The following announcement was written by the Archival Researchers Association:
We would like to introduce the Archival Researchers Association (ARA), a 501c3 not for profit organization created to advocate for researchers who require access to historical records stored at national and state archives. A group of professional researchers developed the ARA concept and have registered the organization with the State of Missouri and the IRS. A board of directors was established, with an elected five member executive board to oversee operations.
With federal research rooms closed since March 13, 2020 due to the COVID-19 virus, professional researchers nationwide are experiencing significant financial hardship and important projects relying on the work of researchers are at a standstill. While we fully support the implementation of CDC guidelines for a safe research room environment, we want to remind Congress and archives executives that maintaining prior levels of research services and access to archival records is essential for the financial recovery of small research businesses nationwide.
What we are doing
We understand that inadequate funding in recent years has resulted in cuts to records access for the public. On 26 August we sent a letter of introduction to the Archivist of the United States explaining that we intend to work alongside the National Archives (NARA), Congress and other like-minded organizations to secure additional funding for our nation’s archives.
Our current focus on access to records which are stored at NARA represents the reality that the majority of our members conduct research at NARA facilities nationwide. As we continue to bring on new members who utilize records at state and local archives, our focus will certainly shift to encompass those archives as well. We are excited to generate democratic debate and dialogue about the future of research so that we can advocate for the needs of our members in the research community.
As researchers, we are the stakeholders who most often use archival research facilities nationwide; therefore, we are uniquely qualified to inform the development of policy that will impact records access in the future. By listening to one another and developing an agenda based on the needs of the research community as a whole, we hope to effect positive and lasting change to research services and records access from which all of us can benefit.
We need your help to succeed
We will be hosting our first ‘town hall’ event on October 19th, 2020. Input from ARA members will determine the most pressing issues facing our researcher community. We encourage you to join prior to our town hall event to add your input to our appeal to Congress and archives management.
Both individual and business memberships are available. Join us today as we advocate for the essential access to records that researchers deserve. Check out our website and share it on social media. Offer input. Consider serving on a committee. Together we can advocate for improved research services and preserve records access for future generations of researchers.
Yes, we’re new at this, but we hope you will contact us with your questions and concerns so we can advocate for your future research needs. Our board meets remotely at board and committee levels using Zoom technology and we will present your questions and comments for discussion at those meetings and then respond to you via email or telephone.