Concerns Over the Sudden Dismissal of the Massachusetts State Archivist (June 1995)

A Position Statement Adopted by SAA Council, June 1995

June 13, 1995
The Honorable William M. Bulger
President of the Senate
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
State House, Room 332
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Senator Bulger:

I write as President of the Society of American Archivists, the national professional association for archivists in the United States. SAA has more than 3,300 members, including a large number who live and work in Massachusetts. My purpose is to express our concern over the sudden dismissal of the Massachusetts State Archivist and its implication for the future of the state archives program. Our concerns are similar to those expressed to you by the New England Archivists and by others.

We share with you a belief in the importance of archival records both for our cultural heritage and as the cornerstone of accountability in government. Because of this, the archival profession believes that those who head state programs must have professional credentials that will equip them to make informed decisions regarding disposition and access to archival records and to provide leadership in their communities. We also believe that archivists must be insulated from partisan political pressures that may inhibit their ability to make wise and independent decisions.

We hope that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will move expeditiously with the search for a permanent replacement for the commonwealth archivist, and that the process will include a search or screening process representing the interests of constituencies that use the archives. We also hope that the appointment will be made without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of professional qualifications required to perform the responsibilities of the office.

In identifying and selecting the next archivist of the commonwealth, we urge you to give preference to candidates with the following traits:

  • Successful experience in administering archival or records programs or similar programs with responsibilities for cultural or informational resources; ability to expand and change program directions to meet changing needs and conditions; b, demonstrated commitment to the management, preservation, access, and use of records.
  • Demonstrated vision for the future of government archives and information management programs, including development and implementation of information policies and plans for the management of electronic records.
  • Commitment to working effectively with offices of government and with other archival programs in Massachusetts to effectively address shared responsibilities and concerns.
  • Experience working effectively with legislators, government officials, trustees, and resource allocators in ways that ensure adequate support for programs, even in time of financial stringency.
  • Experience seeking the advice and counsel of constituent and user groups, including professional associations, as well as experience responding to constituent needs.
  • Proven ability to articulate a compelling defense of information resources and of the importance of b programs for their care and management to public officials, the general public, resource allocators, and users.
  • A reputation for excellence and leadership, and sufficient stature for the archivist to be seen and accepted as a leader by a wide range of constituent groups.

I hope that these above criteria will be useful to you as you seek a new archivist for the commonwealth. Please feel free to call on the Society of American Archivists if we can be of any further assistance to you in this process.


Maygene F. Daniels
President, Society of American Archivists
Archival Issues Raised by Information Stored in Electronic Form