Reading Archives

With this blog, I am planning to offer, as regularly as possible, critical observations on the scholarly and popular literature analyzing the nature of archives or contributing to our understanding of archives in society. I hope this blog will be of assistance to anyone, especially faculty and graduate students, interested in understanding archives and their importance to society.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Government Secrecy and the Archival Profession

On Friday, April 10, 2009, Bruce Montgomery, Associate Professor, University of Colorado at Boulder, presented a talk at the University of Pittsburgh School of Information, on "From Richard M. Nixon to George W. Bush: Government Secrecy and the Archival Profession." Bruce P. Montgomery is Faculty Director of Archives at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is the founding director of the UCB Human Rights Initiative and a founding member of the International Federation of Human Rights Centers and Archives. He has served as an analyst of classified documents for the U.S. government, and is currently a consultant for the Institute for Defense Analysis, a Pentagon-funded think tank, to help set up a digital resource center to make available electronic copies of captured al Qaeda, Taliban, and Saddam Hussein-era records. He is the author of three books, including The Bush-Cheney Administration’s Assault on Open Government, Subverting Open Government: White House Materials and Executive Branch Politics, and his most recent, Richard B. Cheney and the Rise of the Imperial Vice Presidency. Articles by Montgomery on the topic of secrecy also have appeared in many leading journals, including Presidential Studies Quarterly, Political Science Quarterly, and American Archivist.

In this talk, Montgomery contrasted the changing nature of government secrecy with the archival profession’s general lack of interest or action about it. This was the third and final lecture in the School’s Archival Agitators and Advocates lecture series.

To access the lecture go to and use “lectures” and “public” respectively as user name and password.

For my assessment of Montgomery’s writings on this topic (not including his most recent publication), see “Secrecy, Archives, and the Archivist: A Review Essay (Sort Of),” American Archivist 72 (Spring/Summer 2009): 213-230 (this review considers three other recent books).