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NCH Accomplishments FY-2004
(Prepared 15 December 2005 )

Overall, 2004 was a good year for the history and archive communities. In spite of expected election year squabbles, Congress managed to complete work on the FY 2004 federal budget only two months late. The massive federal deficit and the costs associated with the war in Iraq continued to have a detrimental impact on domestic spending. Many agencies took across-the-board cuts, though history- and archives-related programs fared relatively well.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) “We the People” (WTP) initiative received a slight funding boost from $135 million (in FY 2004) to $138.06 million. Thanks to the continued support of Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), the Department of Education “Teaching American History” (TAH) initiative was funded yet again at about $120 million. The National Archives and Records Administration ( NARA ) received funding of $267 million, including sufficient funds to continue development of the Electronic Records Archives (ERA). Last year's success in realizing full funding at the authorized level of $10 million for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), however, was not repeated this fiscal year. The NHPRC was appropriated only half that much ($5 million) for the discretionary grant program; nevertheless, this figure is far better than the White House and House recommended appropriation of $3 million.

Through its partnerships with various humanities and preservation organizations, the NCH also continued its long-term support of National Park Service historic preservation programs (including the Historic Preservation Fund, “Save America Treasures” program), the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Legislative and Other Issues of Concern
In addition to generally positive news on the appropriations front, several other National Coalition for History goals outlined in the 2004 Annual Work Plan were attained: the Public Access Declassification Board was reauthorized and somewhat improved in the arena of document declassification; a proposal to have the history coalition monitor the trafficing of stolen documents was approved for funding by the National Archives; federal government plans to out-source National Park Service history positions were curtailed; the pending Historian of the House of Representatives position was announced and, with the assistance of postings in the NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE, a sufficient number of candidates applied for the position -- the Speaker of the House is expected to hire a historian in early 2005.

A new listserve for member organizations was launched early in the year and the information posted on the NCH webpage was more frequently updated. An agreement was reached with the National Humanities Alliance and the Federation of State Humanities Councils to launch the CAP-WIZ legislative action center in January 2005. The coalition's Executive Director was asked to join the planning committee of the National History Center and progress continued throughout the year in developing plans to launch the center.

The history coalition continued to monitor and work on such issues as the state budget crisis, the ongoing legal challenge to Executive Order 13223, and the ongoing controversy over the Nixon presidential library affiliation with NARA . Plans were also solidified with the National History Center to launch a periodic seminar series targeted to Congressional members and staff in Spring 2005.

In addition to the items identified in the annual work plan, other issues that were not anticipated emerged throughout the year that demanded the attention of the history coalition. For example, considerable time was devoted to the nomination of Allen Weinstein to succeed John Carlin as Archivist of the United States . The history coalition coordinated several information exchange meetings between the nominee and representatives of the history and archives community, worked with Senate Governmental Affairs Committee staff on matters relating to the nominees confirmation hearing, and played a significant role in countering the White House's attempt to prematurely dismiss Archivist Carlin. Work on this issue will continue in the 109 th Congress; specifically we will continue to press the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee to hold an oversight hearing on National Archives operations.

Considerable time was also spent working on the successful legislative effort (NARA Efficiency Act of 2004; P.L. 108-383) that reauthorized the NHPRC for another five years; that law also grants NARA certain new authorities including the ability to enter into cooperative agreements (including the NCH). Throughout the year, the history coalition also worked with Congressional staff and interested organizations to pass the American History and Civics Education Act; P.L. 108-383) that authorized Senator Lamar Alexander's presidential and congressional academies for the teaching of history and gave National History Day a statutory authorization. Another legislative victory was the enactment of legislation (P.L. 108-438) that created the Kate Mullany National Historic Site in Troy , New York .

The coalition staff also devoted considerable time to the ongoing effort to pass legislation seeking to set aside special grants for presidential properties (H.R. 3903; S. 1748). Also, the history coalition joined the “Taking Care of Our Heritage Coalition” spearheaded by history coalition Policy Board member Terry Davis and the Association for State and Local History (AASLH) that seeks to create a new state-based formula grants program for museums and archives. Both of these issues are now at the top of the proposed legislative agenda for FY 2005.

Education and Outreach
The history coalition's education and outreach program was extremely active this year. Several conferences and seminars were co-sponsored by the history coalition. During the January 2004 annual meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA) a brown-bag lunch session entitled, “The Bush Administration and Federal History Programs: What's in Store for the Future” attracted an overflow crowd. Also, on 8-11 September the NCH co-sponsored with the German Historical Institute a conference entitled, “Access, Presentation, Memory: The American Presidential Libraries and Memorial Foundations of German Politicians.” The coalition also participated in the National Humanities Alliance “lobby day” activities (15-16 March 2004)

The current supply of the NCH/NHA Congressional Directory (108th Congress) has been exhausted. Approximately 200 copies were distributed to activists, member organizations, and other partner organizations.

