Comments Sought on Proposed Revision to SAA Code of Ethics
Charged by the SAA Council to propose revisions to the Society's Code of Ethics,
the Committee on Ethics and Professional Conduct is soliciting comments on
the draft presented below.
The code was last revised in
1992. On advice of legal counsel, this draft revision eliminates commentary
on each principle, as well as guidelines and procedures for interpretation
of the code and mediation of disputes. In addition, to simplify and clarify
the new code, the committee has removed the portions of the 1992 code that
addressed matters of individual professional conduct or institutional best
practice, rather than ethical principles per se. The proposed code is intended
to be aspirational.
The proposed revision is open for member comment, and will be discussed at
an open forum at SAA's 68th Annual Meeting on Wednesday, August 4, from 4:00
to 5:30 p.m., in the Georgian Room at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. To share your opinions and ideas via email, send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Draft Revision to SAA Code of Ethics
A code of ethics for archivists should establish high standards for archival
practice. It should introduce new members of the profession to those standards,
remind experienced archivists of their professional responsibilities, and
serve as a model for institutional policies. A code of ethics should also
inspire public confidence in the profession.
This code is intended to provide an ethical framework to guide members of
the profession, and not to provide specific solutions to particular problems.
The term "archivist" as used in this code encompasses all those
concerned with the selection, control, care, custody, preservation, and administration
of historical and documentary records of enduring value.
The Society of American Archivists recognizes the importance of educating
the profession and general public about archival ethics by codifying ethical
principles guiding the work of archivists. This code provides a set of principles
to which archivists aspire.
II. Professional Relationships
Archivists select, preserve, and make available historical and documentary
records of enduring value. Archivists cooperate, collaborate, and respect
each institution and its mission and collecting policy. Respect and cooperation
form the basis of all professional relationships with colleagues and users.
Archivists should exercise professional judgment in acquiring, appraising,
and processing historical materials. They should not allow personal beliefs
or perspectives to affect their decisions.
Archivists should not profit or otherwise benefit from their privileged
access to and control of historical records and documentary materials.
V. Authenticity and Integrity
Archivists strive to preserve and protect the authenticity of records in
their holdings by documenting their creation and custodial history and preserving
the intellectual and physical integrity of those records. Archivists may
not alter, manipulate, or destroy data or records to conceal facts or distort
Archivists strive to promote open and equitable access to their services
and the records in their care without discrimination or preferential treatment,
in accordance with cultural sensitivities, institutional policies and legal
Archivists respect the privacy of donors, users, and individuals and groups
who are the subjects of records or who had no voice in their creation or
donation. Archivists should respect the confidentiality of information in
the records in their custody and recognize all legal, social, cultural, spiritual,
and indigenous restrictions to access.
Archivists protect documentary materials in their custody, guarding them
against defacement, physical damage, deterioration, and theft. Archivists
should cooperate with colleagues and law enforcement agencies to apprehend
and prosecute thieves and vandals.
Archivists become familiar with and uphold all federal, state, and local
laws and statutory requirements pertaining to custody of archival records
and archival practice.