August 20, 2019
In the legal and business worlds, we’re taught that there are three main reasons for retaining records: to comply with legal and/or regulatory requirements, to satisfy the business needs of the organization, or to preserve records with archival value. Most of us handle relatively few of the third category. This interview with David S. Ferriero, the 10th archivist of the United States, is a fascinating window on the work of the government agency that deals with our nation’s most important historical documents. The holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration include everything from The Declaration of Independence to materials from the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair to the latest presidential tweets. While the archive contains documents and artifacts that will be retained permanently, there are also records of various agencies that have life cycles similar to those with which records managers are familiar. Another familiar subject is digitization, a process in full swing at NARA. It’s an altogether interesting look at a unique institution and a reminder of the importance of careful guardianship of our records.