Thursday, June 3, 2010

Friends of Archives Groups: A Preliminary Report

RAO is happy to share here "Friends of Archives Groups: A Preliminary Report" prepared by RAO member George Bain at his request.

The research was conducted during Winter and early Spring 2010. The data were gathered mostly through a Google search using the term “friends of the archives” but a few of the entries in the list below were passed along by colleagues who responded to a posting on the SAA Reference, Access & Outreach section’s discussion group that requested assistance. Although there are friends groups in other countries, the scope of the survey was limited to groups within the boundaries of the USA.

The attempt of the study has been to find and feature groups organized for the purpose of supporting archival repositories. There are, as may be expected, many repositories that may be a beneficiary of “friends of the library” groups, but these were generally excluded because the focus is on the larger entity. As will be seen, however, in instances where a group combines “library” and “archives” in its respective title, the list includes such entries. But the larger number of groups listed have been established to be “friends of the archives”. And in all instances but one, the URL link for the groups listed is included.

As the data being gathered was largely from the Internet, there were two other eliminations as well. First, it was necessary to separate out entries related to the religious group the Society of Friends. Secondly, it was necessary to filter out archival holdings for other “friends” groups, e.g., the holdings of Friends of Georgia Midwives.

In this preliminary report, there are a total of 35 groups on the list. The groups included are separated into three general categories: (1) state archives/historical records agencies groups, (2) college and university groups, and (3) other groups.

There are 13 groups in the first category. These are groups which provide support for the state archives itself or provide assistance for the larger role of the State Historical Records Advisory Boards (SHRABs). The groups stretch from Delaware through Missouri into California but are very much a phenomenon of the states in the southeastern region of the country.

The second category includes groups established to provide support for focused academic centers at both the college and the university level. The category includes the Friends of the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan and the Friends of the University Archives at the University of South Alabama along with the Friends of the United Methodist Archives of the Detroit Conference centered at Adrian College in Michigan, the Friends of the Vietnam Center and Archives at Texas Tech University and two interesting groups at the University of California, Berkley, the Friends of the Environmental Design Archives and the Friends of the Water Resources Center Archives.

The third category is for other groups. It is possible some of these could be placed elsewhere, such as the first category (e.g., friends groups for NARA regional centers) and someday, if the numbers of “friends of the archives” groups grow, entries in this category may separate into more categories. Of particular note here, however, are the groups, especially in southeastern states, organized to provide support for city and county-level archival operations. It will be interesting to see if this type of friends organization grows over time.

This preliminary report is very limited in scope. There is no analysis, for example, of the structure of the organizations, mission statements, or a table created for the years they were established. Suffice it to say that, though small in number, friends of the archives groups have a place in the archival realm. It is to be hoped this cursory exploration will serve as a starting point for archivists, especially those in the organizations, who may be interested in sharing information and perspectives on their respective groups. Perhaps this exploration can also lead to sessions at regional meetings. If this proves at all to be helpful, it will have accomplished its objective.

List of Friends of the Archives Groups:

State Archives/Historical Records Agencies groups:
Friends of the Alabama Archives -
Friends of Arizona Archives -
Friends of California Archives – [no web site]
Friends of the Delaware Public Archives -
Friends of the State Library and Archives of Florida -
Friends of Georgia Archives and History -
Friends of the Indiana State Archives, Inc. – also
Friends of Kentucky Public Archives, Inc. -
Friends of the Maryland State Archives -
Friends of the Missouri State Archives -
Friends of the Archives, Inc., North Carolina State Archives -
South Carolina Archives & History Foundation -
Friends of the Libraries & Archives of Texas -

College and University groups:
Adrian College, MI – Friends of the United Methodist Archives of the Detroit Conference -
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI – The Friends of the Bentley Historical Library /
Bethel University, MN – Friends (of the Archives) of the Baptist General Conference History Center -
University of Akron, OH – Friends of the Archives of the History of American Psychology -
University of California, Berkeley, CA – Friends of the Environmental Design Archives –
University of California, Berkeley, CA – Friends of the Water Resources Center Archives -
University of South Alabama – Friends of the University Archives -
Texas Tech University – Friends of the Vietnam Center and Archive -

Other groups:
Limestone County, Athens, AL -
Morrow, GA – Friends of the National Archives-Southeast Region -
Pittsfield, MA – Friends of the National Archives-Pittsfield, Silvio O. Conte National Records Center -
Detroit, MI – Friends of the Library & Archives, Henry Ford Hospital -
Butte, MT – Friends of the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives -
New York, NY – Friends of the Harlem Cultural Archives -
Bethlehem, PA – Friends of the Moravian Church Archives -
Philadelphia, PA – Friends of the Archives, Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center -
City Archives of Kingsport, TN – Friends of the Archives -
Madisonville, TN – Friends of the Archives Historical & Preservation Society -
Nashville, TN - Friends of Metropolitan Archives of Nashville and Davidson County -
Oklahoma City, OK - Friends of the Oklahoma Historical Society Archives -
Winston-Salem, NC – Friends of the Moravian Archives -
Camden, SC – Friends of the Camden Archives & Museum –

George Bain may be contacted at

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