Looking for a way to advocate for archives and archivists?
One of the most important things you can do is help the archival profession cultivate relationships with key allies in Congress, and the Congressional History Caucus offers a simple way to do just that.
SAA Executive Director Nancy Beaumont serves on the Policy Board of the National Coalition for History (NCH), a consortium of over 50 organizations that advocates on federal, state and local legislative and regulatory issues. NCH has partnered with the offices of Representatives John Larson (D-CT), Tom Cole (R-OK), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) to create the Congressional History Caucus, a group of Representatives who share “an interest in our nation’s unique history and heritage” and encourage “Members of Congress to celebrate our past, and to reflect on how knowledge of our nation’s history is critical to understanding our Democracy.” Twenty-three representatives have joined the Caucus so far. We need your help to grow this list.
Here’s how to contact your Representative and ask her/him to join the History Caucus–it’s easy!
(And thanks to NCH for these handy instructions!)
Write or call your House member’s office and urge them to contact Congressman John Larson’s office at (202) 225-2265 to join the caucus.
To contact your representative, you can use one of these two options. No matter which means of communication you choose, personalize your message as to your background or interest in archives and history. If you are employed in the field, mention the institution where you work in your congressional district.
- Write a message. You can find your representative by going to the House website at http://www.house.gov/. The system allows you to search for them using your zip code which will take you directly to a link to their website and contact information. Congressional offices allow you to send them an email through their homepage if you are from their district. Be sure to add a link to the 2015 Congressional History Caucus Dear Colleague letter in your email.
- Make a phone call. All Members of Congress can be reached through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. If you feel comfortable doing so, a personal phone call is preferable to an email. If you speak to a staff member, be sure to get their name and email address so you can forward them a copy of the 2015 Congressional History Caucus Dear Colleague letter.
As NCH says, “Since we are not asking for federal funding or a policy change, you will likely get a positive response if you take the time to make the request.”
Members of the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable Steering Committee recently contacted their Representatives to urge them to join the Caucus:
Laurel Bowen emailed Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA). She said that, working in archives and history, she sees diversity as a community strength. “Our nation has always been characterized by differing points of view, experiences, and heritages. Understanding our past will help us deal more successfully with our present, and insure that we can look forward to our future without fear. Your point of view will be an asset to the group.”
Christine Anne George emailed Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY). She wrote “By forming key relationships, encouraging educational programming, and advocating to preserve the past, the Congressional History Caucus will be able to serve a vital role. As one of your constituents, I hope that you will take a stand for history and become a member.”
Wendy Hagenmaier called the DC office of Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) and followed up with an email. She wrote, “I believe Congressman Lewis’s distinguished and inspiring role in the modern history of Atlanta, the Civil Rights Movement, and Congress would position him to be an important leader in the History Caucus. Congressman Lewis’s story illuminates and embodies the importance of understanding the past in order to design and legislate a brighter future.”
When you contact your rep, let I&A know by leaving a comment, tweeting at us, or sending us a message! And we always welcome blog posts about your experiences reaching out to your legislators and taking steps to advocate for archives.