How Will Historians Be Affected by the Government Shutdown?

tags: government shutdown



David Austin Walsh is the editor of the History News Network. Follow him on Twitter @DavidAstinWalsh


The National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. is closed.

With the government shutdown only a scant eleven hours old, historians, researchers, and the general public are already being affected.

Basically, it's just gotten a lot harder to do history throughout the country.

Here's a rundown of what's closed, what services are suspended, and what remains open.

The good news? Unlike the Library of Congress website, the National Archives website is -- as of 12:23pm Eastern -- still operational. Even the online search tools. Just scroll down from the nasty-looking notice and you'll see a menu bar at the bottom.

What's affected:

  • Most federal historians have been deemed non-critical and have been furloughed. Several thousand historians are therefore temporarily without work.*

  • ALL National Archives facilities are closed, including the National Archives Building n Washington, D.C., the main research facility in College Park, MD, regional National Archives facilities across the country, presidential libraries, regional archives, and archives at the service academies. All events are cancelled.

    The only exceptions, according to the National Archives and Records Administration website, are Federal Records Centers and the Federal Register.

    Federal Records Centers are repositories primarily servicing federal agencies. I called the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland to ask about service -- a spokesman declined to comment.

  • All FOIA processing will be temporarily suspended.

  • The Library of Congress is closed and its websites – except for the legislative information sites THOMAS.gov and Congress.gov, are shut down. All events are cancelled.

  • Historical offices are individual federal agencies are generally closed.

  • The National Parks Service is closed, meaning all national parks and historic sites are inaccessible to the public. Walkthroughs of historic battlefields are not permitted (there's a silver lining: the Ku Klux Klan will probably not be holding a rally at Gettysburg on Saturday anymore).

  • All Smithsonian museums are closed and events are cancelled. Other federal museums across the country, from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Ohio to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are also closed.

  • The National Endowment for the Humanities has ceased operations. It will not be processing any applications or transactions, nor will its website be updated.

  • The Naitonal Historical Publications and Records Commission is closed. However, the website Grants.gov will continue to accept applications.

  • The U.S. Government Accountability Office is closed.

What's open?

  • State and local archives are still open, including affiliated archives of NARA.

  • Arlington National Cemetery remains open.

  • Due to Washington D.C. mayor Vincent Gray's designating all District of Columbia employees as critical, local archives in Washington, D.C. remain open during the shutdown.

  • Privately operated National Historic Landmarks, such as Mount Vernon, remain open.

*If you're friends with a federal historian, now would be the time to buy them a drink.


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