What You Need to Know about the National Archives Proposed FY 2018 Budget Cuts

National Archives

In Anticipation of Budget Cuts, NARA Just Announced Saturday Hours to Be Eliminated Soon

On May 22, 2017, President Trump released more details about his proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Overall there were cuts to many of the programs that genealogists regularly use. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is targeted for a $16.6 million reduction in addition to the elimination of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), an archival grant making arm of the National Archives which provides local and state funding in the preservation of essential historical materials making them more accessible to the public. When the NARA budget is cut the hours at the Washington D.C., College Park, Maryland, and Regional Archives are usually reduced. Yesterday NARA announced Saturday hours at Archives I and II would be discontinued beginning 22 July 2017.  Saturday hours were already eliminated at the Regional Archives in December 2015.

What Else Might Genealogists Expect?

As staff cuts are made to meet the budget, our fees are often increased and the delivery time is extended for document requests. Genealogists are the largest customer base of the National Archives. If we don’t support NARA, who will?

Why NHPRC is Important to Genealogists

Since 1964 NHPRC has provided grants to every state and you can view a detailed list for the last thirty years at https://www.archives.gov/nhprc/projects/states-territories. The proposed FY 2018 Budget Cuts eliminate NHPRC entirely.

The Library of Congress May Receive More Funds in the Proposed FY 2018 Proposed Budget

The Library of Congress is slated to receive a $56 million increase in the FY 2018 proposed Trump budget. In addition to the library being a world-class research facility, genealogists also are benefitting from Chronicling America which is digitizing early American newspapers from 1836 to 1922 and digitizing the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of cities across the United States which have survived. If your state newspapers are being digitized, it is likely in partnership with the Library of Congress. The budget negotiations will continue for months, so although the Library of Congress is well positioned in the Trump proposed budget, funding could be reduced before the final budget is approved. Let’s not take that chance.

Write Your Congressional Representative and Ask Them to Support NARA

As genealogists, we need to support the funding of projects which provide digitization and online access to historical documents. We have the most impact if we write our Congressional Representatives. On the RPAC website http://www.fgs.org/rpac we have provided a copy of this article with links to sample letters you can send in support of NARA, NHPRC, and/or the Library of Congress. With each sample letter we have provided a chart showing the actual FY 2016 and FY 2017 funding in comparison to the proposed FY 2018 budget.

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Jan Alpert

Chair of the Records Preservation and Access Committee, former president and board member of the National Genealogical Society, and chair of the NGS conference committee.

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