This news release was passed my way this morning. I’m always encouraged when governments fund preservation of historical records.

On September 26, the U.S. Senate passed the Presidential Historical Records Preservation Act, sponsored by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), to ensure that grant funding is available to preserve the documents of presidents who served before President Herbert Hoover.

The House of Representatives approved its version of the bill, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Tom Davis (R-Va.), on September 27. It now goes to President Bush to be signed into law.

Through the Presidential Library Act of 1955, the National Archives and Records Administration manages and maintains 12 presidential libraries, from presidents Hoover to Clinton. These facilities are privately constructed and deeded to the federal government, and house official records and papers of those former presidents.

But the documents of pre-Hoover presidents, who have no libraries of their own, also deserve careful historical preservation. Due to the geographic distribution of those papers, it is unlikely that a single library dedicated to such conservation will ever be built.

This legislation provides modest grants on a competitive, discretionary basis to worthwhile nonprofits and state or local governments willing to engage in such preservation efforts, and will ensure public access to preserved records. Grant recipients must provide a 100-percent match to all federal government monies, and the archivist of the United States, charged with safeguarding historical documents, will decide which records are appropriate for preservation.

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