GIVE BACK at SAA 2018: The National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives has had a banner year!

By Eve Neiger, Vice-Chair/Chair Elect for the Preservation Section and member of the NDRFA Grant Review Committee

The National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives (NDRFA) has been hard at work this past year with a total of nine grants approved in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. The Fall 2017 hurricane season hit the mid-Atlantic region hard and our colleagues in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are still working on recovery efforts and struggling with intermittent or no power and a lack of services, as they prepare for another hurricane season. The Preservation Section and the NDRFA Grant Review Committee need your help to shore up the NDRFA fund so we can continue to award grants to repositories in need.
Click here for ways to help!


In September 2005, the Society of Southwest Archivists and the Society of American Archivists created the SSA-SAA Emergency Disaster Assistance Grant Fund—a fund established to address the stabilization and recovery needs of archival repositories affected by Hurricane Katrina. In October 2005, the Fund was expanded to include repositories affected by Hurricane Rita. Both SAA and SSA provided $5,000 in “seed” money to establish the Fund.

Working together, SSA and SAA expanded the original scope of the Fund to provide grants that support the recovery of archival collections from major disasters, regardless of region or repository type.

Any repository that holds archival records or special collections is eligible to apply for a grant and the repository need not be a member of SSA or SAA. Grant monies may be used for the direct recovery of damaged or at-risk archival materials; such services as freeze drying, storage, transportation of materials, and rental facilities; supplies, including acid-free boxes and folders, storage cartons, cleaning materials, plastic milk crates, and protective gear; and to defray the costs for volunteers or other laborers who assist with the recovery. This year, the amount of grant awards has been increased from $2,000 to $5,000 so that grants can have a greater impact on institutions recovering from disasters.

There has been a steady stream of grant applications in the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. A record fourteen applications were received between September 2017 and May 2018, the majority from Puerto Rico with three from the Virgin Islands, one from Mexico, and one from Texas. A total of nine grants have been awarded this year so far with four grants still pending.

After grants are received, recipients are required to provide a report detailing their use of grant funds. With their grant, the Historic Municipal Archive of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Autonomous Municipality of Caguas, Puerto Rico, replaced damaged archival housings and stabilized their storage environment with the help of two dehumidifiers and a thermo-hygrometer. In their report, sent at the end of May, they stated:

“The Historic Municipal Archive has regained its normal working schedule. Since January, we have attended 652 information requests from students, teachers, investigators, and professors. The assistance provided by the Society of American Archivists has played a vital role in the recovery efforts of the archive.”

For the last decade, the Preservation Section has run annual fundraising efforts for the NDRFA. In 2015, the section started a new tradition of raising funds through an annual Silent Auction featuring donations from colleagues across the country. This first auction, at the SAA Annual Meeting in Cleveland, OH, raised $1,185. Since that inaugural auction, we continue to support the NDRFA through increased donations and fundraising each year. The auction raised $1,750 in 2016 with 40 donations in Atlanta, GA and we broke our goal of $2,000 last year in Portland, OR with a total of $2,037 raised towards the NDRFA.


Popular items at the 2017 Preservation Section Silent Auction in Portland, OR. Photo by Neiger.

We are hoping that this year’s auction will continue the pattern of growth that we have established over the last few years. With this year’s conference registration numbers reaching a record high, we are optimistic that we can raise more funds this year than we have in past years. A successful silent auction is needed more than ever since we awarded so many grants this year to institutions in need.

This year’s Preservation Section Silent auction will take place on Thursday and Friday, August 16th and 17th at ARCHIVES*RECORDS 2018 at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. We will be set up on the Lobby Level right near the SAA Bookstore. Please stop by, peruse our fantastic selection of items, and BID, BID, BID! Bidding opens at 9am on Thursday August 16th and closes at 3:30pm on Friday August 17th.

We have some fantastic donations promised this year with more to come. In fact, a number of donations to this year’s auction come from our colleagues in Puerto Rico, some from institutions who have benefited from grants in the past year. It is moments like these that make me grateful to be a member of a professional community that is so dedicated to giving back. We may contribute daily in obvious or more subtle ways to the preservation and dissemination of information, but it is when we come together as a community to hold each other up in times of loss, and join hands to rebuild and support community repositories, that our professional community really shines.

In this spirit of community giving, please join us by supporting the auction! It’s not too late! Thank you for supporting the National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives!


The Preservation Section invites you to contribute an item to the auction! We are looking for items from either repositories or regions that you feel might be interesting to others. The only parameter that we have is that the item MUST be able to be packed in either a carry-on or checked bag.

Popular items from last year’s silent auction include:
Regional food and drink (alcohol is quite welcome, and very popular!)
• Repository T-Shirt, tote bag, etc.
• Art
• Handmade items (hand knitted and handcrafted bags are especially popular!)
• Repository publications (though heavier books are less popular and harder to take home!)

*NEW THIS YEAR* Please fill out this Google form to commit a donation to the auction:

We ask that you bring the donated item with you to the conference and drop it off at the auction table Wednesday 8/15 between 6-6:30pm or Thursday 8/16 between 7:30-9am.

If you have any questions about the auction, please contact Eve Neiger at



Bid, bid bid! Visit the Silent Auction Table on the Lobby Level of the Marriott Wardman Park in D.C. on Thursday August 16th and Friday August 17th to bid on auction items! Bidding is open Thursday 9am-5pm and Friday 9am-3:30pm. Make sure to get your bid in right before bidding closes to guarantee a win!

Donate directly to the NDRFA fund! Visit the SAA Foundation donation page to donate funds directly to the NDRFA

We look forward to seeing you in D.C.!

For more information about the NDRFA visit:

Thanks to the National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives grant committee members: Rebecca Elder, Dick Cameron, Daniel McCormack, Eve Neiger, Melissa Torres, and Julie Yamashita. Miriam Meislik currently serves as chair. A special thank you and shout-out to Felicia Owens for her amazing support!

Thanks, also, to the Preservation Section members and Steering Committee with a special thanks to Section Chair Janet Carleton!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s