Distinguished Service Award

Purpose and Criteria for Selection:

The Distinguished Service 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; and/or
  • 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:

Created in 1964 through the generosity of three SAA Fellows—Leon de Valinger Jr., Mary Givens Bryan, and Delores Renze—the award was revised in 1993 and is funded through the Society of American Archivists Foundation.


A plaque.

Selection Committee:

The Distinguished Service Award Subcommittee of the SAA Awards Committee is composed of three members of SAA 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 Vice President to serve a three-year term. The senior member of the subcommittee in years of service shall serve as its chair.

Submission Deadline and Nomination Form:

Click here to preview the nomination form and/or to start a nomination. All nominations must be submitted by February 28 of each year. 


Distinguished Service Award Recipients:

2023:   BitCurator Consortium

2022:   ChromaDiverse, Inc.

2021:   Knox County Archives and Doris Rivers Martinson

2020:   Orange County Regional History Center

2019:   New England Archivists Mentoring Program

2018:   Council of State Archivists AND Society of Southwest Archivists

2017:   No applicants

2016:   Georgia Archives Institute

2015:   Archives Leadership Institute

2014:   Not awarded

2013:   Black Metropolis Research Consortium

2012:   Archival Education Collaborative

2011:   Not awarded

2010:   American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

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

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

2007:   Not awarded

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

2005:   Not awarded

2004:   The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

2003:   Not awarded

2002:   Duke University

2001:   The Ohio Historical Society

2000:   Not awarded

1999:   Not awarded

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

1997:   Not awarded

1996:   Not awarded

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

1994:   The Research Libraries Group

1993:   Not awarded

1992:   Oberlin College Archives

1991:   Billy Graham Center Archives, Wheaton College

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

1989:   Not awarded

1988:   Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

1987:   New York State Archives

1986:   Not awarded

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

1984:   Public Archives of Canada

1983:   Not awarded

1982:   Illinois State Archives

1981:   City of Toronto Archives

1980:   Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts

1977:   Georgia Department of Archives and History

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

1975:   Ohio Historical Society

1972:   Oregon State Archives

1970:   Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

1969:   Colorado Division of State Archives and Public Records

1968:   Not awarded

1967:   Not awarded

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

1965:   Maryland Hall of Records

1964:   North Carolina Department of Archives and History