Preserving the Past to Protect the Future

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The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) just started a year-long commemoration of its 75th anniversary . Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 19, 1934, legislation established a National Archives to preserve the permanently valuable papers of the Federal government.At the dedication of his Presidential library, Franklin Roosevelt said, “To bring together the records of the past and to house them in buildings where they will be preserved for the use of men and women in the future, a Nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future.”

NARA remains committed to President Roosevelt’s credo. It continues to preserve the records of the past, so that upcoming generations can make informed decisions about the future of our nation.

As a special feature this month to celebrate the Presidential inauguration, NARA presented a series of public programs on Presidential transitions with displays of original documents such as the first printed draft of the Constitution, with notes in George Washington’s handwriting; a letter from President George Washington to his Cabinet asking for their recommendations for procedures for his inauguration in 1793; and clips from Presidential inaugurations such as coverage of John F. Kennedy’s 1961 Inaugural, and President Reagan’s 1981 Inaugural Ceremony.

NARA’s Services for Family Historians and Genealogists

With all of the inaugural celebrations going on this week in Washington, D.C., there still is the continual undercurrent of family historians and genealogists who flood the capital every day to visit NARA to search for their ancestors. NARA’s extensive record holdings most commonly used by genealogists include census, land, military, and immigration. NARA also has a comprehensive genealogy section on the web

WorldVital features many of the NARA digital databases in its global search such as the

For individuals across the country who don’t live in or travel to Washington, D.C., NARA also offers a program of genealogical workshops and courses in its facilities nationwide (14 regional archives and 12 Presidential libraries) to introduce and expand the know-how of family historians. Topics include an introduction to genealogy and research into records such as census schedules, military service and pension records, and passenger lists. The calendar of events chronicles workshops through the end of the year at locations such as Atlanta, San Francisco, Kansas City, and Seattle.

“Every day we work to preserve and provide access to the records of our Government,” commented Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, “from the Declaration of Independence, to the census records enumerating the individuals that make up our nation, to the service records of the men and women who serve in our military, to documentation on homeland security issues that will make our country safer. The records we hold are the original sources of American history, telling the story of our nation through the actions of individuals and institutions.”

About NARA
The National Archives and Records Administration is the nation’s record keeper. An independent agency created by statute in 1934, NARA safeguards the records of all three branches of the Federal Government. Its job is to ensure continuing access to essential documentation and, in doing so, serve a broad spectrum of American society. Genealogists and family historians; veterans and their authorized representatives; academics, scholars, historians, business and occupational researchers; publication and broadcast journalists; Congress, the Courts, the White House, and other public officials; Federal Government agencies and the individuals they serve; state and local government personnel; professional organizations and their members; students and teachers; and the general public-all seek answers from the records it preserves.

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