Since last year, we’ve been working closely with a group of highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic colleagues at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to plan our cooperative effort to digitize the textual records of the Obama White House. As we described when we signed a Letter of Intent last year, the Foundation is working in partnership with NARA to digitize these records so that they can make them as accessible and available to the public as possible. This is consistent with NARA’s own shift toward digital archiving and strategic focus on expanding citizen access to records, as well as the Foundation’s goal of enabling people around the world to engage with the Obama legacy.
This mass digitization project is unprecedented in its organizational, technical, and logistical complexity, and we are very excited to have reached a legal agreement Opens in a new tab with NARA to govern our partnership as we prepare to embark upon this project together.
With this agreement in place, our cross-organizational working group is now putting the finishing touches on a Request for Proposals for a vendor-partner to carry out the work this project will entail. That includes digitizing roughly 30 million pages of content and creating metadata to enable NARA to preserve, search, and provide access to these historical records under the Presidential Records Act (PRA), alongside more than 500 million digital records that were transferred from the White House at the end of the Obama Administration.
In the end, the unclassified textual records of the Obama White House will be fully digital, and our NARA colleagues will be in a position to, in accordance with the PRA, make the Obama presidential records more broadly accessible and available to the public.
We will keep you updated on our progress and look forward to advancing this goal of greater access and engagement with these important elements of President Obama’s legacy.
Emily Shaw is the Foundation's Digitization Manager and resident librarian.