Dr. Colleen Shogan was ceremonially sworn in as the Archivist of the United States on September 11, 2023, at the National Archives Rotunda in Washington, DC, by Chief Justice John Roberts. Emphasizing the essential role of the National Archives in safeguarding democracy, Shogan stressed the importance of transforming the institution in the digital age. Notably, she acknowledged her status as the first woman appointed to this role and wore white to recognize the suffragists’ contributions to American democracy. The ceremony, marking the beginning of Shogan’s tenure, was overseen by Jim Blanchard and featured opening remarks by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who emphasized the significance of the first woman leading the National Archives and Records Administration.
Quotes from Dr. Colleen Shogan:
“The prevalent condition in human history is not democracy or rights-based government. Rather, the default is autocracy and tyranny, where might makes right, with little regard to individual freedom or the pursuit of happiness.”
“What prevents us from falling back into the classic pattern of authoritarianism is our right—our responsibility—to hold our government accountable. That’s what makes the National Archives so important. Without the National Archives and the continued fulfillment of its mission, a healthy democracy cannot be sustained.”
“We will need to embrace technology to meet our mission in ways that might make us uncomfortable at times. New ways of doing things will challenge our second-nature habits and processes. But if we are going to succeed, we must move forward boldly. Timidity will not be our friend as records continue to proliferate at exponential rates.”
“It is the honor of a lifetime to serve as the 11th Archivist of the United States. It’s not lost on me today that I am the first woman appointed to serve in this role.”
“I wore white today to recognize those who made it possible for me to stand here today and take this oath. The suffragists didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, so they aren’t on these murals. But their contribution to the vitality of our democracy is no less meaningful. Along with many other inspiring leaders in American history, they believed in the principles enshrined in these documents, and claimed them as their God-given, natural rights. The fulfillment of those rights, which continues today, is why these documents aren’t simply pieces of parchment. They are living promises to hold our government accountable.”
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