Claudine Weiher: The Fight for Independence

The National Archives History Office continues to celebrate women’s history month. Today’s post comes from Kirsten Dillon. 

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Claudine Weiher, ca. 1978. (National Archives History Office Collection)

Claudine Weiher, former Deputy Archivist, was born Claudine Jackson on November 24, 1941, in Kansas City, MO.

Weiher came to the National Archives in 1966, where she certainly left her mark.

Weiher was trained as a historian and archivist, but at the National Archives she spent most of her career as part of the senior staff, working on managing and budgeting for what was then the National Archives and Records Service (NARS).

Sixth Archivist of the United States Robert “Bob” M. Warner recalled Weiher fondly in his book Diary of a Dream. He stated that she “was destined to have great impact of NARS during my tenure and even greater under my successors.”

At the beginning of Weiher’s time at the National Archives, the agency was under the General Services Administration (GSA), and as the years progressed, the topic of independence became a huge issue.

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Claudine Weiher, 1985. (Records of the National Archives)

Warner’s time as Archivist was spent fighting for independence from the GSA, and although at times the idea seemed to be a lost cause, Weiher was always at the center.

In 1983, GSA Administrator Gerald P. Carmen, was unhappy with Warner, his Deputy Archivist George N. Scaboo, and Weiher, whose official title was Assistant Archivist for Program Support.

There were rumors circulating that the three would be ousted from their jobs if their search for independence continued. The issues between NARS and GSA culminated with hearings on Capitol Hill and meetings between Warner and Carmen at the National Archives.

Weiher helped prepare testimony on the issue of independence, built up support throughout other agencies, and was key to helping Warner develop his strategy for NARS independence.

On October 19, 1984, President Reagan signed legislation that removed the National Archives from GSA and renamed the agency the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) effective April 1, 1985.

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Archivist of the United States Robert Warner and Claudine Weiher holding the new official NARA seal, April 4, 1985.

Weiher was part of the staff that helped restructure the agency.

In 1985, when Warner resigned, Weiher was considered as his replacement but ultimately was not selected. She continued to serve the National Archives in various capacities including Acting Deputy Archivist in 1986-87, and Deputy Archivist from 1988 to 1993.

Once the National Archives had gained its independence, Weiher moved on to protect the agency in a new way.

She helped to create “clean” reading rooms in the National Archives, which meant only a pencil was allowed inside research rooms, and bags and coats were limited. This policy minimized the risk of damage and theft of important historical documents.

In the latter part of her career as Deputy Archivist, Weiher was a more visible National Archives staff member.

She routinely provided statements to the media, and even when controversy struck, which it did, Weiher stood by the National Archives.

Claudine Weiher’s time at the National Archives was memorable. She worked tirelessly alongside Robert Warner and other staff to gain an independent National Archives, which is a success from which all employees today benefit.

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Archivist trainees in 1967-1968: (back row from left to right) Robert Svenningsen, Rudolph Rangel, Cleveland Collier, Donald Danuloff, Clarence Lyons, Charles South, Terry Good, and John Fawcett; (middle row from left to right) E. William Johnson, Steven Carson, William Murphy, William Reader, Harold Kremble, John Clement, and Carmen Delle Donne; (front row from left to right) Sandra Irwin, Janet Hargett, Claudine Weiher, and Sandra Turner, 1968. (National Archives Identifier 23855325)

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