Sat, March 22, 2014

Help Save NARA

Save the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in Anchorage, Alaska

There are several ways that you can help advocate for the Anchorage NARA facility:

– Write or e-mail David Ferriero, Archivist of the US (see sample letter below)
The National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

Please CC our Congressional delegation and the Office of History and Archaeology, who are working to keep Alaska’s elected leaders informed:;;;

– Sign and widely share the following on-line petition, insisting that the facility stays open:

– Flood the Anchorage NARA facility with visitors. This is such an important archive, we need to show that it matters to Alaskans and that we utilize the resources within.

– Contribute your own NARA story for the AHS blog. We want to highlight treasures, research projects, and connections inspired by NARA’s collections so that our leaders will see that Alaska’s records must stay accessible to Alaskans, in our own state. E-mail your contribution to Katie Ringsmuth (

– Write letters to the editor. Records from each and every community in Alaska are housed at the NARA facility. This could be a major loss to local history, even more than federal history.


March 12, 2014

Mr. David Ferriero
The National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

Dear Mr. Ferriero:

I strongly urge you to reconsider closing the National Archives and Records Administration facility in Anchorage. It is my opinion that the cost savings used to justify the closure do not correlate to the loss that Alaskans will experience if our federal records are shipped to Seattle. Alaska is a relatively young state. This means that the bulk of the records pertaining to the history of Alaska are federal. Shipping these records to Seattle is a serious loss to the cultural heritage and patrimony of Alaska. Already, so many of the documents and objects that are critical to the history of Alaska are housed outside of the state. NARA’s Anchorage facility was created to reverse this trend and to ensure that Alaskans had easy access to the documents that impact our lives.

These records are important to individuals far removed from the history profession. You must understand that NARA’s ”stakeholder” community in Alaska includes most Alaskans. Closing the NARA facility is detrimental to Alaskans from all walks of life. Native peoples, fishermen, scientists, engineers, lawyers, real estate agents and others consult these records because federal agencies have enormous sway over the daily lives of Alaskans. Federal entities own most of Alaska’s land and serve as some of the largest employers in the state. Researching at Anchorage’s NARA facility is more than an academic pursuit: NMFS fishing regulations impact fish stocks as much as fishing families; changes in BLM management paradigms impact subsistence use; BIA health policies and civil rights stances directly shape the futures of Alaska’s Native villages. Federal policies are felt in Alaska homes in a way that is unmatched in other states. The records that chart these decisions must be kept in Alaska for reasons of transparency and for the empowerment of communities. Alaskans must be able to easily access the records housed at NARA’s Anchorage facility to understand not only the development of our state, but to keep federal agencies accountable to it.

You claim that the Anchorage records will be digitized. The time, expense, and working hours required to digitize such an extensive collection is beyond the current capacity of the Seattle NARA facility. Moreover, many of the older documents are in such fragile condition that digitization would be detrimental to their preservation. Without providing evidence of a budget and a timeline for the digitization and publication of these records, it sounds like a shallow promise.


I urge you to consider NARA’s mission to ”ensure continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. We support democracy, promote civic education, and facilitate historical understanding of our national experience.” Allow us Alaskans to access and interpret our own history, in our own state. Allow us to use the important documents held within Anchorage’s NARA facility to advocate for our rights and improve the transparency of federal actions in Alaska. Please reverse your decision to close Anchorage’s NARA facility, as it is detrimental to democracy, transparency, and civic discourse.