seattle will sever NARA from this network of rich resources for PNW research.
- Access to original records in their context — While it has long been a goal to make more records accessible through digitization, digital representations cannot always replace the importance of the original documents. Some documents are important primarily because of their informational value, whereas others also have artifactual value which cannot be reproduced. Moreover, physically handling records and being able to understand each document in connection with other related documents will be a potential loss as those communities losing their records will be further distanced from their histories. “
Please consider contacting your national representatives, state representatives, city council representatives, the Archivist of the United States (David S. Ferriero: firstname.lastname@example.org), the Public Buildings Reform Board (PBRB: email@example.com), and other interested parties.