Still no luck in finding the presidential address from the 1986 annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists (SAA), so I’ll proceed to the 1987 address delivered by William L. Joyce at the annual meeting in New York.  Joyce served as Curator of Manuscripts at the American Antiquarian Society, Manuscripts Librarian at the William L. Clements Library of the University of Michigan, Assistant Director for Rare Books and Manuscripts at the New York Public Library, and associate university librarian for rare books and special collections at Princeton University.  This address was published in the Winter/Spring 1988 issue of the American Archivist.

Joyce served on numerous task forces and committees related to archival education, so he was certainly well-versed in the topic.  He identified a number of signs indicating increased interest in professional education and identity for archivists:

  • numerous relevant sessions at SAA annual meetings
  • revised “Guidelines for Graduate Archival Education Programs”
  • SAA representation on accreditation teams evaluating graduate archival education programs
  • SAA’s development of “basic archival education packages” as well as specialized courses (18)
  • SAA’s funding for an education officer
  • development of a program of certification for archivists

As indicated by his title, Joyce incorporated two fables into his address.  The story of the Man and the Satyr was used to encourage archivists to be flexible in defining their identity rather than being like the confused satyr who couldn’t comprehend how the man’s breath could at one time warm his hands and another time cool his porridge.  More specifically, he argued that archivists could carve out an autonomous professional identity while also fulfilling the dual need of serving as “specialized practitioners” in the information community (19).  And the fable of the Lioness and the Vixen illustrated the value of consensus in crafting a “community of professional authority and competence” (18).  Joyce argued that this sense of community is vital to the continuation and growth of the archival field.

Joyce suggested that, in keeping with the work of Terry Eastwood, more emphasis on archival theory should help to strengthen the profession.  He pointed proudly to the life cycle model as a “uniquely American contribution to archival theory” (20).  He suggested integrating more of the work of social scientists and sociologists into archival work as a means of promoting the understanding of institutions and their functions — which he pointed out is very much in keeping with the “provenance-based approach to organizing information” (20).  He bemoaned the lack of emphasis on methodology, paleography, and diplomatics and asserted,

“Perhaps by reemphasizing the theoretical importance of the attributes of the record in its fullest historical context, we might redirect interest toward understanding the sources themselves” (21).

Joyce referenced Andrea Hinding’s ode to paper records in her 1984 greeting at the SAA annual meeting and warned archivists against “being unduly directed by the technological imperative” (21).  He suggested educational programs need to provide adequate coverage to all three eras of historical records:

  1. hand-produced documents
  2. mechanically-produced documents
  3. electronically-produced documents

In conclusion, Joyce identified “several pragmatic limitations to the vitality of our graduate archival education programs” (21):

  • enrollments must be small, therefore, faculty positions will be limited
  • archival educators are essential to these programs, but the modest number of such positions requires other archivists to also contribute to the archival literature
  • establishing standards and enforcement mechanisms will necessarily impact some existing archivists adversely — so Joyce advised that “we need to work diligently to ensure that the creation of a community of the competent does not destroy a community of diversity and deprive us of some of the differences in interest and perspective that have brought us vitality” (22)
  • every effort needs to be made to insure the graduates of archival education programs have the skills necessary to qualify for jobs — and that such jobs are actually available

Given that Jackie Dooley chose to focus her 2013 presidential address on the state of archival education and especially on the lives of young archival professionals, it would seem that Joyce’s final piece of advice was not fully heeded.  In my humble opinion, this has resulted from ignoring his first limitation and instead filling graduate programs with as  many paying customers as possible, irrespective of the availability of well-compensated jobs for qualified graduates.

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