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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jimerson, Randall C.

Second Advisor

Kurtz, Tony, 1965-

Third Advisor

Steele, Ruth Catherine


This thesis explores ways in which the American archival profession, through the Society of American Archivists (SAA), can promote the trustworthiness of archives and archivists. The further professionalization, which involves the creation of a cohesive organization, standards, and a code of ethics, of the archival field is one proposed starting point. Currently, SAA is already on the path of professionalization. For some occupations, professionalization also includes the enforcement of standards and ethics, as well as the certification of members. I argue that for the American archival profession, however, these are not the paths to take. Enforcement and certification require infrastructure and social power that SAA simply does not possess. Enforcement is also problematic, as situations are never black and white, and decisions can never be guaranteed to be impartial and unbiased. This thesis also argues that SAA should create an online ethics resource and support center to assist members faced with quandaries about ethics, as part of a continuing process of reflection and debate about ethics within the profession. This reflection and debate will encourage "ethical being" and thinking in members. It is this "ethical being" that will make archivists and, by extension, archives deserving of trust.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subjects – Names (LCNAF)

Society of American Archivists

Subject – LCSH

Archivists--Professional ethics--United States; Archives--United States--Management

Geographic Coverage

United States




masters theses




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