Public History > Government

Historians and Government Shutdowns

By Donald A. Ritchie

Federal government shutdowns are never in the best interest of historians. The unpredictable events are detrimental to research, closing down the Library of Congress, National Archives, presidential libraries, and myriad specialized resources within different agencies. Historians working for the government find shutdowns not only lock them out of their offices and disrupt their work, but add the stigma of being labeled “nonessential.” 

The “Practical Value of History”: Historians in the Federal Government

What is the “practical value of history”? This was the framing question of J. Samuel Walker’s Roger R. Trask Lecture delivered at the annual meeting of the Society for History in the Federal Government (SHFG) on April 13. Walker, who’s the former historian of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the author of several acclaimed books on the history of nuclear power, argued that historians must answer this question if they are to survive the never-ending austerity that the profession faces.

President Obama To Appoint David S. Ferriero Archivist of the U.S.

The National Coalition for History has learned from several sources that President Obama intends later today to nominate David S. Ferriero to the position of Archivist of the United States. Since 2004, Mr. Ferriero has served as the Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of The Research Libraries at The New York Public Library (NYPL). Mr. Ferriero succeeds Professor Allen Weinstein who resigned last December. Article By: Lee White, Executive Director of the National Coalition for History

Concerns about State Department Historians Office Aired

An inquiry into the Office of the Historian at the U.S. State Department (HO) concludes that “the current working atmosphere in the HO and between the HO and the HAC [Historical Advisory Committee] poses real threats to the high scholarly quality of the FRUS [Foreign Relations of the United States] series and the benefits it brings.” Secrecy News posted the report, by a committee consisting of Warren F. Kimball (chair), Ruth Whiteside, and Ron Spector, up yesterday. Article By: Robert B. Townsend