The Washington Post

Preserving American originals


I strongly objected to the characteri­zation in the July 10 Business article “Today’s immigrants rise right on par with Ellis Island arrivals” of the preservati­on of the original records as “piles of magnificen­t data dumps sat slowly decaying in government warehouses and data centers.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. The National Archives went to great effort to ensure those paper originals were stored safely, using the electronic version of the day (microfilm) to ensure that originals would not have to be handled. The film of every sheet used to record census informatio­n was stored in a way to ensure long-term access. Had the National Archives not taken those steps, it is likely the ability to digitize them might now be impossible.

Edward Mccarter, Ellicott City The writer is retired from the National Archives.

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