Archivists Are Up For Any Challenge!

A Letter from SAA Foundation President Margery Sly and SAA President Rachel Vagts 

Dear Friend:

Archivists are up for any challenge!  This year we’ve pivoted to working from home, documenting a pandemic, diversifying our collection content and our profession, holding virtual conferences, and navigating a serious economic downturn.

Through your past generosity to the SAA Foundation’s Strategic Growth Fund and other initiatives, you’ve helped the profession meet those challenges as well.  In this season of giving, we’re asking you to recommit to supporting our work together.

The Foundation used Strategic Growth funds to provide $21,000 in seed money to start the Archival Workers Emergency Fund, which provides grants of $1,000 to assist archivists experiencing acute, unanticipated financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since April 15, our donors have given an additional $80,000—and helped more than 160 of our colleagues through an especially difficult time.  As one AWEF recipient noted:

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for your generosity. Last month I lost my job due to budget cuts from the COVID-19 pandemic....I graduate in August and while entering into this field during a recession is a scary and difficult time, I am hopeful for the future and am encouraged by the incredible community of archivists that makes up SAA. This gift has made such a difference for me and I would like to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for the incredible work you are doing.

SAA’s re-envisioned, innovative virtual annual meeting meant that the Travel Grants, also funded from your donations to the Strategic Growth Fund, had to be reframed.  The funds were re-purposed to support reduced and free meeting registrations for students and those who were unemployed or precariously employed due to COVID-19.  Anne Cox of Columbia, Missouri, one of 81 recipients, shared her gratitude:

The value of my complimentary registration to ARCHIVES*RECORDS 2020 is immense.... I was laid off from my job in mid-July and the conference was an excellent opportunity to engage with the field in the early stages of my job search…. I took full advantage of the career center and participated in both a mock interview and a general career coaching appointment. The feedback I received was immediately useful. I am deeply appreciative of the SAA Foundation’s choice to support conference attendance through the Travel Award, especially in this tumultuous year. Please accept my gratitude.

The Strategic Growth Fund also enables the Foundation to continue to support the work of our colleagues by funding research and project grants. The past year saw the awarding of five additional grants, bringing our total to $84,255 in awards for 21 grants since the program was established in FY 2015. Tempestt Hazel of Sixty Inches from Center had this to say about the difference a Foundation grant made for her organization:

All of us at Sixty Inches From Center are incredibly grateful for the grant we received from the SAA Foundation because it has helped us ground and evolve our work with archives and has opened up countless new paths for connecting our cultural communities directly with the archives community. I can't speak about the funding support without also acknowledging how the grant combined with the other forms of support and recognition we've recently received from the SAA has and will help shape the future of Sixty's work with archives through the relationships it has and continues to unlock. We are humbled by the way we have been received by the archivist community because of SAAF and SAA—and we look forward to the opportunities that these new relationships will bring. 

And the Foundation continues its commitment to supporting SAA’s goal of ensuring the diversity of its membership and leaders, the profession, and the archival record. Your generous gifts to the Mosaic Scholarship Fund provide financial and mentoring support to students of color pursuing graduate education in archival science. Eighteen individuals have benefitted from a Mosaic Scholarship since the program began in 2009—and here’s what 2018 recipient Alexis Recto (Skirball Cultural Center and Museum, Los Angeles) has to say about her experience:

Applying to the Mosaic Scholarship really encouraged me to consider the ways in which I can amplify my heritage as a first-generation Filipino-American and empower my community through archives. Thanks to the significant monetary support provided by this scholarship, I was able to hone in on my research on and practice with community-based archives without the looming worry of rising student debt. I now continue to engage with community-based archives and focus my endeavors on how communities are seen and understood through their archives.

Are you up to the challenge of supporting the profession and archivists in 2021?  As we look to a future committed to a strong, active, and agile profession, we also look to you for support at any amount that is comfortable for you. Thank you!

Wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy new year,

Margery Sly, SAA Foundation President, 2020-2021

Rachel Vagts, SAA President, 2020-2021 

P.S. Donations to the SAA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, are tax-deductible. See for more information about the Foundation—and to donate!

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