Throughout the year the NCH continued to provides its supporters with the weekly NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE. Currently, direct subscriptions to the UPDATE total over 1,250 readers with distribution via H-net to a potential audience of 60,000. On several occasions the UPDATE was first to report stories of interest to the profession. It continues to provide readers with accurate and cutting-edge information on legislation, federal government programs, controversies in the profession as well as other items of interest. UPDATE stories were redistributed online via George Mason History News Network, OMB Watch Federal Information Policy newsletter, APSANET (the American Political Science Association online newsletter), and the National Park Service.

The program that was launched last year in which NCH ACTION ALERTS were issued separate from the NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE continued. These alerts sought to motivate readers of the NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE to contact congressional representatives urging them to support programs that benefit history including the “Teaching American History” initiative, the National Archives and Records Administration (including the NHPRC) and the NEH. Alerts focused not only on federal issues of concern to the history and archival community, but on several issues of statewide concern. These were transmitted to targeted e-mail lists of AHA/OAH/SAA members who resided in the targeted states. The response by member organizations and subscribers to the NCH updates and alerts is at the heart of the NCH advocacy effectiveness.

NCH Columns
NCH columns continue to reach a targeted audience of historians and archivists through the newsletters of professional organizations. These include the American Historical Association Perspectives , the Organization of American Historians OAH Newsletter , the Society of American Archivists Archival Outlook , the National Council on Public History Public History News , and the American Association for State and Local History AASLH Dispatch . Articles and news briefs were also reprinted in dozens of institutional supporter newsletters and online via the History News Network .

Executive Director Presentations and Publications
The Executive Director made two keynote presentations this year: “Building a History Alliance: Lessons From the Past, Opportunities for the Future” to the annual meeting of the New Jersey Advocates for History sponsored by the New Jersey Historical Commission (31 March 2004), and a keynote presentation focusing on the legal challenge to the Presidential Records Act Executive Order to the annual meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (23 April 2004).

The Executive Director also attended and/or made presentations at: the collaborative meeting of Council of State Historical Records Coordinators (COSHRC), National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA) in February 2004; the Princeton meeting on Presidential Libraries (April 9-10 2004). He participated on a panel focusing on the state budget crisis “Confronting the State Budget Crisis” during the AASLH annual meeting in St Louis ( 2 October 2004 ). Presentations on “Career Options for Historians” were made during the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians ( 25 March 2004 ) and at the American University ( 25 March 2004 ). He made a separate presentation on history advocacy to an American University (AU) public history class (16 April 2004) and taught a course at AU “U.S. History and Public Policy” during the Fall semester.

In the realm of written communications, an Op-Ed entitled “Parks for Sale” focusing on the trends in commercialization that threaten the nations' historic resources was published in National Parks magazine (January/February 2004); the article was reprinted also in Ranger , the Journal of the Association of National Park Rangers (Spring 2004). An article “State Budget and the Crisis of Historical Infrastructure” appeared as a cover article in the AHA Perspectives (May 2005).

Legal Suits and Amicus Briefs
This year the NCH continued to maintain an active interest in the legal effort to overturn the Bush administration Executive Order on Presidential Records. The coalition continues to monitor developments and report on the amicus curiae brief in Faulkner v. National Geographic Society, Richard B. Cheney v. US District Court for the District of Columbia and the suit brought by publishers and scholars against the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) pertaining to limits on editing articles by scholars in embargoed countries.

Administrative Advances/Organizational Development
The history coalition also continued to make advances in toward the strategic objective of “paperless communication” by making increasing use of the “board” and “all-member” listerves hosted by the Organization of American Historians.

The intern program was expanded this year with three student interns assisting the executive director in the totality of the NCH operations. Not only was there a full-time summer intern bur part-time interns in the Spring and Fall semesters.

A grant application was made to NARA for the support of a Stolen Documents Monitoring initiative. The funds (approximately $20,000) will be awarded in early 2005.

The National Coalition for History made application to and was accepted into the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) for 2005. The coalition will participate in that campaign as a member of the Conservation, Preservation Federation of America (CPCA).

Recruitment efforts were launched and membership information packets sent to over seventy potential institutional supporters. As a consequence the history coalition welcomes the following new institutional supporters: Forest History Society, Society for the History of Discoveries, and National History Day.