One of the restored buildings in the Colonial Williamsburg historic site is the Secretary's Office, built in 1747-48, the oldest public records structure in the English-speaking colonies. Probably few archivists and other records professionals know that the antecedents of their profession are well represented in such a popular tourist attraction. This essay considers three lessons for archivists in their quest for greater public understanding and support, drawing on how this old public records structure has been interpreted. First, the essay suggests that the story of the Secretary's Office is not well known by archivists and those interested in the history of efforts to preserve our documentary heritage. Second, the essay recounts the story of the failure by America's premier and pioneering historic site to interpret fully the legacy of the public records office. Finally, the essay indicates that the lack of interpretation represents a lost opportunity to promote public understanding of what records represent, why archives are important, and the work of archivists.

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