Preserving our history

Dear Libertarian,

Our party is growing and I am thrilled to help welcome so many “newborn Libertarians”.

But, as we grow and move towards our future, we MUST know our past, and we are in serious danger of losing it.

Many of the original delegates and liberty-fighters that started this party have passed away and with them go their memories and their archives.

I have had a passion for our history from the very first moment I read our Statement of Principles and this continues unabated to this day.

Last December I visited our headquarters and asked for a tour of the archives, and when I got the thrill of holding the very first issues of LP News and older news release and pictures and materials, I was overcome with the conviction that this was the common property of us all.

Everyone should have this opportunity to at least see all of this work and these treasures.

We have a deep ideological history and knowing that we stand on the shoulders of giants and continue in paths laid down by others helps to ground and inspire the eager new Libertarians we have brought in and re-ignite the fire in the belly of those who have been working for years.

Other than the sheer love of our history and our principles, there is a very practical side to this work.

There are very few things that are completely new and this party has written on freedom issues over decades. So, why should affiliates and candidates have to re-invent the wheel when we are asked about how we would end taxation, defend gun rights, or even…. build the roads?

With these archives available, Libertarians could re-construct and tailor press releases and talking points without having to re-expend precious resources.

Also, knowing history keeps us from repeating bad history.

Oftentimes we believe we have some “new idea” or solution but if we only knew our history we could know it has been tried before and where it might not have worked—and thus save ourselves from repeating past mistakes.

History is important. It matters.

No one will save our history if we don’t.

I believe this may be one of the most important projects I will work on in my life.

I have traveled from convention to convention re-igniting and starting the passion for our history in affiliate after affiliate.

We are currently preparing the archives to be moved from headquarters in Alexandria, VA, to Colorado, where I live and will be managing the organizing and cataloging of these precious items.

I am a professional paralegal with over twenty years of experience in document management.

Once we know what we have, we will know what we don’t have, and the hunt will begin to find those missing pieces. Also, it will allow us to concentrate first on the items of most interest and most use to party members and move on from there.

For example, newsletters of all kinds are of general and intense interest. Already, we have scanned all the past archive issues of Liberty Pledge and made them available and have assembled a “most wanted” list of missing issues… you can see the archive here.

You can view similar archives of past platforms that are in fact complete and wonderfully preserved here.

Our next target is all of those old issues of LP News from 1972 onward.
This will be a huge project as we have an incomplete collection of these items in our archives and they are fragile. We’ll also have to overcome the challenges of scanning large newsprint pieces.

After those items, we will find training materials, minutes (particularly convention minutes), position papers, and the like. This work needs volunteers and funding.

The home for these records will be – the working collaborative, crowd-sourced history of the Libertarian Party.

From the description page: “LPedia is not Wikipedia. Unlike Wikipedia, which is based on the model of an encyclopedia, LPedia is more like a library. LPedia includes encyclopedia-style articles, including articles based on or describing historical documents, but it also includes the historical documents themselves.”

This will not be limited to national items, though national items are those items in the scope of our Historical Preservation Committee. State parties can also use LPedia to preserve and update their history. It will take on a life of its own. Spontaneous order if you will. Very libertarian.

I invite you to start an account today and start documenting the part of our history that you know.

And I also ask that you consider donating towards our historical preservation efforts. You can do so here.

Caryn Ann Harlos
LNC Region 1 Representative
Chair, Libertarian Party Historical Preservation Committee

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