Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Can you say bye-bye NHPRC...?

Rep. Chaffetz (R-Utah) wants to shut down the NHPRC.  Who is
really behind this kind of anti-intellectual activity?  This seems to fit nicely with ancestry.com's plan to corner the digitization market.  If there are no large public-sector grants available, then for-profit research outfits like ancestry will be the winners in the future of digitization.  That does not leave a level playing field for anyone but the largest of game-players.

It seems a moot point to hammer the archives on enforcing the digital partnership agreements when they are constantly having their budget gutted at every turn.  Actions like Chaffetz's would leave the archives in a very bad position, with ancestry as their only, rather dubious, partner.  We need to make sure that NARA and NHPRC stay funded - then we can afford to be picky about particulars with specific partnership issues.


  1. This sounds like it could lead to a downward spiral towards the end of the history profession. With large for profit companies controlling digitization, the history that the common person sees will become very controlled. Since the historical profession is about striving for objectivity (and knowing that objectivity will never actually happen) this is a real concern. One of the ways which the historical profession thrives is by using new/different sources. If these sources are no longer availible to researchers who cannot afford to travel, then new discoveries cannot be made. It will only limit history. I fear that it will limit history to the point where the standard becomes the uniform textbook because sources are not available. I think that the people backing this bill do not realize what history actually is and why it needs to continue. They think it is the textbook when it is really a series of ongoing discoveries.

  2. Michael CunninghamJuly 19, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    Because Chaffetz is from Utah, it is reasonable to infer that this move is being instigated by the CJCLDS/Mormons, and their partners in Ancestry.com, in an effort to advance their control over documents and research in the nation's archives. In light of the Mormon's religious and political agenda in the US, their efforts to dominate access to the raw materials necessary to tell America's story should be resisted. Tell your congressional delegation to provide strong support for NHPRC and its funding of independent research.