History of the ASA

The Australian Society of Archivists was formed in 1975 in response to the growing number of archivists in Australia and to the increasing demand for archival skills.

An Archives Section of the Library Association of Australia (LAA) had operated since 1951 and, from 1955, included the provision of the journal, Archives and Manuscripts. In June 1973 Bob Sharman, then editor of Archives and Manuscripts, sent out a circular advising of the likely end of the journal unless he received more support from the profession. One idea that he considered might achieve this objective was that “some organisation other than the Archives Section of the Library Association of Australia takes over responsibility”.

In a letter to the editor in the August 1973 edition of Archives and Manuscripts, Michael Saclier answered this challenge by stating that as “the archivists of Australia have accepted the LAA in the absence of anything else, indeed in many instances have declined to join it and in general regard the Archives Section as utterly impotent” it was now time “to make a new attempt to organise ourselves in a society which can lead and support the archivists of Australia in their professional lives”. In the same month, after the AGM of the LAA Archives Section, a steering committee to investigate the possibility of forming such a society was established. This committee consisted of Michael Saclier, Pat Quinn, Gerald Fischer, John Cross and Chris Hurley (replaced by Max Franklin while Chris was overseas) and was also assisted by Paul Wilson in Brisbane, Anne Green in Melbourne, Margaret Medcalf in Perth and Mary McRae in Hobart.

The inaugural meeting of the Society was held at the Australian National University in April 1975, with seventy-four people attending. By the meeting’s conclusion a constitution had been adopted, provision for professional, associate and institutional members had been made and a Council had been elected – the Australian Society of Archivists had come into being.

The ASA Archives are held at the Noel Butlin Archives Centre at the Australian National Univeristy Archives in Canberra.

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