Distinguished Service Award: Society of Southwest Archivists


The Society of Southwest Archivists is a 2018 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award recognizes an archives institution, education program, nonprofit organization, or government organization that has given outstanding service to its public and has made an exemplary contribution to the archives profession.  

Following the devastation of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005, members of the Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA) took action immediately by creating dedicated social media channels to help facilitate communication among the region’s archivists that had been physically dispersed. Ten days after Katrina made landfall, SSA and SAA agreed to establish the SSA/SAA Emergency Disaster Assistance grant fund to aid archives affected by the hurricanes—within four days, they had raised ten thousand dollars. By October, SSA had raised nearly ten thousand additional dollars, which enabled it to make the first three grant awards to New Orleans archives affected by Katrina. When Hurricane Rita arrived in Texas in September, the scope of the grant expanded to include that event, and today continues to furnish essential preservation support to archives throughout the United States and its territories.  

SSA has demonstrated visionary, compassionate, and collaborative work establishing the SSA/SAA Emergency Disaster Assistance Grant fund in 2005 to meet the needs of archives affected by natural disasters, deftly managed this fund with SAA until 2009, and has provided an influential model for other disaster recovery funds that have been established by other regional archives organizations across the country.