AHA Questions Smithsonian Secretary's Recent Letter





Responding to a recent letter from Lawrence Small, Secretary of the Smithsonian, AHA President Linda Kerber questioned the Institution's obfuscation about the contractual arrangement between the Smithsonian and Showtime, praised recent congressional intervention on the issue, and supported the recent actions of its affiliate, the Society of American Historians, in suspending Smithsonian Press as a publisher-member.

In a letter unanimously endorsed by the Association's governing Council, Kerber notes that despite recent letters and statements from the Smithsonian, "The fundamental issues remain unanswered. What constitutes a 'commercial' entity subject to these provisions? What constitutes a 'significant use' of materials and staff? And who at the Smithsonian or Showtime will make those assessments?"

Noting the "lack of a clear response from the Smithsonian," the letter applauds the recent letter from the Chair and the Ranking Minority Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, and concludes that, "We hope that their attention will bring a satisfactory resolution to this very troubling situation."

Click here to read the Smithsonian board's response to questions posed by Congress about the deal with Showtime.


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