Library & Research Services

State of the ASLA Chapter Archives

Hollinger Boxes

The Archives and Collections Committee solicited responses to a survey about chapter archives from leaders present at the Chapter Presidents Council meeting at the annual conference in San Diego. The following information and resources were compiled in response to the survey results.

Number of Archives

All but two of the chapter leaders surveyed affirmed that their chapters kept archives. (Including the 24 who acknowledged “sort of” having archives.) ASLA is aware of the following eight chapter records formally stored at an archival repository:

  • ASLA Minnesota at the Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota
  • ASLA Nevada at the Architecture Studies Library, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • ASLA New York Upstate at the F. Franklin Moon Library, SUNY College Environmental Science and Forestry
  • ASLA North Carolina (and the old Southeastern Chapter) at the State Archives of North Carolina
    • East Georgia Section of the old Southeastern Chapter at the Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Georgia
  • ASLA Northern California at the Environmental Design Library, University of California, Berkeley
  • ASLA Potomac at the DC Public Library, Special Collections
  • ASLA South Carolina at the Special Collections Library, Clemson University
  • ASLA Washington (and the old Pacific Northwest Chapter) at the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections

Where to Begin

Many survey respondents indicated that they would like some guidance in creating and maintaining an archive of chapter records. The Archives and Collections Committee has previously created a reference guide for archiving landscape architecture records, which is a great place to begin thinking about the nuts and bolts of organizing a chapter’s archives.

What Should Be Archived

The contents of a chapter’s archives will vary from chapter to chapter based on factors such as chapter size, the existence of chapter employees, the wishes of chapter leadership, etc. Some things that might be included:

  • Organizational chart
  • Chapter bylaws & administrative rules
  • Executive Committee meeting minutes
  • Annual meeting agenda
  • Annual Report
  • Membership list
  • Awards
  • Chapter founding documents
  • Oral histories

ASLA’s Document Retention and Destruction Policy can also be a useful tool for determining the types of records that should be retained by the chapters; including documents that should be legally kept for a period of time and then destroyed, such as:

  • Tax documents
  • Non-profit incorporation materials
  • Budget
  • Bank statements

When making these decisions it is important to keep in mind that ASLA NATIONAL DOES NOT KEEP CHAPTER RECORDS; it is incumbent on the chapters to save whatever chapter materials they believe have enduring historical value.

Where Should Things Be Stored

Many if not most records that chapters will need to save now and into the future will be in a digital format. With this in mind, and especially given the annual turnover of chapter volunteer leadership, it is recommended to choose a shared cloud-based internet storage service to act as a repository to safely store and organize chapter documents and records. Popular platforms include Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive. It may also be worth backing up particularly important records offline on a physical hard drive.

For permanent storage of chapter records of enduring historical value, it is recommended to identify a local archival institution for donation of materials. Such archival repositories include universities, state archives, and historical societies.

Who Should Manage the Archives

This is yet another decision that will need to be made on a chapter-by-chapter basis, depending on the needs and abilities of each chapter. The important thing is that SOMEONE is managing the record-keeping. Chapters may decide to create a Chapter Archivist position, or they may assign historical archiving tasks to the same individual who is (hopefully) already keeping the chapter's legal and financial records in order. Potential chapter leaders who could fill this role include:

  • Chapter executive
  • Chapter trustee
  • Immediate-past chapter trustee
  • Chapter secretary
  • Chapter archivist
  • A (semi-)retired chapter fellow

ASLA Library Resources

Only five chapter leaders surveyed acknowledged having seen the ASLA Library’s webpage. Here are some of the resources that you can find there:

  • The online catalog of ASLA library materials including books, journals, and archival materials
  • The ASLA Fellows Database with information about the work and achievement of all of the ASLA Fellows from the original class of 1899 through the current class
  • The aforementioned Reference Guide for Archiving with steps for landscape architects to consider and how to proceed with establishing a collection of materials of their executed works
  • The Collections List of archival collections related to landscape architecture at other institutions; including ASLA chapter archives
  • Books by ASLA Members: ASLA’s Amazon webstore of books by member-authors, proceeds benefiting the ASLA Library

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