National Archives: ‘We Made A Mistake’

'No shit" - women everywhere

The National Archives apologised on Twitter yesterday, and has removed the altered image from display, to be replaced with an un-altered image ‘as soon as possible’:

I understand that it wasn’t for official record; more for display purposes, but it’s for marking the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. (I’m not sure ‘tone deaf’ is enough here, but it’ll have to do, for now.)

Seems the ACLU would also like to know the reasoning behind the alteration of the image (included in the link), which I hope to read the explanation of real soon, along with seeing the replacement image – will it be the unaltered original, or a different photo altogether?



  1. “We apologize, and will immediately start a thorough review of our exhibit policies and procedures so that this does not happen again,” it said.

    where in the policies and procedures does it say “censor the word trump if it is being used in a negative light”?

    • In Trumplandia it’s part of the 1st Amendment. The Press can only by FREE when it slips the shackles of FAKE news, and liberal socialism. Negative reviews of and poor ratings for all Biff related material is a Democrat hoax. All media policies should reflect this.

  2. They apologize for this one. How many more pieces of history are they going to alter? In the future, when the internet (clearly) can’t be relied on as a source of history and fact, when you look to “official” records, how much truth will they contain? We already struggle with this.

    • …not for nothing but some people refer to Herodotus as “the father of history” on account of his “historia” of the Persian wars in ancient Greece being the first such work as far as some people count these things

      …except he was a kid when they were waged & picked a name for his treatise that would have translated as more like questioning or investigation rather than our notion of a historical record

      …so really history has always been pretty questionable?

    • I’m guessing that your comment refers to a not-uncertain future in which Internet content is censored by groups such as governments or businesses. And while I agree, I’d also caution anyone who sees the Internet as any bastion of truth and/or accuracy.

      It’s one of the issues that has plagued technology companies (and their customers, naturally!). They assumed that the free exchange of information provided by the Internet and apps/sites leveraging that platform would be inherently good. They’re wrong, of course, but it’s why so many of these older and larger social media sites and platforms have few systems in place to effectively regulate content.

      Aside: Speaking of which, I didn’t see any articles identifying the kinds of content that would be appropriate on this site. If you’re soliciting entries, then I’d strongly encourage some sort of central resource outlining those guidelines.

      It’ll help in the long run!

      • …given that the place more or less came about off the back of the demise of a couple of the ex-Gawker family of websites (namely Splinter & Deadspin) the kinds of content that would be appropriate is more or less anything someone might have thought fit somewhere in the spectrum of stuff previously found on the Kinja platform (not merely those two sites)…which would mean the kind of list you imply would be impractically long…

        so if you have something you’d like to say about something at greater length than a comment let us know so we can arrange for your account to acquire the necessary privileges…

        either way, delighted to see you here…

      • Yeah I certainly think what we are all learning (the hard way) is MORE access to information really means less access to truth in a lot of ways. Of course, policing the truth has been something that has always been an issue.

        I hear your suggestion about a direction! Our direction is that we have no direction or types of content (like, really, we just wanna hang out and discuss shit that we care about). But I think you’re right, that it might be worth making that clearer.

        • Yeah I certainly think what we are all learning (the hard way) is MORE access to information really means less access to truth in a lot of ways.

          It’s definitely a big issue, and one that tech companies should have considered from the outset. In the United States Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act protects digital services from being held accountable for the content that their customers post while on their platforms, but it’s not blanket immunity. Additionally, it’s not difficult to see the public backlash that would result from sharing factually incorrect or even offensive content on larger platforms.

          But what can you expect of platforms originally created with purposes like voting on the hottest women on campus?

          I read a really interesting article recently about Pinterest, and how they’re unique in actively trying to prevent factually incorrect and harmful information from being shared on its platform. The most recent example is regarding vaccinations, though they’ve made similar efforts in the past regarding cancer and especially breast cancer.

