About the National Archives

Prepared remarks of Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero at a dinner for newly-elected senators. Washington, DC.

Who is the Archivist?

David S. Ferriero
David S. Ferriero The Archivist of the United States is the head of our agency, appointed by the President of the United States.

The AOTUS Blog


What's an Archivist?

December 15, 2010

Good evening.  I am David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States and I want to officially welcome you to the National Archives. 

I hope you all enjoyed the tour.

First of all, congratulations on your victories at the polls a few weeks ago.  This is the third year we have had an evening like this for newly elected senators, and you are, by far, the largest group we’ve had the pleasure of hosting.

I want to recognize several members of the Senate with us tonight who are not newly-elected, but who are great friends of the National Archives.

Senator Tom Carper of Delaware chairs the Senate subcommittee that oversees the Archives and chaired my confirmation hearing not too long ago.

Senator Lamar Alexander is longtime friend of the Archives and his wife, Honey, serves on Board of the Foundation for the National Archives.

And Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas--a frequent visitor to the Archives and a member of our oversight subcommittee.  I also want to recognize and thank Nancy Erikson, the Secretary of the Senate, for serving as co-host of tonight’s activities.

The National Archives is the nation’s record-keeper, a unique role and an important mission. We preserve – in facilities in 21 states and the District of Columbia – all the important records of our nation. They are preserved for the people so they have documentation of their rights as citizens, so they can hold government officials accountable, and so they have a complete record of the American experience.

We preserve records here in this building and in our modern facility in College Park, Maryland, as well as in 14 regional archives, 17 Federal Records Centers, and 13 Presidential libraries.

Before you leave tonight, each of you has a folder to take with you.  In it, you will find facsimile copies of some Senate "firsts:" 

  • The first page of the first Senate journal which you just saw upstairs.
  • The credentials of your state's first Senator. 
  • And the Senate's revisions to the House-passed amendments to the Constitution, one of the first Acts of Congress that we know as the Bill of Rights.

Also, we would like each of you to have a copy of a recent publication of some of the most unique Senate records we hold.  The political cartoons of Kentucky's own Clifford Berryman were featured on the front page of Washington newspapers from the 1890s until his death in 1949.  Fortunately, about 20 years ago more than 2,400 of his original drawings were discovered in the basement of his late daughter and then purchased and donated to the Senate. 

The records in the Archives have many interesting stories to tell, so I invite you to return with your families, your friends and your staff.

Again, congratulations on your election to the Senate and enjoy your evening.

Thank you.

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