Society of American Arvhivists Statement
Delivered at the February 6, 2002 Press Conference
Society of American Archivists:
Thank you for allowing me some time to offer the viewpoint of the Society of
American Archivists on the disposition of Rudolph Giuliani's mayoral papers.
My name is Tom Connors and I serve on the national Council of the Society of
American Archivists. SAA is the oldest and largest national professional
organization of archivists in North America. SAA serves the educational and
informational needs of more than 3400 archivists and provides leadership to
ensure the identification of, preservation of and access to records of historical
and cultural importance.
SAA strongly deplores Rudolph Giuliani's decision to by-pass the New York City
Department of Records and Information Services to deposit his mayoral papers and
other materials in a privately maintained third-party institution. These records
were created during Mr. Giuliani's tenure as a public servant and are therefore
His action, though he might state otherwise, has the practical effect of delaying
and thereby denying access to an important body of public information by those
with a legitimate interest in the policy history of Mr. Giuliani's term as Mayor
of the City of New York.
It might be asked why a national organization of archivists wants to speak out on
a local records issue. SAA believes that Mr. Giuliani's action has ramifications
beyond Manhattan and the five boroughs. There seems to be a movement among
certain parties in positions of power in various American locales to create
barriers to American citizens' right to know what their governments-national,
state and local-are doing. Archivists find this trend alarming and want to join
the chorus of outrage that is being raised by the many constituencies who believe
in open access to government information.
In September 2001, this City took a terrible body blow in the form of a terror
attack against the people and institutions of New York and America. The world has
marveled at how this City has rebounded from that blow, how New Yorkers have come
together to rebuild and recover, and how public institutions have done their part
in this effort.
Rudy Giuliani's action seems to work counter to this message of moving forward.
This is a time when New York's public institutions should be strengthened, not
weakened. The former mayor's action weakens the very institution whose charge is
to serve as the custodian of the historical record -- indeed the institutional
memory -- of New York City government.
The Society of American Archivists is proud to join with the other signatories to
the letter and calls on Mayor Bloomberg to rethink this matter and return Rudolph
Giuliani's mayoral records to the City of New York. Thank you.