Date of this Version
Newsletter of the Association for Documentary Editing, Volume 4, Number 2, May 1982. ISSN 0196-7134
In urging us to rethink the issue of federal financial support for historical editing down to the fundamental level of what deserves this support and why, Ms. Reagor has done us all a favor. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission has a long prehistory dating back to the seminal thought of J. Franklin Jameson; a period of good intentions and inactivity (1934-50); the age of Jefferson-or of Julian P. Boyd-(1950-64); expanded powers with the addition of grant funding (1964- 75); and finally, a bifurcated role with the addition of a records program to its initial mandate. Throughout, there has been an evolving sense of mission, shifts in peripheral concern, and, ultimately, a program of sponsorship and funding based more upon reaction to proposals than upon an initial set of goals.
What Reagor regards as weakness, however, might as fairly be seen as strength. Within the family of long-term sponsored and funded projects, many were founded before the commission had grant funds, and none are totally dependent upon this agency for support; each project represents both a decision by the commission to sponsor or support and a decision by other agencies, institutions, or other sources of funding to provide continuing support. In this dimension, one can argue that each project has passed at least two tests: that of the host institution and that of the commission.