Way way back in 1791, at the dawn of the American experiment in democracy, Thomas Jefferson put something prescient to paper: Surely Mr. Jefferson put his money where his mouth was when he donated his collection of 6,487 books to the Library of Congress, forming its core collection, and preserved his own papers for future scholars.
I’d argue, too, that Jefferson was an outreach kind of guy. He wanted “what remains” of lives lived, as in the archival records of public servants in particular, out in the public sphere, where future generations could examine and learn from them. So went the way of archives in America. Generally speaking, American archives are open and accessible to the public, and have become more so over time.
Thanks to archival records, in fact, we know that Jefferson had ties to the Catholic University of America here in Washington, D.C. It was Jefferson who advised Samuel Harrison Smith, a Philadelphia native, to relocate to what is now the campus of Catholic University, in order to establish Washington’s first newspaper, the National Intelligencer. Smith and his wife, Margaret Bayard Smith, followed Mr. Jefferson’s advice and built a home that would remain part of the Catholic University campus until it was demolished in 1970.
The circulation of archival information is the province of the Education Archivist. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: The Fledgling Field of Educational Archivy”