Call for Volunteers: SAA Tragedy Response Initiative Task Force

November 16, 2017—The SAA Council has approved creation of a Tragedy Response Initiative Task Force to 1) create and/or compile material for ready accessibility by archivists who are facing a sudden tragedy and 2) explore the feasibility of creating a standing body within SAA that would update documentation as needed and serve as a volunteer tragedy response team.

The Diverse Sexuality and Gender Section’s proposal for this task force grew out of discussion following the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, when local archivists were forced to make quick archival decisions while also struggling with their own grief. Many other section members chimed in with similar stories from various tragedies over the years. As the section leaders noted in the proposal:

“When a tragic event occurs—such as hate crimes, police violence, acts of terrorism, and campus or community shootings—it falls to the local and/or regional archivist to support the historical record and human experience by documenting and creating memorial collections and accepting or collecting material about the victims and sometimes the instigator(s) of the violence. Because of proximity, archivists often are participating members of the communities for which they are also professionally responsible for documenting. In these situations the archivist is essentially alone and forced to make collecting decisions based on community input rather than collecting scope, often without the guidance of formulated best practices and policies, while also in the grip of their own grieving process.”

The task force will comprise 8 members (including a chair), with the term beginning in January 2018 and a final report and recommendations submitted to the Council by January 2020. Read the full charge of the task force and, if you are interested in serving, please complete the Task Force Volunteer form. Deadline to volunteer: Wednesday, December 6. 

Email any questions to