Society of American Archivists Records, 1935-2018

Contents List
 + Records, 1935-2018

Administrative/Restriction Information

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The records in the Web Archives Series were collected using the Archive-It Web Archiving tool.

Access Restrictions

Electronic records must be accessed in the Archives reading room, and researchers must use access copies. See an archivist for more information.

Other access restrictions are described in the contents list. Unless noted otherwise, there are no access restrictions on the materials, and the collection is open to all members of the public in accordance with state law.

Use Restrictions

The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of libel, privacy, and copyright which may be involved in the use of this collection (Wisconsin Statutes 19.21-19.39). SAA retains its copyright in this collection.

Custodial History

Provision for long-term preservation of SAA's records was originally made by section 21 of its constitution (1936), which reads:

The minute books, correspondence, and other records of the Society and its committees shall be preserved by the officers and chairmen of the committees and shall be promptly turned over by them to the secretary when their terms expire. Records that have ceased to be of use in conducting the current affairs of the Society may, by direction of the council, be turned over to a depository selected by it for permanent preservation.

Until Council designated a depository in the 1960s, the records migrated with each new secretary, who was expected to maintain control over them. This arrangement was manageable when the records amounted to only a few feet, but it proved impractical as their bulk increased. Complicating the situation was the fact that officers and committee chairs were slow in turning over non-active records. When records were passed to the secretary, they often lacked any order. In his report at the annual meeting, Secretary Henry Browne remarked the "exciting arrival" of several boxes from his predecessor, archivist at the Ford Motor Company. The boxes "looked like a do-it-yourself kit for maintaining a Thunderbird," he joked. "They proved to be the archives of the Society."

Dolores Renze, Colorado State Archivist, was the first secretary to make preservation and processing of the records an ongoing priority. During her term, the archives grew substantially. However, like Browne before her, Renze complained that many past presidents and committee chairs declined to turn over their files, and those who did were "most dilatory in applying [to their own records] the principles of preservation and arrangement which they propound" as professional archivists.

On October 2, 1963, Council resolved that "the archives of the Society be deposited in the official custody of an appointed archivist" and that they "be processed, housed, and serviced in conformance with sound archival principles." Upon completing her term as secretary, Renze was appointed as the first SAA archivist, and the Colorado State Archives designated as the official depository.

On December 30, 1969, Council determined that it was again desirable to place the records under the care of the secretary. Accordingly, President Kahn informed Renze that the records were to be placed in the custody of Gerald F. Ham and placed on deposit at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (now Wisconsin Historical Society) in Madison. Almost two years later, Ham reported that the records had yet to be sent, and Council made arrangements to assist Renze in delivering the records.

During a January 1976 Council meeting, it was reported that the "greatest volume of the Society's archives" were on deposit at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, although "there were additional segments of the records in the custody of several former SAA officers." Councilor J. Frank Cook chaired a committee to collect records of SAA's first forty years, but it yielded few results. During this time, Council began emphasizing the importance of designating a permanent depository, believing that such action would encourage officers and chairs to transfer inactive records.

On October 2, 1978, Council accepted the offer of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Archives, to serve as the permanent depository of SAA's archives and appointed Cook as SAA archivist. Cook and the UW-Madison staff provided access to and preserved the records until Cook's retirement in September 2000. At that time, Council donated its archives to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) Libraries and named the head of its Archives Department as SAA archivist. The records arrived at Milwaukee in April 2001. Section 7 of the SAA Constitution currently provides for the placement and preservation of the SAA archives.

Acquisition Information

The Society of American Archivists made the initial donation of its records in April 2001 (accession 2001-003). Detailed information about subsequent accessions is available upon request.

Processing Information

Detailed information about processing is available upon request.