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Historian makes history

National archivist honored for his work

Created date

October 23rd, 2015
Riderwood resident
Riderwood resident

Meyer Fishbein is a self-described “news junkie.” The New York native says that in second grade, he began reading the newspaper instead of the books his peers were reading. He continues to be an avid consumer of news to this day. 

“Some people enjoy sports,” he says. “My sport is politics.”

Fittingly, Meyer, who studied history at American University, spent his career working in Washington, D.C. He worked at the National Archives and Records Service in a number of different positions, his favorite of which was related to appraisal and retention of records. 

“I liked to get my hands in the work rather than fuss around with the administration of it,” he says.

After he retired from the National Archives in 1980, Meyer continued to work as an archival consultant for Native American tribes in Oklahoma and for his alma mater. He was a member of the International Council on Archives, based in Paris, and he became a fellow of the Society of American Archivists.

During the course of his career, Meyer pioneered the use of electronics for archival purposes. He chaired an international committee on archival automation and conducted seminars on the topic in Europe and Africa.

Honored

In September, Meyer was honored for his work on archival automation at the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists. 

The meeting took place at the Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. The group displayed a sign with a photo of Meyer and information about his career. 

He was stationed in the networking café, where meeting attendees could stop by to chat with him. He says it was a gratifying experience, and it gave him an opportunity to reconnect with former colleagues. 

“A woman came up to me and said, ‘You did a study, and we still use your study in our office,’” Meyer says. “One of the people who came up to me now occupies my position as chairman of the automation committee, and I knew him from the old days.”

Meyer now lives at Rid..., an Erickson Living community in Silver Spring, Md. He and his late wife moved to the community from Bethesda, Md., about 12 years ago. Their adult children, who thought their parents would enjoy the maintenance-free lifestyle that Riderwood provides, were delighted.

“We had a big house that we didn’t need, and it made sense to me,” Meyer says. “I am glad that I did it.”

Current discussion

At Riderwood, Meyer has been able to connect with many other people who share his interest in politics. Given the community’s proximity to Washington, D.C., Meyer is one of many residents who are retired federal government employees. 

Meyer conducted a few seminars about politics for his neighbors at Riderwood. The discussions were a big hit, and someone suggested that he start a regular political discussion group. Meyer now leads monthly meetings for residents who want to talk about White House politics. Typically, a group of about 12 residents participate in the discussions.

“The people who show up tend to be well informed themselves, so it’s always a good discussion,” Meyer says.

The group discusses a range of issues. At recent meetings, they have talked about race, the importance of education, President Obama’s relationships with Congress and the Supreme Court, and the pros and cons of the American government’s agreement with Iran.

“I enjoy good discussions, particularly when people disagree with me,” he says. “It’s like a little game for me.”

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