Krishna Shenoy, Librarian/Archivist and John Slate, City Archivist, Dallas Municipal Archives. This is the fourth installment of a series of articles that commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Society of Southwest Archivists.
The Southwestern Archivist’s past issues serve as a chronicle of SSA during its good and bad times, look at past challenges and concerns within the archives community, and record achievements among SSA’s members.
SSA President A. Otis Hebert Jr. established the first issue of what was initially named “The Newsletter” in August 1973. The newsletter’s logo made its first appearance between 1976-1980 when Chris LaPlante of the Texas State Archives served as the editor.
While David L. Chapman was editor between 1984-1997, Texas A&M’s Sterling C. Evans Library printed “The Newsletter” free of charge for SSA. Succeeding Chapman, Michael Heskett of the Texas State Library and Archives’ Local Records Division changed The Newsletter’s consecutive numbering system to the volume and issue number format we see today.
Another editor who made a lasting impact on SSA’s publication was Leon C. Miller of Tulane University. During his editorship, with approval by the executive board in May 1990, the newsletter was released under its new title, The Southwestern Archivist. In addition to this new name, other features, such as identifying the authors of the articles published, were included.
The Southwestern Archivist was traditionally printed and mailed to SSA members and institutions; consistent and generous advertising supported the newsletter’s professional design. It entered the digital age in 2003 when recipients were presented the option of receiving both the print and/or digital version of the newsletter.
The newsletter’s content increased to include: coverage of local events, new exhibits, projects, employment opportunities, reports on national and international developments, archival publications, and notable changes in archival leadership across the region.
Beginning in mid-2018, the editorial team switched from using InDesign to the streamlined and user-friendly LucidPress to design The Southwestern Archivist. This change improved the newsletter’s aesthetic quality and feel. A cover page was also added to the newsletter to give it the appearance of a journal. At this time, the “Talk Of The Region” section was added to distinguish articles about individual repositories from those covering a broader range of southwest institutions or areas.
In 2020, Editor Nicholas Wojcik, Scholarly publishing Librarian at the University of Oklahoma Libraries, implemented a plan to change The Southwestern Archivist into a solely digital format as the print version was discontinued. During this time, Wojcik and the Diversity and Outreach Committee also began a bi-annual feature to highlight diverse collections and voices in archives. With this latest change, the digital only format allowed more editorial and creative freedom.
Under the current leadership of Krishna Shenoy, Librarian/Archivist, The Southwestern Archivist is now published in color. This latest change coincides with SSA’s new branding scheme to create a more unified appearance across all SSA communication platforms. Published on a quarterly basis, the newsletter remains a principal means of communication to members about SSA’s activities and actions.
Caption: Images in this blog post prior to 2003 are from the Society of Southwest Archivists Collection, Texas Collection and University Archives at Baylor University.