Records Retention Policy for SAA and SAA Foundation

Introduction: The SAA Archives and SAA’s Records Retention Policy (RRP)

Section VII of the Constitution of the Society of American Archivists [1] states:

"The records of the Society, of the Council, and other units of the Society shall be preserved by the officers, Councilors, the Executive Director, and unit chairs, and shall be promptly turned over by them to their successors. Noncurrent records shall be appraised by direction of the Council upon recommendation of the Society's archivist, those records of continuing value shall be placed for preservation in the Society's official archives, and the Council shall determine a policy of access to these records."

In 2001, the Society of American Archivists (SAA) designated the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (UWM) as its official archival home, and named the head of its Archives Department as SAA Archivist. SAA’s archives dating from the Society’s founding in 1936 are described in an online finding aid [2] and open to researchers in the UWM Archives’ reading room. Recognizing that a significant portion of SAA’s current records are now shared via the Society’s website, in 2014 the UWM Archives, with Council’s approval, initiated a web crawling program, still in its early experimental phase, to capture, preserve and provide access to SAA current born-digital permanent records.

SAA’s RRP provides a framework for ensuring the preservation and accessibility of core documentation of the work of the Society’s members, leaders, and staff. It communicates to SAA leaders and members how their records of enduring value will be captured and maintained either by the UWM or by the SAA Office. 

General Policy Statement for Records Retention

Scope: The RRP contains records schedules that identify official SAA records of permanent value and provides direction for their retention and disposition either by the SAA Office or by the SAA Archives. It also identifies non-permanent records that can be kept as long as administratively useful or legally necessary and then destroyed. It applies to records in the existing SAA Archives as well as to current records, and to SAA staff, elected and appointed leaders, component groups, and members.

Retention Period: The RRP in most cases deliberately avoids suggesting specific retention periods for temporary records, as SAA records creators are in the best position to determine how long to keep materials before discarding them. For records scheduled for permanent retention, the SAA Office staff and SAA leaders should work out the best arrangements in collaboration with both the designated records liaison in the SAA Office and the SAA Archivist.

Disposition: The RRP avoids identifying the manner in which records identified for permanent retention will be transferred to the SAA archives. Most permanent records will be harvested by UWM during an annual crawl of the SAA website. In other cases, transfer may be accomplished by shipment of physical records or delivery of electronic records to a file-sharing site, the details of which will be worked out between the SAA Archives and the designated records liaison in the SAA Office.

Revisions, Additions, and Review: The Council delegates to the Executive Committee ongoing authority to review and approve retention and disposition schedules for SAA records on behalf of the Council. Changes to this RRP--discussed by the appropriate SAA leaders, the designated records liaison in the SAA Office, and the SAA Archivist--may be recommended to and approved by the Executive Committee at any time. If ten years have passed from the most recent RRP revision date, or if a determination is made that the general policy statement contained in this RRP requires revision, the Executive Committee will initiate a review of the RRP, to be undertaken, at minimum, by the SAA Archivist, the SAA Office’s designated records liaison, and representative members of the Council.

Roles and Responsibilities

SAA Archivist: Develops records schedules in consultation with the records creators including staff, officers, and component group leaders; works primarily with the SAA Office’s designated records liaison. The responsibilities and authority of the SAA Archivist are defined in the 2001 agreement between SAA and UWM and include appraisal, processing, preservation and outreach.

Designated Records Liaison: A member of the SAA staff who serves as the point person for managing the records of the SAA Office, communicating with the SAA Archivist, referring questions to the Archives, and facilitating transfer of records to the SAA Archives as indicated by the records schedule.

Society of American Archivists Records Schedules (download all schedules below)

  • Annual Meeting
  • Council-Appointed Component Groups and External Representatives 
  • Member-Affiliation Component Groups 
  • Council, Executive Committee, Elected Officers and Nominating Committee 
  • Education 
  • Executive Director 
  • Finance 
  • General SAA Office 
  • Member Services 
  • Publications and Communications 

Society of American Archivists Foundation Schedule (download all schedules below)

  • SAA Foundation General Records 




Adopted by the SAA Council: May 2014

SAARecords_PolicyAndSchedules_071614.pdf416.99 KB