About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Awards Ceremony (2017)

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building
April 7, 2017


Good afternoon.  Welcome to the National Archives. My name is David Ferriero, and I am Archivist of the United States.

It is an honor for us to serve as your host for this afternoon’s awards ceremony, and I am glad to recognize…

Alan Hanson, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs

Marilyn Roberts, Acting Director, Office for Victims of Crime

And the guest speaker today Kevin Mulcahy, Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

I would also like to acknowledge the awardees, family members of victims of crime, and allied professionals from across the United States…

This week President Donald Trump said in his National Crime Victims Rights Week Presidential Proclamation that, “Crime and violence rob people of their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  We must focus on the plight of crime victims and search for effective solutions. ” The National Archives is the home of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights––known collectively as the Charters of Freedom. These sacred documents were created to protect the rights of all Americans. And I can’t think of a better setting for today’s ceremony—than in the place where those rights are preserved and celebrated upstairs in our Rotunda.

When we opened our doors in 1935, our mission was to collect, protect, and encourage the use of the records of the U.S. Government. And, most importantly, to make the records available so that the American public can hold its government accountable and learn from our past. We are the final destination of the most important records of the United States.

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.

Our records start with the Oaths of Allegiance signed by George Washington and his troops at Valley Forge and go all the way up to the Tweets that are being created at the White House as I am speaking. It is a collection of 13 billion pieces of paper and parchment, 40 million photographs, miles and miles of film and video, and more than 5 billion electronic records—the fastest growing record form. These are not static numbers:  every day we take in––or accession––more records, and we estimate the textual records grow by half a billion records each year. Our holdings include the Victims of Crime Act, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1984.  This act was created to help victims of crime. It established the Crime Victims Fund.

At the National Archives, history comes to life. Each record, large or small, is a representation of a greater story, many of which are still being told today in daily life.

Thank you for coming today and for choosing our historic building for your event.