Major events in the history of the National Archives.
Created by archives_historian on Jun 26, 2013
Last updated: 09/05/13 at 01:18 PM
After a $35 million renovation, which began in May 2010, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum was rededicated. With the exception of two wings added in 1972, it was the first time the FDR Library had been renovated since it was first dedicated on June 30, 1941. The renovation brought the Library’s archives and museum up to the National Archives’s standards for the preservation of historic collections, while carefully preserving the building’s historic appearance.
Photograph: FDR's desk, FDR Presidential Library
On April 25, 2013, the George W. Bush Presidential Library was dedicated on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.
Attendees included: President Barack and Michelle Obama, former Presidents George W. and Laura Bush; William J. and Hillary Clinton; George and Barbara Bush; and Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.
The George W. Bush Library was the thirteenth Presidential Library in the National Archives.
Photo: Dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, Paul Morse
David S. Ferriero was confirmed as the tenth Archivist of the United States on November 6, 2009.
Since 1974, Nixon’s presidential materials have been maintained by the National Archives under the authority of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA). Congress passed PRMPA in response to news that President Nixon, after resigning office, was attempting to destroy documents from his presidency. PRMPA mandated that Nixon's documents and other materials remain in the Federal Government’s possession, and stay within 50 miles of Washington, DC. After more than two decades of litigation and negotiation over the Nixon materials, the Nixon Library became part of the National Archives on July 11, 2007.
Photo: Nixon Presidential Library & Museum, Yorba Linda, CA, Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation
Beginning the late evening of June 25, 2006, record-breaking rainfall in the DC area flooded several buildings in the Federal Triangle, including the National Archives. The water flooded the National Archives Building’s transformer vaults and sub-basement, causing power loss and significant damage. No original records were damaged by the flood, but the building was closed for nearly three weeks while crews made repairs. The William G. McGowan Theater remained closed until October 2006.
Photo: McGowan Theater by Jeff Reed
On January 24, 2005, President George W. Bush nominated and on February 10, 2005, the U.S. Senate confirmed historian Allen Weinstein as the ninth Archivist of the United States. Dr. Weinstein was sworn-in by Senator Richard Lugar at the U.S. Capitol on February 16, 2005.
On November 18, 2004, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library was dedicated in Little Rock, AR. It was the eleventh library in the Presidential Library system.
Photo: Clinton Presidential Library, A.C. Haralson, Clinton Presidential Library
On November 6, 1997, the George Bush Library and Museum was dedicated in College Station, TX, on the campus of Texas A&M. President Bill Clinton gave remarks. President George and Barbara Bush were in attendance along with, President Gerald and Betty Ford, President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Lady Bird Johnson and Hillary Clinton. It opened to the public following day.
Photo: Dedication of the George Bush Presidential Library, November 6, 1997, Bush Presidential Library #199721_03-08A
On May 5, 1995, President William Clinton nominated and on May 25, 1995, the U.S. Senate confirmed John W. Carlin as Archivist of the United States. On June 1, 1995, Governor Carlin was sworn in as eighth Archivist of the United States.
The National Archives at College Park, MD, (known as Archives II) was dedicated on May 12, 1994. It is located on a 33-acre parcel of land donated by the University of Maryland.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was dedicated on November 4, 1991, in Semi Valley, CA. In attendance were all living Presidents: current-President George H. W. Bush, and former Presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon.
Photo: ARC Identifier 6477034 / Local Identifier 330-CFD-DN-SN-92-01711.jpeg
On September 9, 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated and on November 20, 1987, the U.S. Senate confirmed Don W. Wilson to be the seventh Archivist of the United States. On December 4, 1987, Dick Cheney, Member of Congress from Wyoming, administered the oath of office to Don Wilson in the Rotunda of the National Archives. President Ronald Reagan also gave remarks.
On October 1, 1986, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, GA, was dedicated.
Photo: Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
Congress passed the National Archives Act which established the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as an independent agency effective April 1, 1985.
Photo: A ceremony was held on November 4, 1984, whereby the Archivist of the United States, Robert Warner, was presented a reproduction of the act creating the National Archives and Records Administration, 64-PF-11-8-84-A
On April 27, 1981, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library was dedicated. The Library is located in Ann Arbor, MI, on the North Campus of the University of Michigan, Gerald Ford's alma mater (B.A., 1935)
Photo: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
In a ceremony held in Washington, DC, Robert M. Warner became the sixth Archivist of the United States.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library was dedicated on October 20, 1979, in Columbia Point, Boston, MA; President Jimmy Carter spoke at the ceremony.
