Society of Southwest Archivists


  • 11 Mar 2019 11:50 AM | Jaimi Parker (Administrator)

    At its 8 March 2019 meeting, the SSA Board voted unanimously to immediately stop accepting job advertisements that do not list a salary or salary range. This applies to all SSA media including the website forums, Facebook, and Twitter.

    Any request to post a job announcement that does not include salary information will be held while the requestor is contacted and asked to provide this information. Once salary information has been added to the announcement, the job advertisement will be posted.

  • 05 Mar 2019 11:50 AM | Jaimi Parker (Administrator)

    This is the second part of a two-part series.

    By Mark Lambert, SSA President, 2018-2019

    The Southwestern Archivist, Vol. 42, No. 1 (February 2019): 5-6.
    See Part 1 of this column, “Top archives directors are failing the profession,” in the November 2018 issue of Southwestern Archivist.

    Our two national professional organizations, the Society of American Archivists (SAA), and the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries Division of the American Library Association are also failing us, when they could be assisting on this issue so easily.

    According to the SAA Mission: “SAA promotes the value and diversity of archives and archivists.” However, SAA does not require employers to list salaries on their website.

    The RBMS Mission says: “It strives to represent and promote the interests of librarians, curators, and other specialists.” RBMS also does not require employers to list salaries.

    Both organizations provide an easy platform for hundreds of employers to advertise jobs directly to thousands of archivists yearly, but set no pay minimums, or even require a salary to be listed at all.

    Should I really have to apply for a job before I even find out what the expected salary or salary range is in the internet age, from two organizations that have as their core functions access to information and excellent customer service? NO, NO, NO…a thousand times NO!

    These organizations will probably respond by saying “there are a multitude of factors that go into setting someone’s pay, and it can’t be reduced to a single number or range,” but that is total bunk. Every Archives prepares a yearly budget, and for each Archives there is either a set salary, or a set salary range, sitting in that budget, based on several factors like experience, education, benefits, etc. Why not advertise the job with a salary or salary range?

    Not listing a salary or salary range give more power to the potential employer. Why would our professional organizations want to give power to our potential employers to underpay us? Possibly because our professional organizations are ethically compromised, since they are also taking money from these Archives to advertise for jobs, or in sponsorship money yearly. This should stop now.

    Also, for “vagueness” in language in a profession that prides itself on precision, good writing, facts and essential evidence, these two phrases are award-winners: “competitive salary with benefits,” and “salary commensurate with experience.” These phrases have no fixed meaning and tell an applicant from across the country exactly zero. The use of these phrases should be stopped immediately.

    Our professional organizations should require all advertisers and employers to list a salary or salary range, or not take their advertisement. It’s as simple as that.

    In fact, it’s a little more work, but we should also advocate for setting minimum salaries for job advertisements by region. Surely national organizations with thousands of members can have one large, diverse committee that meets once a year to set minimum salaries per region. This should also be done.[1]

    Our professional organizations need to stop trying to be advocates for Archives as well as Archivists. These are conflicting goals that allow Archives, our employers, to take advantage of Archivists. There are many other national organizations that can advocate for Archives, like COSANAGARANHANCHAASLH, and the NCPH.

    Archivists need their professional organizations to better advocate for them, or we can find someone else to advocate for us. We also need the top Directors in our profession to descend from their penthouse offices long enough to start paying their staffs better. Only when both things happen will salaries in the archives profession rise in general.

    [1] If librarians can do it, why not archivists?

  • 25 Feb 2019 11:55 AM | Jaimi Parker (Administrator)

    Signups have been extended to Wednesday March 5

    Howdy! It’s time for the 2019 SSA Scholarships (virtual) Quilt Bee! This year, we’ll be making the desert bloom with a Tussie Mussie quilt using some truly gorgeous Kaffe Fassett fabric. If you want to participate, please fill out the form and send in your participation fee by March 1st! Only 25 squares are available—First come, first serve!

    The finished quilt will be sold in the Silent Auction at the Annual Meeting in Tucson, with the proceeds going to the Scholarships Fund.


