Call for Program Proposals: 2021 Annual Meeting

Call for Program Proposals
ARCHIVES * RECORDS 2021: Together/Apart
85th Annual Meeting of the
Society of American Archivists
July 31 – August 7, 2021

Note: Although the SAA Council is hopeful that some aspects of SAA’s Annual Meeting may be conducted in person at the Hilton Anaheim, the Program Committee is issuing this call for proposals for sessions to be presented virtually during the conference dates. The majority of sessions will be pre-recorded. More information will be forthcoming as we explore options and as the public health crisis evolves.


The events of the past year have required us to reevaluate the work that we do as archivists, the ways in which we carry out that work, and how we promote the value of our work—both together and apart. As we move forward during this time, it is imperative that questioning ourselves, challenging the status quo, and working toward a more inclusive and just world become part of our collective professional identity rather than the responsibility of a few.

The SAA Program Committee invites proposals for sessions to be presented at the 2021 Annual Meeting. As you develop your session proposal, we encourage you to consider the following questions:  How might we, as archivists, rethink our work environments, our practices, and our profession to strengthen the ways in which we work and stay in community?  How can we foster a professional culture that is innovative and that continually reevaluates itself?  Where can we do better?  How do we initiate, and advocate for, positive change in our institutions and communities? How can we come together more effectively as an archival community to support our shared values?

In response to our times, it seems more important than ever to make room for the following conference themes. Please note that proposals do not have to fit into these themes to be considered.

  • Reimagining and Redefining the Workplace
  • Person-Centered Management and Leadership Practices
  • Re-envisioning Archival Practices
  • Building Community and Sustaining Relationships
  • Conscious Editing and Reparative Work
  • Emerging Trends and Outreach Initiatives

One of SAA’s core values is “Ensuring the diversity of its membership and leaders, the profession, and the archival record.” We expect program sessions to reflect this commitment to a diverse and inclusive program and profession. As each session is composed of individuals and/or organizations with varied personal and professional experiences, perspectives, and identities, please indicate—in a summative way—how your proposal reflects individual, institutional, or geographic diversity or supports the development, inclusion, and stewardship of a diverse profession or cultural record. This could include positionality statements that reflect on the unique identities of the panelists in relation to the work they will discuss, a recognition of dominant positionality inherent in your identity or organization, or the ways in which privilege and power manifests in the session and how you will use or respond to it. Situating your proposal in the larger context of the profession and community helps the Program Committee evaluate a wide variety of proposals, and ultimately contributes to a more balanced program.

Within the framework of a virtual conference, the Program Committee invites proposals for sessions presented in any of the following formats:

Alternative Formats. Don’t feel confined by the prescribed formats—suggest an alternative or create your own! Alternative format sessions may take a variety of forms, such as performances, round tables, games, or fishbowl discussions. Sessions may be live or pre-recorded and may be submitted by individuals or groups. Proposals in this category should convey key principles and learning objectives or be an aesthetic or artistic production incorporating archives and special collections. When submitting your proposal, specify the format and, if applicable, the run time.

Facilitated Discussion.  60-minute session designed to highlight innovative archives or records management programs, new techniques, research projects, or theories or perspectives on a given topic. A moderator or facilitator is required.  

Lightning Talks. 60-minute session featuring multiple brief (i.e., 5-minute), lively, and informative talks. The session chair secures commitments from speakers and compiles all presentation slides to ensure timely speaker transitions. Proposals in this category may suggest recommended presenters; commitments must be secured soon after the proposal is accepted.

Mini-Workshop. Consists of two to four workshop leaders who share knowledge and expertise about a particular archival topic, practice, program, technology, technique, lesson plan, or software in a 60- to 90-minute session that may be followed by smaller breakout sessions to “try things out.”  

Panel Discussion. 60-minute session consisting of a panel of three to five individuals discussing theories or perspectives on a given topic. The goal of a panel discussion is to have a more informal session with time for audience feedback. Presentation titles are encouraged to assist the attendee in understanding the flow of the session; prepared papers are not required. A moderator is required; a commentator is optional.

Virtual Poster Presentation. Report in which information is summarized using brief written statements and graphic materials, such as photographs, charts, graphs, and/or diagrams. Posters will be submitted in pdf file format. Presenters will be assigned a specific time at which they must be available to discuss their poster with attendees.

Your format choice will not affect the Program Committee’s decision. The Committee may, however, recommend that the proposed format be changed if it believes that a different format may better serve the session’s learning objectives or desired audience.


Proposals for the 2021 Annual Meeting are due on Wednesday, January 13, at 11:59 pm CT. The Program Committee will not consider proposals received after the deadline.

Frequently Asked Questions: Submitting a Session Proposal


The 2021 Program Committee has created a Google spreadsheet to be used as an informal tool to connect individuals who are seeking ideas and/or collaboration on session proposals for the 2021 Annual Meeting. It is not monitored by SAA or the Program Committee and is not part of the official submission process.
Annual Meeting referenced: