National Archives takes down display after blurring anti-Trump images
The National Archives announced Saturday it took down a display of the Women’s March after admitting it had blurred anti-Trump images.
“We made a mistake,” the Archives said on Twitter. “As the National Archives of the United States, we are and have always been completely committed to preserving our archival holdings, without alteration.”
“We have removed the current display and will replace it as soon as possible with one that uses the unaltered image. We apologize, and will immediately start a thorough review of our exhibit policies and procedures so that this does not happen again,” the Archives added.
We have removed the current display and will replace it as soon as possible with one that uses the unaltered image.
We apologize, and will immediately start a thorough review of our exhibit policies and procedures so that this does not happen again.
— US National Archives (@USNatArchives) January 18, 2020
The apology comes after the Archives admitted it had altered signs from previous marches that were critical of the president and were featured in the display.
Among the alterations are the blotting out of the word “Trump” in a placard that reads “God Hates Trump” and the blurring of the same word in another sign that reads “Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women.” Words on other signs referencing female anatomy were also altered.
The Archives initially defended its decision, saying some of the message would be inappropriate for students and young people and that it was an effort to remain nonpartisan.
“As a non-partisan, non-political federal agency, we blurred references to the President’s name on some posters, so as not to engage in current political controversy,” Archives spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman said in a statement to The Washington Post.
“Our mission is to safeguard and provide access to the nation’s most important federal records, and our exhibits are one way in which we connect the American people to those records. Modifying the image was an attempt on our part to keep the focus on the records,” Kleiman added.
Historians had expressed dismay at the alterations, saying blurring the words made the display misleading.
“There’s no reason for the National Archives to ever digitally alter a historic photograph,” Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley told the Post. “If they don’t want to use a specific image, then don’t use it. But to confuse the public is reprehensible. The head of the Archives has to very quickly fix this damage. A lot of history is messy, and there’s zero reason why the Archives can’t be upfront about a photo from a women’s march.”