I have not been successful finding the presidential addresses of the next two presidents of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) — Andrea Hinding (1984-1985) and Shonnie Finnegan (1985-1986).  But rather than overlook them entirely, I’ll provide brief overviews of the greetings they presented at the annual meetings where they became president (the latter of which is, in fact, labeled as a presidential address in the American Archivist).

Andrea Hinding worked at the Walter Library at the University of Minnesota from 1985-2002 as the librarian for the Social Welfare History Archives and Kautz Family YMCA Archives.  Her remarks at the 1984 SAA annual meeting in Washington, D.C. were entitled “In a Slightly Different Voice, or Perspectives” and were published in the Winter 1985 issue of the American Archivist.  She identified several areas in which she believed archivists had lost perspective:

  1. Information revolution.  Hinding acknowledged the significance of the growing body of “machine-readable records,” but she asserted that even in the midst of change, there is continuity — “the record as artifact will persist, and as such it deserves some share of the Society’s attention and resources” (23).
  2. Identity.  In the ongoing discussion about who are archivists, Hinding proposed an interesting definition, suggesting people should think of archivists as “archaeologists in reverse: we bury things for other to dig up later” (23).  She went on to draw an interesting contrast between what archivists should expect from society at large and what needs to come from within.  She explained that while archivists need society at large for resources, they should look to each other for “dignity and recognition” (24).
  3. Planning.  Hinding confirmed the necessity of planning and suggested that  planning activities for SAA needed to have a palatable presentation and needed to take into consideration the variety of members.
  4. Humor.  Hinding acknowledged that some circumstances were grim for archivists but suggested these should be considered in light of the good works being accomplished.

 

Shonnie Finnegan served at the university archives at the State University of New York at Buffalo from 1967-1997.  With her accession to the presidency, SAA for the first time had two women succeed each other as president.  Her greeting at the 1985 SAA annual meeting in Austin, Texas, was entitled “With Feathers” and was published in the Winter 1986 issue of the American Archivist.

Finnegan took the title of her remarks from an Emily Dickinson poem:

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all . . . .” (6)

She identified two goals for her presidency:

  1. have a productive year during the transition to a new executive director
  2. help plan the 50th anniversary celebration for SAA

In considering the upcoming celebration for SAA, Finnegan looked to T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Four Quartets”:

“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
. . . . . . . .
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose garden.  My words echo
Thus in your mind” (7).

Finnegan concluded by identifying two areas in need of support by SAA members:

  • Task Force on Archives and Society — which released a report in 1985 about a survey of archivists’ resource allocators that reflected on the identity of archivists and how this influenced the accumulation of necessary resources
  • Committee on Goals and Priorities (C-GAP) — because of its focus on developing a vision for the SAA and the profession, Finnegan saw it as “the thing with feathers”
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