n. (abbr. SAA)a professional organization, based in the United States, supporting the archival community through advocacy and educationNewsome 1939a, 1So similar are the problems that archivists of the various states long ago learned that they could learn from each other. From 1909 they assembled annually at the call of the Public Archives Commission of the American Historical Association to sit in study at each other’s feet. An evolving consciousness of a national community of archival problems and interests, based on a growing realization of their similarity in the forty-eight states, produced the Society of American Archivists in 1936. The organization of the Society and the establishment of the National Archives signalized the nationalization as well as the professionalization of archival interest and effort in the United States.Binkley 1939, 162The American public library system made a phenomenal growth a generation ago with the impetus of the Carnegie fortune behind it. The archival system of this country is now entering a similar period with the launching of the National Archives, the work of the Historical Records Survey, and the organization of the Society of American Archivists fostering it.Newsome 1939b, 221By their activity in stimulating archival legislation, state and federal archivists and the Society of American Archivists have definitely recognized the improvement of production as a proper archival function.Newsome 1963, 299The establishment of the National Archives and the organization of the Society of American Archivists signalize the nationalization of archival interests in the United States.Brichford 1980, 431The Society of American Archivists includes federal, state, and local archivists; business, religious, and academic archivists; manuscripts curators and records managers; conservationists and information managers; archivists from north and south of our borders—all are welcome in our archival common market.Cook 1983, 375Three events in the mid-1930s gave birth to the archival profession in the United States: the establishment of the National Archives in 1934; the funding of surveys by the Works Progress Administration of federal, state, and local records in 1935–37; and the organization of the Society of American Archivists in 1935–37. With the National Archives finally a reality, the Public Archives Commission of the American Historical Association (AHA) came to an end. A number of archivists saw that another type of organization was needed to further the interests of the profession and to cope with both the mass of historical records located by the surveys and the flood of current records being generated by governments expanded to ease the economic crisis of the era.Jimerson 2009, 107With the founding of the National Archives in 1934, archivists finally had a flagship institutional base and the necessary sense of identity to create their own professional association. At the AHA convention of 1936, ninety-six men and twenty-nine women from twenty-three states, plus Canada and Cuba, met to form the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The new association adopted a constitution, which declared: “The objects of the Society of American Archivists shall be to promote sound principles of archival economy and to facilitate cooperation among archivists and archival agencies.”Bell 2015, 15I wish that the members of the Society of American Archivists would understand that membership in a professional association with professional staff has substantial costs. To have an organization with a strong publishing program, a vibrant education program, a strong and intense support system for its members, and a spectacular conference requires a full-time staff, offices, and technology.Linn 2015, 99Archivists have long been interested in establishing standards for the profession. It was even one of the Society of American Archivists’ three founding objectives as Albert Newsome stated in his presidential address at SAA’s first annual meeting in 1936 [actually 1937].SAA 2018cFounded in 1936, the Society of American Archivists is North America’s oldest and largest national professional association dedicated to the needs and interests of archives and archivists. SAA represents more than 6,200 professional archivists employed by governments, universities, businesses, libraries, and historical organizations nationally.SAA 2020bThe Society of American Archivists is a membership organization comprising individuals and organizations dedicated to the selection, care, preservation, access to, and administration of historical and documentary records of enduring value for the benefit of current and future generations.SAA 2021, art. 1, § 2The Society of American Archivists is a professional organization established to provide a means for effective cooperation among persons concerned with the documentation of human experience; to stimulate and to publish the results of research in archival administration and records management; to promote the adoption of sound principles and standards by all public and private agencies responsible for the preservation and administration of records; to foster a better public understanding of the nature and value of archival operations and holdings; to develop professional standards, particularly for the training of archivists, records managers, and custodians of private papers, and to improve the facilities and increase the opportunities for such training; to maintain and strengthen relations with historians, librarians, educators, public administrators, and others in allied disciplines; and to cooperate with other professional organizations, cultural and educational institutions, and international organizations having mutual interests in the preservation and use of recorded heritage.
The Society of American Archivists (SAA), established in 1936, is the oldest and largest national professional association for archivists and allied professionals in North America. The society publishes the journal American Archivist as well as maintains standards, guidelines, and best practices for the profession.