Sunshine Week: 15 National Archives Stories About Making Access Happen
By Angela Tudico | National Archives News
WASHINGTON, March 16, 2023 — The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) marked Sunshine Week 2023 with a program about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) at NARA and videos that share how the agency advances this year’s theme, “Make Access Happen.”
The theme is particularly meaningful for the National Archives, as it has been part of the agency's strategic plan since 2014.
All year long, NARA’s Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), the federal FOIA Ombudsman, works toward this strategic goal to make access happen by assisting the public with FOIA requests and identifying ways to improve FOIA compliance.
The National Archives, as a whole, makes access happen every day in a number of ways, from digitizing records to putting next generation finding aids online to connecting with researchers.
Sunshine Week, March 12-18, is celebrated annually and promotes the importance of open access to public information. As Sunshine Week comes to a close, the National Archives is looking back at stories that explore the ways in which the agency connects the public with records. Find out more in the pieces below.
- This Just In! Three New Series Relating to Puerto Rico Fully Digitized and Available Online! (2022): The Cartographic Branch announced that three series of records relating to Puerto Rico are newly digitized and available through the National Archives Catalog.
- National Archives at Riverside Collaborates with California Universities to Digitize Chinese Heritage Records (2022): More than 2,200 Chinese Exclusion Act case files held by the National Archives at Riverside are available online in the National Archives Catalog, thanks to a collaboration with the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California.
- National Archives Tops 200 Million Digitized Pages in Online Catalog (2022): The National Archives Catalog contains more than 200 million digitized pages. Our next goal: 500 million digitized pages in the Catalog by September 2026.
- A Decade of Work Culminates in 1950 Census Release on April 1 (2022): From paper to magnetic tape to digital images, the 1950 Census records debuted publicly following 10 years of work by National Archives staff.
- Citizen Archivist Contributions Push Catalog Enhancements Past 2 Million (2021): The National Archives Catalog surpassed 2 million pages of records enhanced with tags, transcriptions, and comments, thanks to the record-breaking efforts of citizen archivists as well as agency employees working from home.
- Instagram Post Leads to Recovery of 1810 Census Rolls (2021): Local 1810 census records from Essex County, Massachusetts, long missing from the collection of census records, are finally in Washington, DC, after a 211-year delay, thanks to a social media post.
- New Finding Aid Improves Search for Native American Photos (2020): It is now easier than ever to search through more than 18,000 digitized photos from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, thanks to a finding aid from the National Archives.
- National Archives Launches Presidential Library Explorer (2020): The Presidential Library Explorer provides a more efficient way for visitors to search through records in the libraries’ holdings.
- Slaves in the Family and Escape on the Pearl: A Report on Two Books That Used NARA Records (2020): Among the most tangible products validating the work of National Archives’ reference staff are the books written by the many researchers assisted over the years.
- Confederate Slave Payrolls Shed Light on Lives of 19th-Century African American Families (2020): National Archives staff digitized nearly 6,000 Confederate Slave Payroll records for the first time and added them to the National Archives Catalog.
- National Declassification Center Celebrates 10 Years of Making Access Happen (2020): The organization responsible for advancing the declassification and public release of historically valuable permanent federal records, while also maintaining national security, celebrated its 10-year anniversary.
- Merchant Marine Records Document Maritime Service (2019): The public has access to previously unavailable information concerning former merchant mariners and their maritime service through Merchant Marine Licensing Files, made available by the National Archives at St. Louis.
- NARA Makes Access Happen in the Digital Decade (2019): In 2009, the agency’s digital presence was limited to a smattering of websites and about 300,000 digital copies of records in the National Archives Catalog, Today, the agency’s 97 million records are available on more than 25 platforms.
- Records Help Author Tell Code Girls’ Story (2017): More than 10,000 women played a pivotal role in helping the United States and its Allies win World War II through the highly complex work of deciphering encrypted messages.
- National Archives’ Digital Records Help Irish Author Write History Books (2017): The National Archives’ digitized records collection allowed an Irish author across the Atlantic Ocean to write two books, including one using NARA holdings as primary resources.