Photo: Dedication Ceremony, President Carter and members of President Kennedy's family at the dedication of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, October 20, 1979, Kennedy Presidential Library
On July 12, 1973, a fire broke out on the sixth floor of the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO. The fire raged for four days and destroyed approximately 22 million Official Military Personnel Files. The records lost were those of former members of the Army, the Army Air Force, and the Air Force who served between 1912 and 1963.
On May 22, 1971, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, on The University of Texas campus in Austin, TX, was dedicated.
Photo: President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson posing in front of the new LBJ Library, LBJ Library photo by Frank Wolfe #D4110
In the spring of 1969 the National Archives began Prologue: The Journal of the National Archives. The National Archives continues to produce this as a quarterly publication.
James "Bert" Rhoads first served as Acting Archivist from March 10, 1968, until the General Services Administrator appointed him to be the fifth Archivist of the United States on May 2, 1968.
Photo:James B. Rhoads, Fifth Archivist of the United States, ca. 1968, 64-NA-3561, National Archives
Robert Bahmer first served as Acting Archivist from November 7, 1965, until the General Services Administrator appointed him to be the fourth Archivist of the United States on January 16, 1966.
Photo: Robert Bahmer, Fourth Archivist of the United States, ca. 1965, 64-AA-4, National Archives
On August 10, 1962, The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library opened to the public. Former President Hoover and Former President Harry Truman attended the dedication ceremony.
Photograph: President Harry S. Truman and Herbert Hoover at the Hoover Library dedication in 1962, Hoover Presidential Library
On May 1, 1962, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library was dedicated in Abilene, KS.
Photo: Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, Eisenhower Presidential Library # 65-766-1
On July 6, 1957, the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, MO, was dedicated. It was the second presidential library to become part of the National Archives.
Photo: Harry S. Truman and Herbert Hoover at the Truman Library's dedication, July 6, 1957, in Independence, Missouri, Truman Presidential Library
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Presidential Library Act into law on August 12, 1955. The act provided for the transfer of presidential papers and other materials to the Federal Government. The legislation also established a system of privately built and federally maintained libraries.
Document citation: The Presidential Library Act, August 12, 1955, General Records of the United States Government, 1778 - 1992; RG 11; National Archives
After years of negotiation between the Archivist of the United States and the Librarian of Congress, the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence were transferred to the National Archives.
Photo: Transfer of Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to the National Archives, December 13, 1952, 64-NA-1-434, National Archives
Congress passed the Federal Records Act of 1950 further expanding the records management role of the National Archives. The National Archives began to establish a series of records centers to store semi-active Federal records. In 1950, the first Federal Records Center was opened in Brooklyn, NY, and by 1955 there were nine more around the country as Federal agencies agreed to deposit their records there. Today, the National Archives maintains 17 Federal Record Centers.
Photo: Record Center in Alexandria, VA, 1959, 64-NA-1715, National Archives
On June 30, 1949, Congress passed, and President Harry S. Truman signed, the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act which transferred the National Archives to the newly created General Services Administration (GSA). Because the Archives had gained new responsibilities for current records, its name was changed to National Archives and Records Service (NARS).
Photo: Harry S. Truman, 111-P-20038A, National Archives
After being nominated by President Truman and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Wayne Grover became the third Archivist of the United States.
Photo: Third Archivist of the United States Dr. Wayne C. Grover, 64-NA-1-5, National Archives
After being nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Solon Justus Buck became the second Archivist of the United States.
Photo: Dr. Solon Justus Buck, Second Archivist of the United States, ca. 1941, 64-NA-1761, National Archives
On June 30, 1941, FDR dedicated his library, the first Presidential Library. He built the new facility with private funds on a 16 acre section of his mother's home in Hyde Park, NY. On July 1, 1941, the exhibition rooms and museum portions of the library opened to the public.
Photograph: Franklin D. Roosevelt speaks at the dedication of his library in Hyde Park, NY, on June 30, 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
Murals by American artist Barry Faulkner depicting the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were installed on walls of rotunda of the National Archives Building.
The Survey of Federal Archives (SFA), a Works Projects Administration project to survey and index historically significant records outside of Washington, DC, was organized with the National Archives as cooperating sponsor; National Archives staff took on this responsibility for records in the DC area. Workers found that many historically significant documents were housed in poor conditions, such as these War Department records which were stored in the White House garage.
