Distinguished Service Award

Purpose and Criteria for Selection:

Created in 1964 and revised in 1993, this award recognizes an archival institution, education program, nonprofit organization, or government organization that has provided outstanding service to its public and has made an exemplary contribution to the archives profession. The institution being nominated should have achieved distinction in one or more of the following ways:

  • Demonstrably contributing to archival theory and the development of new archival practice.
  • Serving its constituency in an outstanding fashion.
  • Showing extraordinary ingenuity and resourcefulness in improving efficiency of operations or methods of work.
  • Going well beyond the normal performance requirements expected of an archival agency and thus providing a model for others.
  • Developing over a period of years an archives program of such depth and scope as to warrant special recognition.


Any archival institution, archival organization, records center, or manuscript repository, archival education program, or nonprofit or government organization providing service or support to the archives community in North America.

Nomination Requirements:

In addition to a completed nomination form, each nomination must include letters of support from three SAA members, each representing a different institution. Self-nominations are accepted and encouraged.

Sponsor and Funding:

The Society of American Archivists Foundation through the generosity of three SAA Fellows:
Leon de Valinger, Jr., Mary Givens Bryan, and Delores Renze.


A plaque.

First Awarded:


Selection Committee:

The Distinguished Service Award Subcommittee of the SAA Awards Committee is composed of three members of the Society of American Archivists and one of the co-chairs of the Awards Committee (ex officio). One member of the subcommittee shall be appointed each year by the SAA President-elect to serve a three-year term. The senior member of the subcommittee in years of service shall serve as its chair and shall present the award during the Awards Ceremony at the SAA Annual Meeting.

Submission Deadline and Nomination Form:

All nominations shall be submitted to SAA by February 28 of each year.  CLICK HERE to download the nomination form.



Distinguished Service Award Recipients:

1964:   North Carolina Department of Archives and History

1965:   Maryland Hall of Records

1966:   Wisconsin State Historical Society, Department of Archives and Manuscripts

1967:   Not awarded

1968:   Not awarded

1969:   Colorado Division of State Archives and Public Records

1970:   Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

1972:   Oregon State Archives

1975:   Ohio Historical Society

1976:   Wayne State University, Archives of Labor History and Urban Affairs

1977:   Georgia Department of Archives and History

1980:   Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts

1981:   City of Toronto Archives

1982:   Illinois State Archives

1983:   Not awarded

1984:   Public Archives of Canada

1985:   American Institute of Physics, Center for the History of Physics

1986:   Not awarded

1987:   New York State Archives

1988:   Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

1989:   Not awarded

1990:   The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for  
           Advanced Study, Harvard University

1991:   Billy Graham Center Archives, Wheaton College

1992:   Oberlin College Archives

1993:   Not awarded

1994:   The Research Libraries Group

1995:   Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives, The Johns Hopkins University

1996:   Not awarded

1997:   Not awarded

1998:   Masters of Archival Studies Program at the University of British Columbia

1999:   Not awarded

2000:   Not awarded

2001:   The Ohio Historical Society

2002:   Duke University

2003:   Not awarded

2004:   The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

2005:   Not awarded

2006:   The Modern Archives Institute, National Archives and Records Administration

2007:   Not awarded

2008:   Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut

2009:   National Historical Publications and Records Commission, National Archives and Records Administration

2010:   American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

2011:   Not awarded

2012:   Archival Education Collaborative

2013:   Black Metropolis Research Consortium

2014:   Not awarded

2015:   Archives Leadership Institute

2016:   Georgia Archives Institute 

2017:   No applicants