Public Service Recognition Week

This week the National Archives is celebrating Public Service Recognition Week. Today’s post comes from Hailey Philbin in the National Archives History Office. 

President Obama's Proclamation regarding Public Service Recognition Week, May 1, 2015.
President Obama’s Proclamation regarding Public Service Recognition Week, May 1, 2015.

Since 1985, the first full week in May has been set aside to celebrate and thank the men and women who work in local, state, or Federal governments.

Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) honors the individuals who work to better serve public organizations and the communities in which they live.

This year the week is celebrated between May 1 and May 7.

In May 2015 President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation thanking 2 million civilian workers and 1 million active duty service members for their loyal service to the nation.

He added that he hoped celebrations and events during Public Service Recognition Week would continue to allow employees to feel valued, engaged, and included in their work environment.

During this special week in May, government agencies celebrate their employees across the nation with many initiatives, awards, and social gatherings.

For several years until 2011, a four-day Public Service Recognition exhibition was held on the National Mall.

NARA’s Public Service Recognition Week booth on the Mall. Andrea Matney, Marvin Pinkert, Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein, Cathy Farmer, and Jackie Fultz, 2007. (Records of the National Archives)

The National Archives’ booth on the Mall included activities like “puzzling your way through an Archival Adventure,” from the Boeing Learning Center; enjoying Clifford K. Berryman political cartoons; and adding visitors’ names alongside the Founding Fathers’ on a mock Declaration of Independence.

This event was canceled in 2011 due to a lack of Federal funding. However, individual agencies continue to celebrate their employees in creative and meaningful ways.

The National Archives has a rich record of inclusive events throughout the Public Service Recognition Week.

NARA booth at Public Service Recognition Week, Washington, D.C.May 4, 2006
Jennifer Johnson and Cathy Farmer invite a visitor to sign a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence at NARA’s Public Service Recognition Week booth, Washington, DC, May 4, 2006. (Records of the National Archives)

Perhaps the most visible NARA event held during the week is the Archivist’s Awards. The Archivist Awards started in 2000 under Archivist of the United States John Carlin. The ceremony used to take place in December, but now, under the current Archivist, David. S. Ferriero, it occurs in May to coincide with PSRW.

The Archivist’s Awards honor NARA employees who have gone above and beyond in their daily work and have actively advanced the agency’s ability to achieve the four goals laid out in the Strategic Plan: Make Access Happen, Connect with Customers, Maximize NARA’s Value to the Nation, and Build Our Future through Our People.

Employees may also receive a certificate or pin for reaching milestone service years.

Before the Archivist’s Awards, the National Archives had a series of other awards and ceremonies to celebrate the achievements of employees. Decades before the current awards ceremony, National Archives employees would look forward to attending the National Archives and Records Service Awards Ceremony.

Mrs. Beach accepts a Meritorious Service Award from Archivist of the United States Wayne Grover, 9/16/1963. (National Archives Identifier 12170574)

The original ceremony included the Commendable Service Award as well as the Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards.

Another previous NARA awards ceremony included the General Service Administration Annual Awards Ceremony.

Each activity and award embraces the unique qualities of each employee and explores the strengths they bring to the agency. Employees feel united and valued as part of a greater organization.

Public Service Recognition Week and the Archivist’s Awards celebrate and honor the many innovative and dedicated employees who help NARA function every day.

This week in May shows, to quote Archivist Ferriero, the greatest treasures within the National Archives are its employees.

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