[Congressional Record: September 11, 2008 (Senate)]
[Page S8391-S8392]                      


      By Mr. WARNER (for himself and Mr. Webb):
  S. 3477. A bill to amend title 44, United States Code, to authorize 
grants for Presidential Centers of Historical Excellence; to the 
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
  Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce legislation with 
Senator Webb to help encourage the preservation of, and public access 
to, historical documents and records of former United States 
Presidents. Congressman Goodlatte is joining us in this effort and has 
introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.
  The preservation of historical documents is critical to the future of 
any nation. Current and future generations can look upon the examples 
of those that came before and learn from their accomplishments, as well 
as their mistakes. Our Founding Fathers understood the need to preserve 
important documents for future generations. Thomas Jefferson once said 
that ``a morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as to be always 
valuable.'' In addition, he considered it ``the duty of every good 
citizen to use all the opportunities, which occur to him, for 
preserving documents relating to the history of our country.''
  Today, we have federally supported presidential libraries from 
President Hoover onward, but, generally, we do not have federally 
supported libraries for Presidents prior to President Hoover. The 
documents and records of these Presidents are scattered throughout 
America. In our view, the Federal Government should be taking an active 
role in encouraging the preservation of these documents.
  In Virginia, we have an organization that has been leading the way in 
preserving the records of President Woodrow Wilson. To date, the 
Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library has preserved several thousand 
documents. Last year alone, the library received more than one million 
Wilson-related documents, and it is in the process of preserving these 
documents and will make them freely available on the Internet. 
Thousands of people visit the library each year to see documents that 
have never been seen before in public. In my view, libraries like the 
Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library are critical to our Nation's 
history, and we should be encouraging more organizations to engage in 
this important endeavor.
  The legislation I introduce today will help encourage these and other 
efforts to preserve, and provide public access to, these historical 
documents by authorizing the National Archives and Records 
Administration to provide grants to certain organizations to support 
their efforts in preserving the historical records of past Presidents.
  I want to thank the National Archives for their assistance in 
drafting this important legislation. I look forward to working with my 
colleagues in the Senate to see this legislation signed into law.
  Mr. WEBB. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce bipartisan 
legislation with my colleague, Senator Warner, which will authorize the 
National Archives and Records Administration to make grants for the 
preservation of records and other historical documents of American 
Presidents. Grants will be available to entities seeking to preserve 
the records and other historical documents of Presidents who do not 
have a presidential library managed and maintained by the Federal 
Government. This legislation represents the hard work and dedication of 
numerous stakeholders who are working to preserve these historical 
documents for present and future generations to enjoy.
  The Presidential Historical Records Preservation Act builds upon 
existing efforts by the National Historical Publications and Records 
Commission to promote the preservation and use of America's documentary 
heritage by making grants available to non-profit entities, states and 
local communities that are seeking to preserve the records and 
historical documents of American Presidents. This legislation 
compliments the mission of the National Historical Publications and 
Records Commission by helping the American public understand our 
democracy, history, and culture. Our country will be better off for 
having an

[[Page S8392]]

improved, more complete understanding of American Presidents and their 
  I would like to especially thank the Woodrow Wilson Presidential 
Library Foundation for its efforts to bring this issue to Congress' 
attention. For the last seventy years, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential 
Library Foundation in Staunton, Virginia has admirably served as 
caretaker of President Woodrow Wilson's papers and artifacts, 
dedicating itself to the preservation of Wilson's legacy. But it has 
done so without the resources afforded to other presidential libraries 
in the Federal system.
  This legislation, if enacted, will help the Woodrow Wilson 
Presidential Library Foundation, and other non-profit entities like it, 
preserve and make available to the public the historical records and 
documents of American Presidents. The Woodrow Wilson Presidential 
Library serves as the center for education and study of Woodrow 
Wilson's life and legacies, and the passage of this legislation will 
enable people from this country and abroad to learn more about the life 
and work of our nation's 28th President.
  I would also like to thank the Archivist of the United States, Dr. 
Allen Weinstein, and his staff for their dedication and service to our 
nation. Their efforts in assisting Senator Warner and me as we crafted 
this legislation represent the very best in good government and 
commitment to serving the American public.
  I am hopeful that the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs will consider this legislation expeditiously and that we can 
enact it during the remainder of this congressional session.
  I ask that my full statement be printed in the Record where the bill 
appears. I yield the floor.