Allen Weinstein, provocative historian and former U.S. archivist, dies at 77

Historians in the News
tags: Allen Weinstein, obituary



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Allen Weinstein, a historian who wrote a provocative book about accused Cold War spy Alger Hiss, was an early Western advocate for Russian leader Boris Yeltsin, and served as the ninth archivist of the United States, died June 18 at a nursing home in Gaithersburg, Md. He was 77.

The cause was pneumonia, said his son Andrew Weinstein.

Dr. Weinstein served from 2005 until 2008 as chief of the National Archives and Records Administration — the institution that preserves the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as well as billions of documents, photographs, maps and other materials accumulated in more than two centuries of American history.

He had previously established himself as an academic, with professorships at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., Georgetown University and Boston University. Outside academia, he held leadership roles at nonprofit institutions — most notably the Center for Democracy in Washington, which he founded in the mid-1980s and led as president until 2003.

In that capacity, he became, as the Los Angeles Times once described him, the “advance team in America” for Yeltsin, the Russian reformist leader. When hard-liners attempted a coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, Yeltsin and his camp used Dr. Weinstein as an intermediary in the United States, sending him faxes and other notifications of the news. ...




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