At a recent meeting in historic Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street NW in Washington, DC, a group of individuals interested in DC government and history came together to form the Friends of the District of Columbia Archives (FDCA). The attendees shared a deep concern that the physical and digital records of the Nation’s Capital are at risk due to the poor physical conditions at the DC Archives and District-wide inattention to record-keeping.
The FDCA agreed to three immediate goals:
–Bring public attention and support for the DC Archives though activism in the District government and with the general public.
–Offer direct support the $44 million the District Government committed last year for a new Archives, including more funding if needed to create a world-class facility.
–Spotlight the Archives’ treasures, the dangers posed by current conditions, and the importance of saving the digital records of the city government.
“The District desperately needs a new, modern archives and I am delighted that the FDCA will work to that end,” said Trudy Peterson, FDCA co-chair and a former head of the National Archives. “Our city cannot be great if it does not take care of its past, especially one with as rich and varied history as ours.”
“The FDCA will represent the diverse groups of researchers interested in D.C. history,” said Mary Beth Corrigan, also co-chair and former trustee of the Historical Society. “Their views are essential to the planning of a new state-of-the-art facility that will meet their needs.”
The FDCA includes archivists, historians, D.C. government employees, and anyone interested in recovering and preserving the stories of the District’s past. Participants at the founding meeting had current and former affiliations with the Historical Society of Washington, DC, the Society of American Archivists, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, the National Archives, The George Washington University, and the D.C. Archives.
The FDCA plans to solicit membership from all who want to support the Archives as it continues to advocate for the DC Archives. FDCA members recently testified before the District Council’s Committee on Government Operations on May 1st. Additionally, FDCA has received some promising press coverage from the Kojo Nnamdi Show and The Washington Post. Anyone interested in learned more about the Friends of the DC Archives can follow the group on Twitter: @FDCArchives.