    • Pre-cut fabric & instructions will be sent to participants by 3/13.
    • You’ll complete & return your (easy!) square by 4/5.
    • Jennifer Hecker will piece the top & Amanda Focke will back, bind, and quilt it.
    • Funds raised by auctioning the quilt at the annual meeting will go to SSA Scholarships.
    • Participating quilters are asked to contribute a $15 donation to offset the cost of fabric & postage.

    Questions? Contact Jennifer Hecker at

    Sign up form

    2019 Virtual SSA Quilt Bee (PDF)

  • 18 Jan 2019 11:57 AM | Jaimi Parker (Administrator)

    Don’t forget to submit your application for an SSA scholarship. Applications are due February 19 (or postmarked by February 15 if submitting by mail).

    Four scholarships are available to support the continuing education and professional development of our members. These scholarships provide financial assistance to defray the costs of attending the annual meeting, student tuition and book fees, attendance at a professional workshop or other continuing education activity. An individual may apply for more than one scholarship but may not receive the same scholarship more than once. Descriptions and application guidelines for each scholarship can be found by following the links below.

    Annual Meeting Scholarship

    A. Otis Hebert, Jr. Continuing Education Scholarship

    David B. Gracy II Student Scholarship

    John Michael Caldwell Student Scholarship

  • 14 Jan 2019 11:59 AM | Jaimi Parker (Administrator)

    The Conference of Inter-Mountain Archivists (CIMA) and the Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA) invite graduate and undergraduate students to submit an abstract for a poster presentation at the 2019 Joint Annual Meeting taking place in Tucson, Arizona, on May 15-18, 2019.

    Posters may describe applied or theoretical research that is completed or underway; discuss interesting archival collections with which students have worked; or report on archives and records projects in which students have participated (e.g., development of finding aids, public outreach, database construction, etc.). Submissions should focus on research or activity conducted within the previous academic year (Fall 2018-Spring 2019). Easel dimensions are: 36 inches by 48 inches (vertical format; clip at top to secure poster with shelf at bottom to stand poster. Poster can be mounted or unmounted).

    Students will have the opportunity to discuss their poster with attendees for 30 minutes on Friday, May 17, at 3:00 pm in the conference hotel. Easels will be provided. Student poster presenters must register and secure institutional or personal funding to attend the Annual Meeting.

    Abstracts will be accepted by email until Friday, March 29, 2019.

    Include the following in your 1-page abstract:



    Purpose of project/research

    Description of project/research

    Conclusions/findings of project/research

    Submit your abstract to with “SSA Poster” as your subject line.

    Call for Student Posters flyer (PDF)

  • 20 Nov 2018 12:03 PM | Jaimi Parker (Administrator)

    Meet other archivists, gain valuable experience, help the archival community prosper, and earn the admiration of your colleagues by serving the most dynamic organization of archivists in the U.S.

    The SSA Nominating Committee is seeking candidates for the following positions in 2019:

    • Vice-President/President Elect (three year term-one as VP, one as President, and one as Immediate Past President)
    • Executive Board (3 positions, two-year term)
    • Nominating Committee (1 position, two-year term)
    • Scholarship Committee (1 position, three-year term)
    • Treasurer (two-year term)

    The responsibilities of each position are outlined in the SSA Officer & Committee Procedures Manual.

    If you would like to serve, or know an ideal candidate, please contact a member of the Nominating Committee:

    Rebecca Elder,

    Ann Hodges,

    Molly Hults,

    The deadline for submitted nominations is January 1, 2019

    Remember, if you are a Certified Archivist, or are planning to become certified, participating in the leadership of a professional organization such as SSA will earn you recertification credit.

  • 14 Nov 2018 12:04 PM | Jaimi Parker (Administrator)

    The top Archives directors are failing the profession.(1)

    It appears nearly every day brings a new article contrasting national wage stagnation with the ever-climbing stock market.(2) Even before the great recession, archivists, who are highly degreed professionals comparable to lawyers, accountants, and IT professionals, were poorly paid.(3)

    The reasons, both before and after the recession are, in large part, a failure of leadership by both those archivists at the head of management and the national organizations that claim to advocate for us.

