Museum Archives Section

Welcome to the Society of American Archivists Museum Archives Section website. The over 1300 individual members of the Museum Archives Section represent museums as diverse as large repositories such as the Smithsonian Institution and the J. Paul Getty Trust and smaller institutions such as the Shelburne Museum and Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. As museum archivists, we are responsible for the organization and care of archival materials held and/or created by our institutions. Museum archives contain typical archival material such as manuscripts, photography, large scale drawings and maps, film, audio tape, and digital files.

Museum Archivist Newsletter

Catch up on the most recent updates and start thinking about possible contributions to our next newsletter!

Museum Archivist: Newsletter of the Museum Archives Section, Winter 2019 (Vol.29 no.1) Click on link for PDF.

2018 Elections

It is time, once again, for the election of Steering Committee members.  In addition to this election, there will be a proposal on the 2018 Museum Archives Section (electronic) ballot to change a part of the Museum Archives Section’s “Standing Rules.” The Standing Rules are like the Society for American Archivists bylaws, but concern only the conduct of the Museum Archives Section. The proposed change concerns the length of terms for some members of the Steering Committee and is intended to improve continuity. Currently, the offices of Recording Secretary, Newsletter Editor and Web Liaison are elected for one year—the election being held each year prior to the SAA Annual Meeting. The office of Vice Chair/Chair-elect is also held each year, but the term lasts two years as the Chair-elect automatically takes over as the section Chair the following year, so the proposed change would not affect the annual election of the Vice Chair/Chair-elect. The Newsletter Editor will be elected in odd years and the Recording Secretary and Web Liaison will be elected in even years. A more precise explanation of how the proposed rule change phases is found in the next paragraph.   The changes to Article 4, Section C, Paragraph 2 are shown below with the deletions lined out and additions underlined.


This proposed change must be voted on by Museum Archives Section members using SAA’s annual online ballot, along with the annual elections of Steering Committee officers. The new system (if approved) would not phase in until the 2019 elections. This year (2018), all officers would still be elected to one-year terms (other than the Chair-elect). In 2019, the election would be held for Chair-elect and Newsletter Editor (two-year term) and Recording Secretary and Web Liaison for one-year terms. The following year (2020), elections would be held for Chair-elect, Recording Secretary, and Web Liaison (two-year terms). While the initial two years might seem a little confusing, after the 2020 elections, the Steering Committee will always consist of two veteran members and two new members. This will help ensure continuity and that there isn’t a major knowledge drain in any single year. This will also allow Steering Committee members more time to use the skills that they developed in their first year.


Ballot Question:

Shall the standing rules of the Museum Archives Section be revised by making the following changes to the terms of office.


2. All officers shall serve a term of one two years. The Chair-elect shall serve a term of one year, and then shall succeed the Chair, for a total of a two-year term. Elections for the Chair-elect shall take place every year.  Election for Newsletter Editor shall take place in odd years and elections for Recording Secretary and Web Liaison shall take place in even years.


2018 Elections

Museum Archives Standards and Best Practices Working Group

2018 Annual Symposium

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 9:00 am-12:00 pm

Marriott Wardman Park, Washington D.C.


In most museums, the archives isn’t the only department stewarding records of archival or permanent value. Other departments, such as curatorial, conservation, and registration, also manage such records and are in charge of all aspects of their care, from preservation to access. Though they exist beyond their holdings, museum archivists are uniquely positioned to collaborate with colleagues on the management of these important records. How they may undertake this, if at all, varies widely from institution to institution. The Museum Archives Section’s Standards and Best Practices Working Group Annual Symposium will explore the museum archivist’s role in the care and stewardship of records held outside of the archives to begin to reach a consensus on best practices.



Please join us! No registration separate from SAA conference registration is required.
Please click here for the full schedule.

Questions? Please email Working Group co-chairs and

Recent News & Announcements

Please review candidate statements for the 2019 Museum Archives Section election. You will be voting for one Chair-elect/Chair and one Newsletter Editor.
The Museum Archivist is seeking contributions for the upcoming Summer issue coming out in July, before the annual meeting. Our last issue was filled with lots of great stories, unveilings, essays, updates, and news. Whether you have in the past or for the first time, please consider submitting to the upcoming newsletter. And don’t forget to include images. The deadline for submissions is Monday, June 30.
A half-day symposium on museum archives “work in progress”
All information relevant to the 2014 Business Meeting can be found here:
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