Guide Starting an Archives (Society of American Archivists)

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SAA was founded just two years after Congress created the National Archives and came to be, in part, because the efforts of National Archives staff. But, by the time the National Archives was created in , the commission had largely disbanded.

Society of American Archivists' Business Archives Workshop

The following year, first Archivist of the United States R. The group met in Chattanooga, TN, in December The discussion began with a presentation by Theodore C. Problems included the lack of public records laws at both the state and Federal level; a lack of archival educational resources and opportunities; a lack of classification, cataloging, and description guidelines; and a lack of housing, care, and repair standards for records, among others.


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At the end, he recommended a professional association of American archivists be established to help mitigate the problems. The group then discussed establishing such an association and formed a committee of ten, with an executive committee of three, to write a constitution and organize a meeting.

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After a few minor revisions, the constitution was approved, officers elected, and SAA was born. Set specific goals for the archives. Determine what will be maintained and why. Aside from legal or regulatory compliance needs, each company has its own mission.

Archives Change Lives

How will the company archives serve to support this mission? For example, a manufacturing company should retain product and packaging samples, design materials, and product marketing brochures. Artifacts, such as samples of employee awards, party favors, and promotional items, have historical value and should be preserved in an archives.

Once you have sketched out your goals and objectives, create a clear, focused collection policy for determining what to keep and—just as important—what not to keep.

Ask an Archivist Day

If you have a records management program, coordinate your archival plans with this program to insure that you identify and retain records of enduring value in the archives. Most companies instinctively save documents that might have historical value or legal importance, but without guidelines the tendency can be to save everything. According to the Society of American Archivists, most business archives should be comprised of less than 3 percent of all company records. In our experience, many corporate archives are achieved as a result of a multi-step process. Consider reaching out to professionals who can help.

Professional archivists can help you think through a collection policy, prioritize tasks, and advise you how to allocate resources more efficiently.

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She assisted in implementing the online payment system for MAA. Lauren recently moved back to Kalamazoo, her hometown, where her main job is as the local history librarian at Comstock Township Public Library outside Kalamazoo. Before that she worked for a private archives and for History Associates, Inc. Stefanie has served as Secretary of MAA since Click here to register for the annual meeting!


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  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Sign me up! We encourage participation from all members. Create a free website or blog at WordPress. Michigan Archival Association archival association. Possible session topics include, but are not limited to: All things digital access, preservation, new technologies, etc. Archivists in non-traditional settings e. There will be a separate call for poster session proposals in early Let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to hearing from you!

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