    Most of us have at least one “prestigious” archives in our state, either at the largest public university, the largest private university, a private research library, or a presidential library; they tend to pay well.

    That is, they tend to pay one person very well: the director. The person at the ¹top of the organization chart should be a leader, yet sadly these de facto leaders of our profession, who have reaped so much, are failing our profession.(4) These “rock stars” are usually full professors from an academic department and the monkish world of terminal degrees, where individual achievements are rewarded, and not from a profession strongly focused on collaboration, customer service, public service, and outreach like Archives.

    Directors often make two to three times more than the management team directly below them, the associate or assistant directors. Those folks keep those prestigious archives operating Monday through Friday, while the director sets the mission and vision, does a lot of public speaking and talks to the press, meets regularly with their dean or board (and their associate or assistant directors), and meets with any potential donors.

    Here are two current examples in Austin of pay inequity, from two independent research centers at the largest public university in town, where the directors have lots of individual discretion over their budgets.(5) The information is obtained from a database of state government salaries maintained by the Texas Tribune, an independent news source based in Austin.(6) The Director of the Harry Huntt Ransom Humanities Research Center, or for short the HRC, makes $270,300.(7) The four associate directors listed make $96,900; $86,595; $79,707; and $71,420. Thus, the director makes more than double the highest paid associate director, and almost four times as much as the lowest paid associate director.(8)

    The Director of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, or the Briscoe Center, makes $220,239. The four assistant director salaries listed are: $88,990; $81,151; $76,404; and $70,411. Thus, the director makes over double what the highest paid assistant director makes, and triple what the lowest paid assistant director makes.

    If you look at the pay scale for the rest of the professional positions at both institutions, they generally are stacked between the $40,000s to $90,000s. This is a pathetically narrow range, considering levels of experience probably exist between 0 years and 30+ years, and supervision duties probably range from none to several persons.

    To be clear, I don’t begrudge these directors making good pay.(9) I only know them both by reputation, but they both have been in the profession a long time and are highly respected. However, they should think about their staffers more than they do promoting themselves.(10)

    Perhaps these directors would say in response, “well there is only so much money to go around (in the budget), and there is so much to do in an Archives.” Personally, speaking as a director of a large archives, I would rather have less staff, but have them better paid, with better morale, than to have more staff that are poorly-paid, with poor morale.

    Equitable salaries and higher morale will increase retention, as well, and if there is one thing archives benefit from, it’s institutional knowledge which we lose with high turnover. Some duties will probably never be done that formerly were done; that’s when you ask your boss for another “well-paid” position, not a poorly-paid one. I also realize all of this is relative, since no two archives are exactly alike, and at least partially based on geography; what is considered a good salary in Austin, Texas would probably be considered a poor salary in San Francisco, California. But we must start somewhere in better advocating for our staffers.

    Here is a simple back-of-the-napkin example, using Austin-area salary ranges: you have $225,000 in your budget for processing collections by early to mid-career archivists (pay only, leaving aside benefits to make the math the simplest). I would rather have four archivists making $56,250 each than five archivists making $45,000 each.(11) Can we all at least agree on this concept?

    I know we are all highly goal oriented, deeply care about great customer service, and hate to look at backlogs and unprocessed collections that could be used by our researchers, but if we don’t start better advocating for ourselves, we will have NO staff, as they leave our profession in droves soon to go do something else that pays better (like UX or records management).

    I also ask that if your state has a website that lists public salaries, including Archives, inside the southwest region or anywhere in the U.S., please let me know, and we can start compiling this information on a page on the SSA website, and add salary envy and peer pressure to this vital issue.

    Mark Lambert, current President of SSA.

    This is part one of a 2-part series.


    1. I am focusing on archives, since that is what I know best, but a lot of what I write could also possibly apply to our allied GLAM professions (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums.)

    2. “The Recovery Threw the Middle-Class Dream Under a Benz,” New York Times, Sept. 12, 2018,
2018/09/12/business/middle-class-financial-crisis.html; “Home affordability drops to lowest level in 10 years,” Houston Chronicle, Oct. 4, 2018, real-estate/article/Home-affordability-drops-to-lowest-level-in- 10-13280986.php.

