Roving Archivist Program

What is a Roving Archivist?

A Roving Archivist is a trained archival professional who is contracted by the MA SHRAB, through funding from the NHPRC, as part of its mission to provide leadership, advocacy and guidance to help ensure the identification, preservation and use of the Commonwealth’s historical resources, both public and private. The Roving Archivist Program connects stewards of historical records with a trained professional archivist to provide advice on policies, procedures, arrangement and description of records, preservation planning and emergency preparedness.

We are adjusting the application categories for our Roving Archivist program to better reflect the work that is most needed. Starting in April, 2017, Roving Archivist services will be awarded in the following three categories:

Strategic Assessment of the Institution and Documentation Review

This category of assistance is for institutions that are just beginning to assess their needs. Preference will be given to institutions with smaller collections, within the range of 500 linear feet or less. The Roving Archivist will engage with key members of the institution, including the Director or Chair of the Board (for small historical societies). S/he will review the condition of the collections and address the basic components of running an archives, such as the importance of collection development policies, disaster planning, and preservation. The Roving Archivist will then complete a report of recommendations and a list of resources customized to the needs of the institution.

Follow-up activities with these institutions may include assisting them in creating appropriate policy and procedure statements, or reviewing existing documentation that may be in place. Applicants with no policies and/or processes should review examples of policy models that are available online from the Society of American Archivists.

Arrangement and Description

This category of assistance will provide guidance and training for the arrangement and description of collections held by small and medium sized institutions. The materials being processed are chosen by the applicant and described as part of the application form. As part of this process, the Roving Archivist will provide rudimentary training to the staffs of the participating institutions in the basics of archival processing, policy and procedure development, preservation steps, and disaster planning. As part of this process, the Roving Archivist will assist the institutions in preparing their cataloging for inclusion in the MA SHRAB’s online registry and catablog (see below).

Cataloging Assistance

The MA SHRAB has rolled out the Commonwealth Historical Collaborative registry and catablog. The goal of the registry is to have a comprehensive online portal containing information about every institution in Massachusetts that cares for historic records, from historical societies and local libraries, to universities, town clerks, museums and historic sites. Each CHC partner is provided with online pages to describe their mission, scope, and history; collections; hours and location; programs; and other public activities.

For institutions who wish, the CHC provides a powerful, free, and easy-to-use online catalog to assist our partners in managing information about their collections and making it easily available to researchers. The “catablog” (a catalog built on blogging software) is highly flexible and makes it possible for anyone with access to the internet to learn about our holdings.


Submit this application to apply for Roving Archivist assistance.