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ARCHIVES 2008: Archival R/Evolution & Identities

72nd Annual Meeting
Pre-conference Programs: August 24–27, 2008
Conference Dates: August 27–31, 2008
2008 Exposition Dates: August 28–29, 2008
Hilton San Francisco

Call for Program Proposals


If there is a single American locale that evokes creative soul searching, it’s San Francisco. From revolutionary counterculture movements to ever-evolving political and demographic identities, it’s a city that inspires questions of who we are, where we are, and where we’re going….

The archives profession meets in San Francisco in 2008 at a pivotal moment in its own development. Each of SAA’s three key strategic priority areas—technology, diversity, and public awareness—addresses uncertainty about our status and our future as a profession. What is technology’s true impact on our work, and are we fully embracing its opportunities? How can the archives profession and the record of society more accurately mirror the changing makeup of America? Where are the solutions for ensuring greater public appreciation and stakeholder support for the archival mission? Underlying all is an even deeper question about the core identity of the profession: Have we defined the fundamental boundaries of our profession? Are we “there” yet?

San Francisco’s location on the Pacific Rim also urges us to consider the international aspects of these questions of definition and direction. Are our colleagues in other Pacific nations facing similar r/evolutionary moments or uncertainties? What does our emerging (yet under-developed) international consciousness and participation have to say about our professional identity?

As we look forward to SAA’s 72nd Annual Meeting, the Program Committee asks whether the archives profession is at a transformative (revolutionary) crossroad or a more natural (evolutionary) state of maturation. Also, is our “identity” better understood as “identities”? Where are our differences, what are our commonalities, can we understand and accept our colleagues, and how do we prosper as one profession? These considerations factor into all aspects of archival activity, and the Program Committee especially encourages proposals that recognize the connection of the proposed topic to this broader context of “who we are, where we are, and where we’re going.”

The 2008 Program Committee invites submissions for session proposals for ARCHIVES 2008: Archival R/Evolution & Identities, the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists in San Francisco, August 26—30, 2008. We invite you to participate in development of the meeting by 1) proposing sessions that will be of interest and value to the profession or 2) volunteering to share your own knowledge and expertise as a presenter.

NEW for 2008

Preparing for the Annual Meeting program is similar to the publishing process for a professional journal. Sessions are proposed, peer reviewed, and selected using certain criteria, sometimes revised to provide the best product, and compiled as a program that should address a theme and topics of concern to diverse perspectives and constituencies and to archivists at all levels of experience. An important goal for this meeting is to assist you in presenting a successful proposal to the Program Committee.

At first glance, the 2008 Program Proposal Submission Form will appear familiar. We encourage you to read it completely before formulating your proposal. We are asking for more information and we are giving more guidelines for your responses, so that the Program Committee can better understand your plans. To make a more effective case for acceptance, you should emphasize why you are proposing the session, the speakers’ experience, what the audience will know or be able to do after participating in the session, and how the speakers will engage the audience in learning. Please note that we are asking for the 75-word abstract as part of the proposal. This should help you in presenting a coherent description, reduce the number of editing rounds for accepted proposals, and speed submission for final program publication. Proposals must be complete, including all information related to speakers.

Special consideration will be given to proposals that incorporate:

  • Elements of the Annual Meeting theme.
  • A focus on SAA’s top three strategic priorities: technology, diversity, and public awareness.
  • Section or Roundtable endorsements. (Each SAA section and roundtable may endorse up to two proposals. Please note that an endorsement does not guarantee acceptance.)
  • Content targeted to “new” archivists as well as to more experienced veterans of the profession.

Proposals that address other aspects of contemporary archival theory and practice also are welcome. Suggestions and tips for preparing a successful proposal are available on the SAA website at:

The 2008 Program Committee encourages submission of proposals in the following formats:

  • Traditional. Open session (ie, unlimited attendance) of 90 minutes, consisting of two or three fully prepared papers of 15 minutes each and a comment-and-discussion period. Please do not propose sessions of more than three presenters. Paper titles are required. A chair is not required for this format; chair duties may be performed by one of the speakers, who must also be designated as the key contact for the session.
  • Work in Progress. Open session of 90 minutes, consisting of two presentations of 15 minutes each, describing ongoing research topics and including at least 60 minutes for feedback and discussion. Paper titles are required.
  • Panel Discussion. Open session of 90 minutes, consisting of a panel of three to five individuals who informally discuss a variety of theories or perspectives on the given topic. No paper titles are required. A moderator or commentator is recommended.
  • Workshop. Limited-enrollment session of 2 hours, usually designed to teach or refine skills. No paper titles are required.
  • Seminar/Roundtable. Limited-enrollment session of 2 hours, usually designed as a directed discussion among attendees sharing a common experience or preparation.
  • Special Focus Session. Open session of 60 minutes designed to highlight innovative archives or records management programs, new techniques, and research projects. Audience participation is significant. No paper titles are required.
  • Poster Presentation. Report in which information is summarized using brief written statements and graphic materials, such as photographs, charts, graphs, and/or diagrams mounted on a poster board. Posters will be on display during the meeting, and presenters will be assigned a specific date and time at which they must be at their poster to discuss it with participants.

An important reminder: Archivists and records managers who participate in the program must register and secure institutional or personal funding. Participants who are not archivists or records managers, or who are from outside the United States and Canada, are eligible for complimentary registration upon request. SAA cannot provide funding for speakers, whether they are international, non-archivists, non-records managers, members, or nonmembers.

For additional information, contact the 2008 Program Committee co-chairs:

Sheryl B. Vogt                                                                   
University of Georgia                                                         
sbvogt [at]                                                                 

Joel F. Wurl
National Endowment for the Humanities
jwurl [at]

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