    3. Tanya Zanish-Belcher, “President’s Message: Aiming for Affordability,” Archival Outlook, July/August 2018, p. 2.

    4. As we say in the military, “Lead, follow or get out of the way.”

    5. I realize not all top archives directors have the large amount of individual discretion over their budgets of the two mentioned here, but many do.

    6. The salary information was pulled from the database on 10/7/18. There does appear to be a few persons at each institution listed with higher salaries than the persons listed as associate or assistant director, but without inside knowledge of each archives, I will assume they are due to endowed positions which might or might not come with management duties.

    7. My goal is not to embarrass individual archivists, so I am leaving individual names out of this article; you can look them up if you want to, using the sources mentioned here.

    8. Since I don’t have any inside knowledge about this archives, I will assume the disparity in pay among the associate directors is related to the length of time in their respective positions.

    9. And for the record, they are both men—you can look up their biographies yourself.

    10. This recent Wall Street Journal article writes about corporations now looking for more bosses with humility (no joke!): bosses-1539092123

    11. Currently, the Texas Library Association asks that librarians with a graduate degree and no professional experience start at a minimum salary of over $43,000.

    This article also appears in the Fall 2018 issue of the Southwestern Archivist.

    UPDATE: SSA has created an opportunity to submit files to a crowd-sourced publicly available website, Archives Regional Salary Research

  • 07 Nov 2018 12:08 PM | Jaimi Parker (Administrator)

    Don’t forget! The deadline to submit session proposals for “Crossing Borders, Blazing Trails,” the joint SSA/CIMA Annual Meeting is fast approaching. The conference will be in Tucson, Arizona, May 15-18, 2019 at the Tucson Marriot University Park Hotel. The deadline for submission is November 16, 2018.

    Our friends with CIMA have invited participation in a “presenter connections” Google spreadsheet to facilitate collaboration and the creation of joint proposals. Please take a look and see what opportunities are out there.

    The 2019 Program Committee invites submissions for 60 or 90-minute sessions. Proposals are welcome on any subject or skill relevant to the archives profession. Current issues and recently completed projects are also of interest. All aspects of archives and records management are encouraged. Submit your ideas using the online form or email to

    The Program Committee looks forward to seeing all your great proposals!

  • 23 May 2018 12:09 PM | Jaimi Parker (Administrator)

    The Society of Southwest Archivists’ Diversity Committee acknowledges with respect the indigenous peoples of Texas, their history, and their influence on this area. A common tradition holds that the origin of the Spanish word for Texas, Tejas (from “taysha”), is the Caddo word for “friend.”[1] In that hopeful spirit of understanding (which too often in history has been ignored), this information is offered to the attendees of this year’s conference in San Antonio.

    Historically, seven linguistic groups have been identified as having lived in what is now Texas. Long before Texas was a state, indeed, before it was even Mexican or Spanish territory, there lived here indigenous groups such as the Tonkawa, Lipan Apache, Mescalero Apache, Comanche, Caddo, and Kickapoo. As for the San Antonio area itself, the various independent tribes who constituted the Coahuiltecan peoples lived here for thousands of years, including the Payaya, who were known to be living near here in the late 17th century. The San Antonio area also marked the southern limits of the territory ranged by the Wichita people. As the Spanish arrived in larger numbers in the area and began establishing missions and other permanent settlements, Native lives and folkways were profoundly affected – and often lost or deliberately destroyed – first by European colonization and later by United States expansion and settlement.

    Native Americans continue to reside in the area today. The Pacuache Tilijaya Coahuiltecan Tribe of Texas still flourishes in an area they have occupied for hundreds of years, even after generations of their ancestors were assimilated – often forcibly – into mission life. Likewise, the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation, whose ancestral members were the original inhabitants of the San Antonio missions, continues to survive and to maintain its cultural traditions. In Texas at large, there are three Native American reservations: the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Tribe of Texas, the Tigua Indians of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo of El Paso, and the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas. As in the rest of the United States, the vast majority of Native Americans in Texas – of which there are some 278,000 – live and work outside the established reservations.

