SGA Members Set to Take Over ACA!

There are three (3) SGA members running for national positions with the Academy of Certified Archivists. If you are a member of ACA, please review their candidate statements and consider them as you vote.

Running for Vice President/President Elect:

Kaye Minchew
Troup County Historical Society and Archives

Question: “What is the primary benefit of ACA membership and why?”

Answer: “The primary value of ACA membership varies for different people and different groups.
For individuals, the primary benefit of ACA membership is being judged to have met a series of standards needed to become a professional archivist. One should rightly be proud to have mastered a core area of knowledge and gained work and professional experience to become certified. The fact that these standards to become a certified archivist have stood the test of time for more than twenty years, and have been strengthened and refined over time makes the value of ACA membership even stronger.

Employers looking to hire a new staff member benefit from ACA by having a professional standard to judge qualifications of prospective employees. ACA membership strengthens a candidate’s position when applying for jobs.

For the archival field as whole, the primary benefit of ACA membership is greater professionalism. A non-profit certifying board has identified basic areas of knowledge which practitioners have been judged to have learned plus ACA members participate at work and in professional organizations. The fact that members must be recertified every seven years encourages ACA members to stay active and involved in the profession.”

Running for Secretary:

Renna Tuten
Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, UGA

Question: “What is the primary benefit of ACA membership and why?”

Answer: “In my opinion, the primary benefit of ACA membership is being part of a body of professionals who voluntarily dedicate themselves to actively keeping abreast of advances in professional development while sustaining traditional and proven models of archival practice. Although there are many organizations devoted to serving those in the archives and records management profession, the Academy of Certified Archivists is the only one that requires recertification, which, in turn, yields a group of people who openly demonstrate this commitment.

The advantages that stem from such a high standard of membership include: advocacy among employers regarding a set standard of acceptable qualifications; a clear statement regarding the role of an archivist in the workplace; support of expanding graduate-level archival education, and the attraction of more and more members who are drawn to an organization centered around a defined knowledge base and not just paid dues.

Another set of benefits that can be gleaned from such a strong membership body is the continued commitment to create an exam that advocates a thorough course of study as it covers all areas of archival work, not just the most common ones. Because of the lack of true standardization in archival education, some areas of knowledge (say, legal issues and preservation) are often secondary to others like arrangement and description. In this same vein, the Academy’s openness to applicants from different educational backgrounds is an asset to the group by not advocating one correct path to certification.

All of these assets and benefits come together to make an organization that is greater than the sum of its parts. Its operating philosophy and ethics work together with its membership’s commitment to sustaining and pursuing archival knowledge work in concert to create an academy in the truest sense.”

Running for Regent for Certification Maintenance:

Christine de Catanzaro
Archives and Records Management, Georgia Tech

Question: “What is the primary benefit of ACA membership and why?”

Answer: “ACA membership is beneficial to all archival professionals, whether they are seasoned archivists or just starting out in the field. One primary benefit of membership in ACA is that certification provides a professional credential that is well understood by administrators and those in other professions as well as those who are practicing archivists. Job seekers know that certification is increasingly listed as at least a desirable qualification, if not a required one, for professional positions in the archival world. Employers understand that certification signifies the attainment of a certain level of knowledge and experience in the archival profession.

But I think the benefits of ACA membership go well beyond assisting job seekers. ACA offers us a community in which each of us can strive to promote and maintain high standards in the archival profession. Through my participation on the Exam Development Committee, and before that as a booth volunteer, lecturer, and exam item-writer, I have come to appreciate the importance of this work even more. I have seen the deep commitment to excellence from the ACA officers and from my colleagues on the EDC, and that has inspired me to commit myself to the high standards I see around me.

ACA also encourages all of us to maintain and refresh our skills through recertification. When we recertify, if we don’t choose to take the exam, we need to be sure that we have credits in employment, education, professional participation and outreach, professional service, and/or writing, publishing, and editing. If we choose to recertify through examination, we need to become current with the latest trends and developments in our profession through reading and study.

ACA membership creates an invaluable community of archivists committed to promoting and maintaining high professional standards. This, to me, is the greatest benefit of association with ACA.”

Spotlight on "Provenance"

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I learned many things at the Georgia Archives Institute in 2010, but one of the most important was the value of professional journals.  Our instructor, Tim Ericson, former Director of Archival Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Information Studies, was clear about the importance of keeping up with current issues in the profession, and off the top of his head, he could list the state and local organizations that produced their own journals.  First on the list, of course, was the Society of Georgia Archivists’ Provenance.  In 1972, Provenance became the first professional archival journal published by a state or regional organization.  It was founded and first edited by David B. Gracy II, and today has a circulation of over 300 internationally.  The current editor is Brian Wilson, Reference Archivist at the Georgia State Archives, and he was kind enough to explain what they are looking for in a submission.

According to the SGA website, “The journal’s primary focus concerns the archival profession in the theory and practice of archival management.” Recent issues have included:
  • archival education
  • electronic records
  • automation 
  • imaging
  • appraisal of university records
  • moving archives
  • management of audiovisual, photograph, oral history, and map materials
  • military archives
  • documentary editing
  • research use of archives
  • case studies in appraising congressional papers
  • ethics
  • descriptive standards
While this is a pretty extensive list of topics, Wilson explains that “Provenance … should balance practical, every day issues with more scholarly, academic articles” and notes that he would like to see more submissions that deal with how archivists work with researchers.  “I’d love to see more articles that deal with practical issues that archivists see and deal with everyday.  I’d like to see something written about reference work or about dealing with a customer base that is no longer coming into archives ‘physically.’” He continues that it doesn’t matter to him what level the author holds in the profession, be it student, professional or retiree since they all offer interesting views.  Students (or recent students), he explains, come at the profession with questions that many of us don’t think to ask, but older professionals tend to have more insight to practical applications to archival theory.  

When asked about his favorite submission, Wilson replies with a number of responses. First, he discusses an article on Amelia Earhart’s poems; then there’s his own coup of getting the new Archivist of the United States to write a short “acknowledgement” of SGA’s 40th anniversary last year; and finally, “I think the most important article that now gets published is the keynote address presented at the SGA annual meeting each year, as I think that reflects (for posterity) precisely where our interest as an organization is each year. It was the idea of Suzanne Durham (archivist at West Georgia) to print that and I think it was an excellent idea.”

While Provenance is the journal for the Society of Georgia Archivists, Wilson says he doesn’t feel the need to be strict about the geography.  “I’ve seen past issues deal with collections in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Louisiana.”  While he does try to keep submissions geared to the state, he doesn’t want to dissuade submissions involving archival records or ideas from another state.  He would also like to see Provenance published in alternate formats to reach a wider audience.  

The deadline for submissions to Provenance is the end of July to allow the editorial staff four or five months to edit the submissions, peer review, and deal with the publishing side of things.  Wilson adds that while he doesn’t want to dismiss outlines or ideas for articles, it is impractical and time consuming to work those into a full Provenance article.  

“The Provenance editorial board actively seeks articles, case studies, and review essays which increase understanding of archival issues, highlight new topics, or that broadens the scope of knowledge for people working with archival collections in the state of Georgia. Articles written for publication in Provenance should be original works and authors should keep in mind the following guidelines and rules of structure….”

For more information on Provenance and submitting an article, please see

*Contributed by Laura Starratt, Atlanta History Center.