          I wonder if the target demographic is the cause for the difference in approach. Pinterest’s customer base is overwhelmingly female (over 70%, if I remember correctly), which is considered an outlier in tech.

          • But what can you expect of platforms originally created with purposes like voting on the hottest women on campus?

            LOL NEVER forget this, people. That’s interesting about Pinterest – good to know.

    • Am I crazy or shouldn’t an archive been concerned with telling the whole truth and not sanitizing it? Leave that to the press or other orgs to do if they want, but someone has to be telling the hard truth.

      • Right?! Like, ok I know it’s not the same people, but I know a librarian/archivist and I think she’d pass out if someone she worked with was doing this because the whole point is RECORDS.

  3. The National Archives noted that it only modifies pictures when they’re part of the design rather than the record. That policy probably is intended for improving the quality, cropping/resizing, or adding elements intended to highlight the purpose of the display (such as adding text to indicate the exhibit topic). It should not mean fundamentally changing the intent of what the picture displays — especially since it’s contrary to the goal of any archive.

    I think, too, that it’s important to note that certain words were blurred or removed to avoid offending people. These overwhelmingly were words associated with vaginas and vulvas. And while not all women have vaginas, it is an example of further silencing women by restricting the words that we can use to describe our bodies and our issues.

    Overall, poor decision by the Archive!

  4. The idea that censorship was even considered is incredibly alarming. There’s always going to be SOME editorialism when you have an individual, or group of individuals, deciding what is or isn’t worthy of archiving, but for them to alter the record itself is appalling.

  5. I’ve had enough time to think about it and I decided that while I’m disappointed in the National Archives, I’m not surprised they would censor this image or anything else. This is just continuing of an American attempt to tell “apolitical” history, the type that we read about in our high school textbooks and the type we’re seeing increasingly in Disney owned media properties.

    This is only the start. If we live to have grandchildren, they’ll be reading about how Trump was “controversial” but his campaign meant so much to the forgotten people of America. Even into the future people will insist there would be no way to know if he is/was racist.

  6. While we’re all so busy being concerned about the accuracy of our future historical hindsight, I’d just like to recollect and reminisce about the alt-right “Democrat” that will be running against Trump later this year:

    – As was noted by Kamala Harris among others, he opposed the policy of busing underprivileged kids into schools where they could benefit from the transformative power of a better education than might otherwise have been afforded them, which he once referred to as “an asinine policy” (although presumably not following that sort of description of it)

    – While Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman allowed Anita Hill to be berated and later said of his handling of that situation that it “didn’t go as I had hoped” (sure, Mr Chairman. Surely there was nothing you could have done about that)

    – Advocated for US intervention in Bosnia during a more recent conflict in the Balkans (which turned out great)

    – Wrote the Crime Bill and gleefully embraced the credit when it became the Patriot Act (I’m sure we all agree that was just a fantastic idea)

    – Voted for the Patriot Act (of course he did)

    – Voted for the Iraq War (see above)

    – Presented the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal to George W Bush (see above)

    – Brushed off hundreds of accusations of inappropriate and unsolicited touching made by women, men and children despite considerable video evidence which elevated to viral status

    – Based his entire 2020 campaign bid on the principle of “I’m not racist, I have a black friend and did I mention he was president?”

    Sure seems like selective recollections are a thing in these parts and a pretty subjective one at that.

    It’s nice to see the sisters out there doing it for themselves which is ironic seeing as:

    a) a lot of those ladies are white and 53% of them voted for Trump

    b) things that have been problems for WoC suddenly get traction when they happen to white ladies

    c) as with many marches, a lot of people turned up and felt like they did a thing that meant something, but it made no difference to the grievance they sought to address in most of the more meaningful senses

    d) taking the race thing into account, when the brother getting helped out is Biden-white and running on the “down with the black vote” ticket, it sure seems like exactly the wrong kind of call-back/double-down combo.

    Whether or not the signs go into the national archives, the vaginas are still shooting blanks.

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