    Learn more about the indigenous people of Texas:

    American Indians in Texas. Texas Historical Association

    Individual Nations in Texas or With Historical Interests in Texas

    Absentee Seminole Tribe of Texas

    Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas

    Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town

    Apache Tribe of Oklahoma

    Caddo Nation

    Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas

    Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

    Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

    Comanche Nation

    Delaware Nation

    Jicarilla Apache Nation

    Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas

    Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma

    Kiowa Tribe

    Lipan Apache Band of Texas

    Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas

    Mescalero Apache Tribe

    Mount Tabor Indian Community

    Muscogee (Creek) Nation

    Osage Nation

    Seminole Nation of Oklahoma

    Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation

    Texas Band of Yaqui Indians

    Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma

    United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma

    Wichita and Affiliated Tribes

    Ysleta del Sur Pueblo

    [1] Recent scholarship postulates that, in fact, the word “Texas” is derived from the Tejo (bald cypress) tree, so common to this area.

  • 26 Apr 2018 12:14 PM | Jaimi Parker (Administrator)

    What’s new?

    • The look and feel of the new site is based on the design elements of SSA logo and graphic design concept that was commissioned in 2009.
    • The site is fully responsive. Pages will resize automatically to your screen size including tablets and smart phones.
    • The menus were redesigned and expanded.
    • Side menus were incorporated onto pages with related information such as the Annual Meeting schedule, the About section, and the Committees pages.
    • Content restricted to active SSA members is denoted by a small lock symbol . Members can log in at any time via the login button at the top-right of the screen or on the page with restricted content.
    • The website is ADA-compliant, meaning that we have followed guidelines intended to help website designers build compliant websites. These changes include meeting a text contrast threshold, filling in the alt-text field for all images, removing all animation and autoplay carousels, providing close-captioning for audiovisual content, making keyboard-only navigation possible, as well as a slew of elements that fall under the banner of “common sense” and “good website design.”
    • Members with access can find the Wild Apricot admin link at the bottom of each page.
    • We hope to feature many more images of SSA member activities on the website going forward and include photos with blog posts and other content types. To this end, we will need member photo submissions! We set up a simple upload form on this page where members can simply and securely submit photos to SSA. All images will be credited and used for the sole purpose of further promoting SSA.

    graphic design piece showing the SSA logo, fonts, and colors  screenshot of side menu from the annual meeting page schedule  screenshot of the membership directory login area

    SSA Color Logos Side Menu Login Button

    screenshot of the website footer

    Footer Links

    Wild Apricot Integration

    Wild Apricot has created a plugin that allows members-only content (denoted by the symbol in the menu) to be integrated into the new website. These content features include:

    • Membership Directory
    • Membership Profile
    • Discussion Forums (Job Board, Professional Development, Let’s Talk Archives General Discussion Forum)
    • Workshop and Annual Meeting Registration

    Why was the website redesigned?

    Short answer: Aesthetics, sustainability, and mobile-friendly responsiveness.

    Last year, the Ad Hoc Committee on Internet Resources was created and tasked with improving the SSA website. After a slow and methodical six months and after user studies and some experimentation, the committee came to the conclusion that a modern website would be best created by re-designing the site from scratch. The committee came to this conclusion for the following reasons:

    • There was no way to re-design the Wild Apricot (WA) site without disrupting service. Changes would be made in real time meaning that pages would temporarily disappear and reappear from day to day.
    • Wild Apricot’s website templates, while more responsive and colorful than the old website, were not responsive or modern enough. We didn’t want to put a lot of work into something that would only be a half measure.
    • The WA user interface makes hosting photo and video content more difficult than it should be.
    • Customizing the WA website is difficult. Font and style choices are limited. The learning curve is steep.

    Once we decided to start over, we next chose to use the WordPress platform primarily because of the aforementioned plugin. Wordpress also has a much larger user base; you can google your way out of any problem, and the platform is much more flexible. Along the way we were fortunate to discover that the new website doesn’t cost the Society an additional funds. Our website hosting service, DreamHost, offers free hosting to non-profits.

    Questions or Comments can be sent to or by clicking on the (temporary) appeal at the top of each page.

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