Today’s post comes from Meg Phillips, External Affairs Liaison at the National Archives.
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and our archival colleagues around the world are celebrating International Archives Week, June 5–9, 2023. Every year, International Archives Week commemorates the creation date of the International Council on Archives (ICA) on June 9, 1948.
This year is special, though: 2023 is the 75th anniversary of the ICA.
For its 75th anniversary, ICA is planning a full week of activities for the whole archives world. There will be webinars reflecting on changes in the field of archives—particularly in archives’ widely expanded user groups and social purposes—and a webinar presented by the upcoming generation of archivists, ICA’s New Professionals Programme will speak about their project on Volunteering Within the Heritage Sector. This year is also the 50th anniversary of the Association of Latin American Archives (ALA) and the 20th anniversary of ICA’s Section on Human Rights, so there are webinars highlighting the accomplishments of those ICA groups, too.
This anniversary year also gives us a chance to reflect on the valuable connections NARA has made through participation in ICA.
Since there is only one National Archives in the United States, it is always interesting and useful to exchange information with our closest peer organizations, the national archives of other countries. For the last 75 years, ICA has provided a forum to meet these colleagues, learn from each other, and benchmark our activities.
Even outside formal ICA conferences and congresses, the national archives of the world carry on lively conversations via email and occasionally a visit. Just in the last few months, NARA was delighted to host executive delegations from Library and Archives Canada and the National Archives of Japan. We look forward to renewing these connections and many others at the upcoming 2023 ICA Congress in Abu Dhabi.
In addition, we can use this anniversary year to look back on the important leadership role NARA has played in the ICA over the years. You can read more about NARA’s role in the foundation of ICA in the Pieces of History blog post International Archives Day. NARA staff have been active participants in ICA ever since 1948.
ICA’s web timeline includes the second Archivist of the United States, Solon Buck, as an ICA Founder because he proposed and promoted the idea of an international council for archivists. The third, fourth, and fifth Archivists of the U.S.—Wayne Grover, Robert Bahmer, and James Rhoads—all served as president, vice president, or secretary general in the 1960s and 1970s.
In more recent years, NARA Deputy Archivist Lew Bellardo (2008–2012) and External Affairs Liaison Meg Phillips (2021–2025) both served as vice president in charge of ICA’s professional program. Many other NARA staff have contributed their expertise and energy to their international colleagues through the ICA over the years and have learned from them in turn. It is a connection that benefits us all.
For all these reasons, we hope you will join NARA in congratulating the International Council on Archives on its first 75 years of archival collaboration!