Archivist of the United States


The Archivist of the United States is the head and chief administrator of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the United States. The Archivist is responsible for the supervision and direction of the National Archives.[1]

Archivist of the United States
Seal of the United States National Archives and Records Administration.svg
Seal of the National Archives
National Archives and Records Administration
StyleMr. Archivist
StatusChief administrator
SeatNational Archives Building, Washington, D.C.
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Term lengthIndefinite
Constituting instrument44 U.S.C. § 2103
FormationJune 19, 1934
First holderR.D.W. Connor
DeputyDeputy Archivist of the United States
SalaryExecutive Schedule, level III

The first Archivist, R.D.W. Connor, began serving in 1934, when the National Archives was established as an independent federal agency by Congress. The Archivists served as subordinate officials of the General Services Administration from 1949 until the National Archives and Records Administration became an independent agency again on April 1, 1985. The position was most recently held by David Ferriero, who left office on April 30, 2022. President Joe Biden has not yet named a successor.


The Archivist is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate and is responsible for safeguarding and making available for study all the permanently valuable records of the federal government, including the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, which are displayed in the Archives' main building in Washington, D.C.

Under Public Law No. 98-497, the Archivist also must maintain custody of state ratifications of amendments to the Constitution and it is the Archivist's duty to issue a certificate proclaiming a particular amendment duly ratified and part of the Constitution if the legislatures of at least three-quarters of the states approve the proposed amendment.[2] The Amendment and its certificate of ratification are then published in the Federal Register and the amendment is included in the United States Statutes at Large. Before the enactment of that statute in 1984, that duty was vested in the General Services Administration, and, before the establishment of that Agency in 1949, it formed part of the duties of the United States Secretary of State.

In accordance with Title 1, Chapter 2 §106a of the United States Code, the Archivist of the United States also receives the original version of all statutes of the United States, once enacted.[3] Joint Resolutions and Acts of Congress signed into law by the president are delivered by the office of the President to the National Archives. The same happens if a bill becomes law because the president fails to approve or veto it within the constitutionally mandated period of time (ten days, excluding Sundays, and only counted when Congress is in session). If the President vetoes a bill but the presidential veto is overridden, the new law is transmitted to the National Archives not by the office of the President, but by Congress: in this case, the presiding officer of the last House to consider the bill certifies that the presidential objection was overridden, and sends the new law to the Archivist of the United States. In all cases, the office of the Archivist (the National Archives) maintains custody of the original document and (by means of the Office of the Federal Register, a division of the National Archives), assigns the new Act of Congress a public law number, provides for its publication as a slip law and for the inclusion of the new statute in the United States Statutes at Large. The actual printing and circulation of the slip law and of the volumes of the United States Statutes at Large is the responsibility of the Government Publishing Office, headed by the Director of the Government Publishing Office.

By means of the Office of the Federal Register, the National Archives also publishes documents of the Executive Branch, such as presidential proclamations and executive orders, retaining custody of the original signed documents. NARA also has many duties regarding the preservation of presidential papers and materials.

In all United States presidential elections, the Archivist of the United States also has duties concerning the custody of Electoral College documents, such as certificates of ascertainment declaring the names of the presidential electors chosen in each state, and of the certificates of vote produced by the electors of each state.[4] In practice, these administrative responsibilities are delegated to the Director of the Federal Register.[5]

Archivists of the United StatesEdit

The following is a list of Archivists of the United States[6]

  Denotes acting archivist
No. Picture Archivist Start of Term End of Term President(s)
1   Robert Digges Wimberly Connor October 10, 1934 September 15, 1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt
2   Solon J. Buck September 18, 1941 May 31, 1948 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
3   Wayne C. Grover June 2, 1948 November 6, 1965 Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
4   Robert H. Bahmer* November 7, 1965 March 9, 1968 Lyndon B. Johnson
5   James B. Rhoads** March 10, 1968 August 31, 1979 Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
  James E. O'Neill September 1, 1979 July 23, 1980 Jimmy Carter
6   Robert M. Warner July 24, 1980 April 15, 1985 Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
  Frank G. Burke April 16, 1985 December 4, 1987 Ronald Reagan
7   Don W. Wilson December 4, 1987 March 24, 1993 Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
  Trudy Huskamp Peterson March 25, 1993 May 29, 1995 Bill Clinton
8   John W. Carlin May 30, 1995 February 15, 2005 Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
9   Allen Weinstein February 16, 2005 December 19, 2008 George W. Bush
  Adrienne Thomas December 19, 2008 November 5, 2009 George W. Bush
Barack Obama
10   David Ferriero November 6, 2009 April 30, 2022 Barack Obama
Donald Trump
Joe Biden
  Debra Steidel Wall May 1, 2022 Incumbent Joe Biden

*Served first as Acting Archivist of the United States from November 7, 1965, until his appointment as Archivist of the United States on January 16, 1966.

**Served first as Acting Archivist of the United States from March 10, 1968, until his appointment as Archivist of the United States on May 2, 1968.


  1. ^ 44 U.S.C. § 2102
  2. ^ Pub.L. 98–497
  3. ^ 1 U.S.C. § 106a
  4. ^ 3 U.S.C. §§ 6–13
  5. ^ U. S. Electoral College: Roles and Responsibilities
  6. ^ "Archivists of the United States: 1934–Present". Archived from the original on February 25, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2009.

External linksEdit

  • Official website
  • AOTUS Blog - from the "Collector in Chief"
  • Archivists of the United States, 1934 – present