Photo: War Department Records at White House Garage, 64-NA-48-3, National Archives
In late 1935 the National Archives began to accept records for transfer. By June 1936 the Archives had received approximately 58,800 cubic feet of records, mainly Veterans Administration records and defunct World War I U.S. Food Administration records.
Photo: Workers at the National Archives push a cart of Veterans Administration records into a vacuum chamber for fumigation in the Archives building, 64–NA–77, National Archives
By 1935, the outside of the National Archives Building was nearing completion. Although the inside was still unfinished, approximately 120 staff moved into the building in November.
Photo: Constitution Avenue Entrance of the National Archives, 1935, 64-NA-1, National Archives
On October 10, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated Connor to be the first Archivist of the United States and the Senate confirmed his appointment on March 20, 1935. Connor served as the Archivist of the United States until 1941 and during his tenure he laid the foundation for the new agency.
Image: Dr. Robert D. W. Connor, First Archivist of the United States, 64-NA-1-37, National Archives
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the National Archives Act on June 19, 1934. The legislation established the National Archives to oversee Federal record keeping and stipulated the Archivist of the United States, who would be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, would head the agency. The act also established the National Historical Publications Commission.
Document Citation: Act of June 19, 1934 ("National Archives Act"); General Records of the United States Government, 1778 - 1992; RG 11, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration; National Archives
Departing President Herbert Hoover laid the cornerstone of the building in a ceremony. Hoover dedicated it in the name of the people of the United States and proclaimed, “This temple of our history will appropriately be one of the most beautiful buildings in America, an expression of the American soul. It will be one of the most durable, an expression of the American character.”
Photo: The cornerstone laying ceremony at the National Archives, February 20, 1933, 121-BA-3977-1, National Archives
By September of 1932, the foundation of the massive Archives building was under construction.
Photo: Construction of the foundation for the National Archives Building, September 1, 1932, 64-NAC-60, National Archives
The Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Ferry K. Heath turned a spade of earth on the site for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the National Archives Building. Photo: A view of the Federal Triangle project buildings from the Washington Monument; corner of the Commerce Building (far left foreground) to the National Archives foundation (right background); Public Buildings Commission Annual Report, 1932, 9664 S.doc. 210, Y3.P96/4:1/932
The building that housed the Center Market, which had been erected in 1871 and held approximately 700 vendors, was demolished to make way for the new National Archives Building. Many of the vendors moved to Union Market on Florida Ave., NE.
Photo: Photograph of Center Market at 7th Street and Pennsylvania, 1928, 64-NA-273-F, National Archives
After being moved twice, the final location was selected for the National Archives Building: the block bounded by 7th and 9th Streets and B Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. At the time the Center Market, constructed in the late 19th Century, occupied the site.
Photo: Condiment Stand in Center Market, 83-G-3653, National Archives
On May 25, 1926, Congress passed the Public Buildings Act authorizing a massive public buildings construction project, part of which was to provide office space for the growing Federal agencies in the nation’s capital. This program led to the design and construction of buildings within the Federal Triangle area of downtown Washington DC, a then run-down area along Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Part of this act appropriated funds for the National Archives Building (May 25, 1926; 44 Stat.).
Photograph: Aerial View looking west down Constitution Avenue, Washington DC, 121-BA-2716-B, National Archives
The publication of the "Guide to the Archives of the Government of the United States in Washington" by the Public Archives Commission in 1904 was an important development in the move to create a federal records archives; it was expanded in 1907 in a second edition. Co-author, Waldo G. Leland, became a key figure in the creation and development of the National Archives.
Photo: Waldo G. Leland, 1879-1966, National Archives
In 1884, the American Historical Association (AHA) was founded for the promotion of historical studies, the collection and preservation of historical manuscripts, and for furthering interest in American history; AHA founder J. Franklin Jameson became integral in the movement to create a national archives. Photo: J. Franklin Jameson, 64-NA-77, National Archives
On September 15, 1789, Congress passed "an Act to provide for the safe keeping of the Acts, Records, and Seal of the United States." This act gave the Secretary of State responsibility for the safekeeping of and access to the Federal government’s official records. Image Citation: A bill entitled “An act to provide for the safe keeping of the Acts, Records, and Seal of the United States,” signed into law September 15, 1789, RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, SEN 1-C1, National Archives, Washington DC