Today, Friday (October 21), the National Archives and the National Archives Foundation will host the third in its “National Conversations” series, in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. The discussion, titled, “Amending America: Women’s Rights and Gender Equality,” will be focused on issues surrounding comparative opportunity and egalitarianism between the sexes, both historically and today.
The all-day event features panel discussions with national leaders, including Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and award-winning broadcast anchor and chief executive of Starfish Media Group Soledad O’Brien. The Broadsheet recently sat down with Dorothy Dougherty, the programs director for the National Archives in New York. Here is what she had to say.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the National Archives Foundation? Its origin, funding and mission?
For 24 years, the National Archives Foundation has passionately stood side-by-side with the Archivist of the United States to educate, enrich, and inspire a deeper appreciation of our country’s heritage. As the National Archives’ nonprofit partner, the Foundation increases public awareness of the National Archives, inspires a deeper appreciation of our country’s heritage, and encourages citizen engagement in our democracy. The Foundation generates financial and creative support for National Archives exhibitions, public programs, and educational initiatives, introducing America’s records to people around the U.S. and the world. You can learn more by going to www.archivesfoundation.org.
Q: What’s the mission and history of the National Archives?
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), was established in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt, with major holdings dating back to 1775, and is the nation’s record keeper. Today, NARAs’ collection of federal records includes more than 12 billion pages of paper records; 12 million maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings; 25 million still photographs and graphics; 24 million aerial photographs; 300,000 reels of motion picture film; 400,000 video and sound recordings; and six billion electronic records-or eight trillion pages if they were printed. These records are vital to understanding and documenting the decisions of Government and provide immeasurable value to citizens. The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, located in the National Archives museum in Washington, D.C., is also the permanent home of the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and Bill of Rights.
But as important as these national treasures are, there are equally inspiring resources right here in New York City. The National Archives at New York City has more than 150,000 cubic feet of historically significant records of some 85 federal agencies and courts in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, dating from 1685 to the present. New Yorkers can visit our Research Center to search original and online documents from our holdings, browse our exhibit gallery, or stop by our Learning Center for a variety of educational programs, including teacher workshops, student field trips, genealogy workshops, lectures, family activities and more.
Q: The Agenda will include discussions about gender equality and human rights. In light of the presidential contest, will the conduct of both candidates and their spouses likely to be discussed?
We anticipate that this “National Conversation” will be a dynamic discussion framed by our historical context and rooted in current events. This year marks the 96th anniversary of women earning their right to vote. It’s safe to assume-given the historic nature of this election and the role that women are continuing to play-that this will be part of the day’s discussion.
Q: What’s the future goals of the National Archives?
In response to public interest and demand, the National Archives and National Archives Foundation will continue to work together on opportunities to elevate and intensify the work at the core of our mission: increase public access to the Archives and the breadth of its records, create innovative programs that engage the public and connect individual lives to our collective history, and embrace the primacy of digital information in modern life.
Q: Tell us about the event on October 21, and what Lower Manhattanites might find of interest.
The National Archives chose New York for this “National Conversation” because of its rich history of honoring women and families, from the Suffragette movement to the fight for equal rights today. The event will focus on women’s rights, gender equality, and advocacy and feature panel discussions with not only national leaders but some of our local heroes focused on this work, including: the noted journalist, Soledad O’Brien; Noreen Farrell from the Equal Rights Advocates; Anna Eleanor Roosevelt of Goodwill Industries; Suzanne Braun Levine of Ms. Magazine; and Stephanie Toti from the Center for Reproductive Rights. Aja Monet, the poet will be doing the closing performance This is a uniquely New York event that Lower Manhattanites are sure to enjoy.
The National Conversation on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality will take place at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House (One Bowling Green, near the intersection of Broadway and Battery Place) on Friday (October 21), from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is free and open to the public, but anyone wishing to attend is asked to register in advance at this link: www.archivesfoundation.org/ amendingamerica/conversations/women/