About the National Archives

Archivist's welcome remarks 2nd Annual Records Management Legal Forum

Archivist's Reception Room
National Archives Building
May 23, 2016 at 2 p.m.


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?

Greetings and welcome to the National Archives or as I like to call it My House!

We are excited to have you here this morning for the second annual Records Management Legal Forum.  The main focus of this meeting will be to address implementation of the impending requirement from the 2012 OMB/NARA Managing Government Records Directive that all agencies manage all of your email records electronically by the end of this calendar year.  I cannot think of a more appropriate place to gather than in this hallowed space of American history.

John Russell Pope designed this building as a "temple to American History." He believed only a monumental building in his beloved neoclassical style could appropriately showcase the most treasured documents of our democracy. He made the National Archives Building taller than the neighboring structures, surrounded it with a moat, and set it at an angle to emphasize the importance of this building to the American people. He wanted everyone to know that records matter.

We opened our doors in 1935 with a mission to collect, protect, and preserve the records of the U.S. Government. The press in World War II dubbed this building "Fort Archives." It is certainly built like one. Perhaps John Russell Pope was just as concerned about the security of the records?

The National Archives and Records Administration include our nation's Presidential Libraries, Archives and Federal Records Centers at more than 43 locations throughout the United States. Today that collection translates into over 12 billion sheets of paper, 50 million photographs, miles and miles of video and film, and more than 5 billion electronic records—the fastest growing record form. These records include Oaths of Allegiance signed by George Washington and his troops at Valley Forge, the Louisiana Purchase, the check for 7.2m dollars with which we purchased Alaska, as well as the Tweets that are being created by the White House as I am speaking right now.   

I encourage you to check out the Charters of Freedom and our exhibits, including our newest exhibit, "Amending America," which explores how our Constitution has been amended—or not—over the course of our nation's history. When I first heard of this exhibit, I was astonished to learn that there have been more than 11,000 amendments proposed to the Constitution. Some narrowly missed ratification; others never had a realistic chance.

Over one million visitors each year come to this Rotunda to see the very pen strokes of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights from more than 200 years ago. Here at the National Archives, history comes to life; we house the tangible reminders of where we have been and how far we have come. Each record, large or small, is a representation of a greater story. The National Archives tells everyone's story!

The 2011 Presidential Memo and 2012 OMB/NARA directive on Managing Government Records are vital to NARA and the agencies you represent. I want everyone to meet the 2016 email goal and ensure that records management is an integral part of transition planning.

Thank you for joining us this afternoon.