Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small Replies to AHA President’s Letter
Secretary’s letter offers a “perplexing array of contradictions,” declares Linda Kerber in response
- Letter from Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lawrence Small
- Reply of AHA President Linda K. Kerber to Secretary Small
In a lengthy response to AHA President Linda Kerber’s original communication of April 14, 2006, Lawrence Small, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, dismissed the criticism leveled against the Smithsonian’s deal with Showtime Television Network (for details of the deal and historians’ reactions to it, see Bruce Craig’s article in the May 2006 Perspectives, and the News Brief item reporting the action taken by the Society of American Historians).
Essentially restating the Smithsonian’s position expressed elsewhere, Secretary Small argued in his reply that noncommercial use of the collections would not be affected, and that the “community of historians, archivists, librarians, and researchers . . . will not be excluded or restricted from access to the Smithsonian’s archives, collections and libraries, and our staff.”
In a brief but strongly worded reply to Secretary Small, AHA President Linda Kerber thanked him for his letter, but said that the fundamental issues remain unanswered and that the distinction he sought to make between commercial and non-commercial users was not meaningful. In fact, she went on to say, Small’s letter only served “to reinforce the concerns that prompted us to write,” and that it offered a “perplexing array of contradictions.” Kerber concluded by stating “Given the lack of a clear response from the Smithsonian, we can only applaud the Chair and the Ranking Minority Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies for investigating these matters. We hope that their attention will bring a satisfactory resolution to this very troubling situation.”
© American Historical AssociationLast Updated: February 26, 2008 11:00 AM