Historians oppose bill to change archives board nominations

Politics

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Historians are opposing a bill that they say could politicize the board that governs the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Since the nine-member board was established in 1902, its members have nominated their own successors and those nominees have been confirmed by the state Senate.

Senate Bill 2727 says the Archives and History board could recommend nominees, but the governor or lieutenant governor could ignore those recommendations and nominate any person they want. The nominees would still need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Forty-six scholars who teach history at Mississippi colleges and universities signed a letter praising the Department of Archives and History and saying the method of selecting board members should not change. The letter was distributed to House members and news outlets on Thursday.

“Whether conducting research in its vast archives, examining its artifacts spanning 13,000 years of Mississippi history, or participating in one of the Department’s many public events, we have directly experienced the incredible asset of a competent and well-run state history department,” wrote the historians, including Mississippi Humanities Council director Stuart Rockoff.

The bill has passed the Senate and awaits consideration in the House.

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