What Are You Working On, Tally Fugate?

Ever wonder what exciting new projects the many employees at NARA are working on? The “What are You Working On?” blog feature aims to introduce a variety of NARA employees and highlight some of the exciting projects we are working on around the agency. Check for this blog series on Wednesdays!

Continuing our series-within-a-series on getting the George W. Bush Presidential Library up and running, we’ll turn to a textual archivist at the library, Tally Fugate.

What is your name and title?

Tally D. Fugate, Archivist

Tally Fugate with Laura Bush book

Where is your job located?

I am an archivist for the George W. Bush Presidential Library. The library is located, temporarily, in Lewisville, Texas.  Construction is taking place at the library’s permanent building location which will be on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

What is your job in a nutshell?

In a nutshell, my current duties include systematic processing, such as arrangement, description, preservation, and review of documents from various White House collections and series. In so doing, I apply the Presidential Records Act restrictions and Freedom of Information Act exemptions on certain documents in preparation for notification and opening. I also assist with special access document requests from the current White House as well as Congress and the Office of George W. Bush.

What are you working on right now?  (Why is it cool/why does it matter?)

In addition to my current duties, I assist with several special projects, and since we are a new library there is a lot to do!   For example, the library’s permanent building will include a museum, and I have assisted the exhibit designers with identifying documents for display.  The library’s website development is also underway, and I serve as a point of contact for its content development. Both the exhibit and website projects will incorporate much of today’s innovative technology and provide access, education, and research information to visitors about the library, its holdings, and the American presidency. We plan to include touch screens, virtual tours, social networking, and a variety of other entertaining yet educational interactive features.

The library is also planning to host a First Ladies Conference next year. It will be an opportunity for attendees to receive an insider’s glimpse into the important role, as well as political, social, and global influence, of the nation’s First Lady. I have been assisting with developing the conference sessions, recommending guest speakers, and identifying documents for the library’s education specialist to use in a traveling trunk.  However, I must admit that I am in awe of the thought of having the opportunity to meet some of the former senior staff and historians of the First Ladies whose works I have read. And I am very excited that First Ladies are being recognized!

Finally, my number one special project is what we call “The Move.” As construction continues on the permanent building, the library staff is very busy preparing for the physical move of our holdings from Lewisville to Dallas. Large boxes have to be rehoused in order to fit on the new shelving; special handling may be needed for some materials; inventories must be done; and every box has to be counted, palletized, and shrink wrapped. And those are only a few of the tasks!

I am assisting my coworkers in this effort by tackling on-the-shelf materials (OTS). These are materials often packed at the White House and too large to fit into legal-sized archival containers. Generally, each item is unpacked, reviewed for transfer to the oversize collection or to the museum, married to its original documentation, or sent to bulk. The items are properly preserved and rehoused and pertinent information gathered and inventoried.  The move begins next fall and the library opens to the public in spring 2013.

How long have you been at NARA?  Have you worked at any other NARA location?

I have been at NARA for three years.

Do you have a favorite day at NARA, or a favorite discovery or accomplishment?

My favorite accomplishment at NARA to date is having had the privilege of being the lead archivist for Laura Bush’s recent book, Spoken from the Heart. I thoroughly enjoyed digging into the White House boxes from the former First Lady’s office to locate requested documents, such as menus, programs, daily schedules, trip books, and initiative-related items.  It was an opportunity to grasp a better inventory of this collection in the library’s early stages. Yet, it was also an opportunity to better understand and appreciate the political, social, and global importance and influence of the nation’s First Lady, a role that comes with many responsibilities for which no paycheck is received.  Each document I located opened my eyes whether it was regarding a long day of detailed planning for a state dinner or a discussion about the treatment of women in Afghanistan.

Shortly after the book’s publication, I received a package in the mail from Mrs. Bush.  In it was a copy of her book. Beautifully inscribed, she thanked me for my enthusiasm and determination in locating hundreds of pages of documents.  I am still humbled by it, perhaps, even more so because I am the first member of my immediate family to graduate from college, and I never thought my name would be known by a First Lady.

What are your passions or interests outside of work?

My interests outside of work include traveling, baking, women’s history, crocheting, and Duran Duran.

What is the last book you read, or the last book you loved?

The last book that I read was The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

One thought on “What Are You Working On, Tally Fugate?

  1. Wow!!! I’ve heard so many stories over the years about the early days of establishing Presidential Libraries: being the first to arrange, describe and explore collections and so becoming the foremost expert on those collections; hearing of the excitement and stress of the moves, and experiencing the honor of working with materials of such historical importance. You and the staff at the George W. Bush Library are making a grand contribution to accomplishing NARA’s mission.

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