Archive for September, 2011

The National Archives Celebrates the United States’ Entry into the Open Government Partnership

Written on: September 21, 2011 | 2 Comments

Yesterday, President Barack Obama unveiled the U.S. National Action Plan during a meeting in New York of the member nations of the Open Government Partnership.  Last Week, the White House also issued a Status Report on the Administration’s Commitment to Open Government.

Open Government Parnership Plan
Over the past year and a half, I’ve written a lot about how the work of the National Archives is based on the belief that citizens have the right to see, examine, and learn from the records that document the actions of their government.  The following are only a few of the areas where the National Archives is making significant contributions to strengthen open government and our democracy.

Records Management
The backbone of a transparent and accountable government is good records management.  Good government cannot be held accountable if it does not preserve – and cannot find – its records.  The exponential growth of electronic records poses multiple challenges.  The National Archives will continue to play a leadership role in finding and developing cost-effective IT solutions needed to meet the electronic records management challenges found in Federal agencies today.

National Declassification Center
The National Declassification Center (NDC) is strengthening open government by improving coordination among agencies and streamlining the declassification process throughout the Federal Government.  The NDC is leading a multi-agency effort to address the backlog… [ Read all ]

“You Puta Da $200.00 Dollars In A The Alley…”

Written on: September 7, 2011 | 2 Comments

Every time I visit a National Archives site around the country, I learn something new.  Passionate staff educates me about the nature of the records in our custody.   At each stop I have jaw-dropping moments.

In a recent visit with our Chicago staff, I learned about Record Group 21, Records of District Courts of the United States, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, U.S. District Court, Chicago.  Specifically, I got a chance to review Criminal Case 4632:  The United States vs. George Pavlick.  Pavlick, the defendant, in mid-December 1910, mailed a threatening letter to Max Maas of Chicago demanding $200 or Pavlick would kill Maas.  Pavlick was charged with violation of the postal laws—scheming to defraud using the U.S. Post Office.  Pavlick, a minor, pleaded guilty and was turned over to the juvenile court.

Extortion letter written by George Pavlick of “The Black Hand.” From Criminal Case 4632: The United States vs. George Pavlick. Pavlick, the defendant, in mid-December 1910, mailed a threatening letter to Max Maas of Chicago.


Robert M. Lombardo, former career Chicago policeman, now faculty member in Loyola University’s criminal justice program researched these records in preparing The Black Hand:  Terror By Letter in Chicago.

An early 1908 Chicago Daily Tribune article… [ Read all ]