NCPH Statement of Support for Federal Public History Workers

Since the inauguration of the Trump administration on January 20th, 2017, concern has grown about tightened controls and censorship of federal workers, including those working in the fields of history, heritage, and cultural conservation. Within days, we witnessed censure of the National Parks Service social media and web content, as well as an increasingly aggressive tone from this administration that jeopardized the independence and questioned the professionalism of federal workers.

As the leading organization representing public historians and on behalf of its membership, which includes those in the federal government, the National Council on Public History condemns any actions that constrain the independence of public historians in the federal government, as well as attacks against their research, and criticism of their professionalism.

History, heritage, and cultural conservation workers of the federal government serve the American public, no matter the administration, and are guided by the professional standards of their respective fields as well as the principles of ethical conduct as defined by Executive Order 12674 issued by President George H.W. Bush in 1989. These standards and principles ensure not only that they will perform their duties to the best of their abilities but also that they will strive to record, protect, and preserve our history and heritage for future generations.

Historians, archivists, curators, and other stewards of the nation’s cultural resources are responsible for ensuring evidence-based, balanced, and respectful historical perspectives necessary to understand contemporary events. This can only be achieved if their ability to communicate with the full range of their constituencies — including law and policy makers, the scholarly community, the media, and the public — remains unimpeded.

We urge the current administration to look upon history, heritage, and cultural conservation workers, as well as all federal workers, not as adversaries, but as partners in the sound governance of the United States.

Discussion

2 comments
  1. Nancy Mahaney says:

    Thank you for this statement. Navigating the current administration is proving to be challenging – on the ground – as we struggle with reduced staffing (due to the hiring freeze) and low morale. Having the support of professional associations such as NCPH is critical to our future.

  2. Kara Brunzell says:

    Thank you for protecting our heritage and those who work to preserve it.

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