I write because I became aware last night that the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has made a request to destroy tens of thousands of documents produced during the last 50 years. Although it is standard practice to destroy some documents, two considerations make this a unique situation. The first is, quite simply, the question of scale. Additionally, the documents relate to particularly charged issues: oil and gas leases, mining, dams wells, timber sales, marine conservation, endangered and non-endangered species, and land acquisition.
This is not the first time in recent memory that we have seen such a covert move to obliterate our capacity to narrate and account for the past. Those who are particularly invested in the history of mental disability might also recall that the DOI also produced records for the Canton Insane Asylum and St. Elizabeths Hospital.
If you are as troubled by this as I, you have until Tuesday, November 23 to mobilize. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has extended the deadline for public comments, which should be sent to:
Please note that you are commenting on request DAA-0048-2015-0003.
Liberal Studies Department
Western Washington University