Press Release
Press Release · Monday, May 19, 1997

Press Release
May 19, 1997
U.S. Archivist Applauds Proposal to End Dispute Over Founding Fathers Papers

Gerald George
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20408
(Telephone: 202) 501-5600

Washington, DC . . . Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin today endorsed enthusiastically a proposal to give top priority in future grant making by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to completing publication of the papers of the Founding Fathers, solving electronic records problems, and collaborating with state historical records advisory boards to increase the range of records available for scholars, students, and the public.

"Through these priorities," Mr. Carlin said, "the NHPRC can get states' help to protect a wide range of records, can save the history in electronic records that we are now in danger of losing, and can provide the public with access to those particular records that best help us understand the creation of our country and its democratic institutions."

As head of the National Archives and Records Administration, Mr. Carlin chairs the NHPRC, which is the National Archives and Records Administration's grant-making affiliate. Last November the Commission adopted a strategic plan that reduced priority for funding publication of the papers of such Founding Fathers as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The plan approved today by the NHPRC's Executive Committee would restore that priority if adopted by the full Commission at its next meeting on June 19.

"Historians protested," Mr. Carlin said, "and we listened. I congratulate the NHPRC Executive Committee for coming up with a resolution of the problem that I think all members of the Commission will be able to approve."

Beginning in fiscal year 1999, as proposed by the NHPRC's Executive Committee, the Commission will concentrate its efforts and its resources on three strategic goals within its broader mission, stated by the Executive Committee as follows:

  • The NHPRC will assure the American public of widespread access to the papers of the founders of our democratic republic and its institutions by completing eight projects now in progress to publish the papers of George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and papers that document the Ratification of the Constitution, the First Federal Congress, and the early Supreme Court.
  • The NHPRC will promote broad public participation in historical documentation by collaborating with State Historical Records Advisory Boards to plan and carry out jointly funded programs to strengthen the nation's archival infrastructure and expand the range of records that are protected and publicly accessible.
  • The NHPRC will enable the nation's archivists, records managers, and documentary editors to overcome the obstacles and take advantage of the opportunities posed by electronic technologies by continuing to provide leadership in funding research-and-development on appraising, preserving, and providing access to records in digital form.

Also as proposed by the Executive Committee, the Commission will commit up to 60% of its appropriated funds each year to grants for soundly conceived projects of value in reaching these goals. The Commission will reserve at least 40% of its appropriated funds each year for grants for other soundly conceived projects eligible for support within the Commission's statutory mission, including projects to protect, publish, and otherwise make accessible historically significant records, and to improve the methods, tools, and training of professionals engaged in such documentary work.

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail at Visit the National Archives Home Page on the World Wide Web at


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