Nancy Beaumont to Receive National Recognition for Archives Advocacy

By CoSA News posted 06-08-2021 12:00 AM

Nancy Beaumont

The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) is awarding Nancy Perkin Beaumont, outgoing Executive Director of the Society of American Archivists (SAA), the 2021 CoSA Advocacy for Archives Award. Nancy has advanced archival advocacy work in her role as SAA's Executive Director, and through her skill, intelligence, and grace has elevated advocacy work across the archival profession.

"Nancy has been a leader in advocating for archives and has shared managerial skills, precise writing, and strategic thinking to increase the relevance and success of national archival advocacy efforts," said Barbara Teague, CoSA's Executive Director.

Along with CoSA's then Executive Director Vicki Walch and CoSA members Kathleen Roe and David Carmicheal, Nancy helped coordinate the effort of creating the Partnership for the American Historical Record (PAHR), a cooperative project of CoSA, SAA, and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA) to seek additional funding for archival institutions and programs. Nancy arranged for SAA to host the PAHR webpage and helped issue action alerts to Congress.

Although the PAHR effort has not yet been successful, and remains as an aspirational idea today, participants working for PAHR from archival institutions and repositories learned a great deal about advocating for archives, how to contact Congress, how to write statements about archival issues, and how federal budget authorization and appropriations work. Aided by Nancy's savvy and skill, the archival profession gained information on advocacy and continues to use and refine that knowledge today.

Thanks to Nancy's leadership in working collegially with other organizations, she created a trusting relationship with CoSA and NAGARA through co-hosting joint annual meetings. Because of successful joint meetings in 2006, 2010, and 2014, the three archival associations decided to increase cooperative efforts for archival advocacy and build on the foundations of the PAHR group and create the Joint Working Group on Issues and Awareness in 2014.

Nancy was instrumental in the early years of the Joint Working Group and provided guidance to steer the members as they created governance procedures for the group and set its advocacy agenda and work plan. Nancy's strategic analytical skills helped to set the group on a successful course of sharing advocacy activities, issuing joint statements, and working on cooperative campaigns together. In addition to her very skilled editing and writing of statements and issue briefs and her insight and understanding of the landscape and history of archival advocacy work over the past two decades, she also brings her incredible diligence to ensure that the group follows through on planned activities and statements.

Nancy has championed SAA's support for archival advocacy efforts, knowing that active participation of the largest archival association in the US and inclusivity of other organizations, regardless of size and contributions, would help ensure a strong archival advocacy program, and has encouraged cooperation among archival associations.

This was evident in the profession's first-ever archival advocacy day, Archives on the Hill, in 2018, that preceded another joint annual meeting of the three archival associations in Washington, DC. CoSA and SAA, joined by NAGARA and the Regional Archival Associations Consortium (RAAC) coordinated Archives on the Hill, with SAA hosting a webinar, hiring an intern to make appointments for over 70 archival advocates with Congressional offices, and by taking the lead role in editing an archival advocacy guide. With the many contributions from the participating organizations, this first archival advocacy event at the Capitol was a great success and created long-term connections with some Congressional offices. Because of Nancy, the advocacy guide is exhaustive, the organization and communication of the event was impeccable, and the congressional meetings all went off as scheduled, especially when Nancy took over that work after the intern returned to college. At least a hundred people contributed to the work of this event, but without Nancy, it would not have had the same impact or long-term effects on advocacy work in the profession.

Nancy also spent many years as SAA's representative on the Policy Board of the National Coalition for History (NCH) and was often the lone representative from an archival association. CoSA has been on and off the policy board because we do not pay the dues amount that make us eligible for a permanent seat on the board, so we have often relied on Nancy to share information with us about NCH efforts, goals, and priorities. With an occasional emergency on archival issues brought to the Policy Board in times when CoSA was not a member, Nancy called on advice from CoSA, in addition to seeking assistance from her own membership, to ensure that a variety of archival perspectives were included. This generosity and collegiality exemplify Nancy's contributions to archival advocacy over the past two decades.

Aside from some of our own CoSA members well-known for advocacy work, Nancy has been the most consistent presence and voice in archival advocacy planning and activities. CoSA President and New York State Archivist Thomas J. Ruller notes, "Nancy's recognition of the importance of advocacy to the elevation of our profession and the collections we hold influenced many others to think more broadly about our responsibilities and obligations as archival advocates. As Nancy retires from SAA this year, she leaves a strong and many-faceted legacy, including pivotal contributions to the growth of archival advocacy work. On behalf of my colleagues in state and territorial archives, I congratulate Nancy for her meaningful contributions and career."