Terry Baxter, Candidate for Vice President/President-Elect

Professional Experience: Archivist, Multnomah County Archives, 1998–present. Archivist, Oregon Country Fair, 2015–present. Records Manager, Pacificorp, 1996–1997. Archivist, Oregon State Archives, 1986–1995.

Education: BS (History), Western Oregon University, 1986.

Professional Activities (selected): Society of American Archivists: Program Committee, 2006–2007, 2016–2017 (Chair); Diversity Committee, 2005–2011, 2008–2011 (Chair); Nominating Committee, 2009, 2013; Council, 2011–2014; Appointments Committee, 2014–2015 (Chair). Academy of Certified Archivists: Certified Archivist, 2004–present. Northwest Archivists: Program Committee, 2002, 2004; Planning Committee, 2009 Meeting; Publications Committee, 2010–2014; 40th Anniversary Committee, 2016–2017; Board Representative (Oregon), 2004–2006, 2007–2008 (President). Institute for Advanced Archival Administration: University of Pittsburgh, 1991–1995. Monmouth (OR) Historic Buildings and Sites Commission: 1994–2001, 1998–2001 (Chair). Monmouth (OR) Library Board: 2001–2005, 2004–2005 (Chair). Multnomah County Privacy Officer: 2003–2013. Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums: Conference Planning Committee, 2008–2009. Oregon Historical Society Library Advisory Council: 2011–present. Archives Leadership Institute: Steering Committee, 2013–present; Participant ALI X. Northwest History Network: Board, 2014–present.

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Questions posed by Nominating Committee: 


Question 1: According to SAA’s Mission Statement, “SAA promotes the value and diversity of archives and archivists.” As president, what would be your plan for fulfilling this mission? What concrete steps or strategies would you use to implement your vision for the organization?

Candidate's Response: 

First, I would approach this issue with an open heart, open ears, and a spirit of humility. Even though I have been working on diversity and inclusion issues in archives for over thirty years, the work has come from a very privileged position. While that does not invalidate my commitment or effort, it does continuously remind me to check my point of view and seek wisdom from many places.

That said, I believe that promoting, or perhaps more accurately, recognizing diversity, requires SAA to continue to challenge its assumptions and biases. One good example is SAA’s ambivalence towards the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials. In the ten years since this document was first offered to SAA for endorsement, SAA has consistently opposed it, fearing that an alternative archival epistemology has no place in the archival tent. I would revisit all of SAA’s core documents (mission, code of ethics, core values) with the intent of reframing them to include alternate visions of key archival functions.

I believe that SAA’s operational and philosophical focus needs to continue to evolve from diversity to inclusion. This means that SAA needs to focus on removing barriers to meaningful participation by all of its members in the society’s governance, actions, and annual meeting. SAA also needs to welcome affiliated professionals, para-professionals, non-professionals working with archives—basically any ally in the work of documenting humanity. A friend of mine who facilitated the Berea Archives Leadership Institute passed on this quote: “From the outside, every community looks like a club. From the inside, every club looks like a community.” These aren’t new ideas. We just need to make them as important a priority as access or description or advocacy.

Question 2: One of SAA’s Core Values is its commitment to “social responsibility and the public good.” Using this as a framework, please expand on how, under your leadership, SAA will engage in public discourse about events and issues pertinent to the archives profession.

Candidate's Response:

I would not limit SAA’s commitment to social responsibility and the public good to either “discourse” or “events and issues pertinent to the archives profession.” SAA should be prepared to take action whenever it can. Nearly all events and issues have a records or archives component. SAA should identify issues and events it believes are important to advancing human justice, freedom and liberation. It should then work with other communities to use archives and records to support positive change. It is our responsibility as humans to work toward a better world. Archives and records are just the tools we’re using to do that.

SAA is positioned to take a leadership role. Many archivists are situated in community and institutional settings that limit their ability to take overt action. Individual archivists have to consult their own consciences when determining how much risk they are willing to take to promote change. SAA is not under the same constraints. It can embrace an activist role and act boldly with much less chance of reprisal. While some archivists will make the case for objectivity or neutrality, I would respectfully reject that position. Archivists need to be seen as champions of freedom, liberation and justice. The future of the archival endeavor will increasingly reside in the relationships among archivists and communities. If we do not connect, heart to heart, with the communities we serve, we will become an increasingly irrelevant profession.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” We cannot shy away from the fact that the archival endeavor is based in love. Not just love for our fellow humans, although that is key to our evolution, but love of a just and truthful world. 


Slate of Candidates

The Nominating Committee has slated the following SAA members as candidates for office in the 2017 election:

Vice President/President-Elect

Council (Three-year term)

Nominating Committee