In October 1963, Leon deValinger Jr. delivered his presidential address in Raleigh, NC, at the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists (SAA).  deValinger was the 18th SAA president, serving from 1962-1963.  His address was published in the January 1964 issue of the American Archivist.

Leon deValinger was the State Archivist of Delaware, having begun his career with the Delaware Public Archives Commission in 1930 and serving as State Archivist from 1941-1970.  He spent the first half of his address recounting the history of the development of the state archives in Delaware.  I found it interesting to discover that when the Division of Public Records was established in 1905, they were merely tasked with classifying, cataloging, and preserving state and county public records dated prior to 1800.  Six years later, the organization was recast as the Public Archives Commission and given an increased collecting mandate to 1850.  (The date of the legislation is not cited, but they were eventually given the right to acquire inactive records, implying the date parameters were lifted.)

deValinger then spent some time considering what the future held for archives.  His analysis included the following:

  • greater accumulation of records due to a larger population along with the machine production of records
  • impetus to incorporate automation into records management: “some adoptions of assembly-line methods of processing record groups, including automated finding media and accelerated processes for cleaning, fumigating, and repairing.  There will surely be the use of closed-circuit TV for supplying reference data more quickly” (10).
  • preference for underground records centers
  • efforts to limit the creation of records
  • less expensive publication methods, including microfilm and offset printing
  • greater attendance at museums and historic sites

As for SAA itself, deValinger acknowledged the growth of the organization and the American Archivist in particular.  But he questioned whether continued growth could occur with a voluntary leadership structure.  He presented four alternatives:

  1. “obtain funds to establish a paid secretariat with an executive director and staff to perform these administrative duties for us”
  2. “contain the membership and activities to proportions that can be handled on a voluntary basis”
  3. “decentralize into regional groups of manageable size with officers functioning on a voluntary basis”
  4. “seek a subsidy for the American Archivist and to develop with a university press a publication program that could become income-producing” (12).

He also made numerous other suggestions:

  • SAA needed to establish itself as an educational, tax-exempt organization
  • one-year term limit for president should be lifted
  • SAA should provide more technical services for its membership (e.g., testing new products and equipment)
  • SAA committees should publish guides and manuals
  • SAA should develop advanced training courses for archivists/records managers

In the end, deValinger explained the “horizons unlimited” of his title as his view of “the opportunities for service and satisfying employment in our field of endeavor” (13).

To follow up on deValinger’s suggestions, here’s what actually happened.

  • The first paid executive director for SAA was Ann Morgan Campbell, who assumed the post in 1974.
  • Although the first 8 SAA presidents served terms of 2 or more years, the rest have had 1-year terms.  This is specified in section V, A, 1 of the SAA constitution.
  • The SAA adopted the Guidelines for Archival Continuing Education in 2006 and offers numerous educational programs, including the Digital Archival Specialist curriculum and certificate program.
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