The Georgia Archives Institute was founded in 1967 by Carroll Hart, Director of the Georgia Department of Archives and History (1964-1982). Lacking the funds to send staff to the National Archives Institute in Washington, D.C., Ms. Hart brought in prominent archivists to teach archival theory and the role of the modern archivist. She saw the need for basic instruction for beginners in the profession. At first the program was intended for the Georgia Archives staff, but it was soon expanded to include attendees from other institutions. The first official session was in August of 1967, with students traveling around the state visiting repositories, courthouses, and other institutions housing records.
Today, the Georgia Archives Institute is recognized throughout the archival community as one of the primary vehicles through which beginning archivists and students can learn theoretical and practical knowledge of modern archives. Many types and sizes of archival and educational institutions continue to be partners in the Georgia Archives Institute, ensuring that students are exposed to a broad range of perspectives and thus will be adaptable in the workforce.
In 2017, the Georgia Archives Institute received the Society of American Archivists’ Distinguished Service Award at their annual meeting in Atlanta. This prestigious award recognizes an archival institution, education program, nonprofit organization, or government organization that has provided outstanding service to its public and has made an exemplary contribution to the archives profession.
Remembering Brenda Banks [1950-2016]
The archives profession lost an incomparable, valued colleague on July 25 with the passing of Brenda Banks in Atlanta, Georgia. Brenda’s contributions to the profession were significant and far ranging: archival education, diversity in the profession, archival management, and preservation among them. But it was her ability to build consensus, her unending professional generosity, and her engaging sense of humor that colleagues will miss most.
Brenda was a graduate of Spelman College, where she received a BA in History, and she earned a master’s in Library and Information Science with a concentration in archival management from Atlanta University. From that time on Brenda devoted herself to mastering and shaping the archives profession.
She spent much of her career with the Georgia Department of Archives and History, beginning in 1972 as an assistant archivist—the only African-American professional on staff at that time. She held progressively responsible positions there, ultimately becoming Deputy Director of the Georgia Archives, where she was responsible for administering the archives program and served as project manager for the construction of a new 172,000-square-foot state-of-the-art archives facility. After retiring from the Georgia Archives, she established Banks Archives Consultants. Recent projects included working with a range of African-American collections and with architecture firms to develop design elements for archives and other cultural institutions.
Brenda made significant contributions to the archives profession, focusing in particular on archival education. She served as the 51st President of the Society of American Archivists (1995-1996), chaired the SAA Diversity Task Force, and brought her keen insights and hard work to a range of committees. From 1999 to 2005 Brenda administered and coordinated a nationwide archives education and training program for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and as Board chair had a major role in guiding the Georgia Archives Institute, which this year receives SAA’s Distinguished Service Award. As an educator she was responsible for furthering the careers of hundreds of young professionals, many of whom looked to her as a mentor throughout their careers.
Brenda served as president of the Society of Georgia Archivists and on the boards of the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators and the International Council on Archives. Because of her substantive expertise, she was also appointed as a transition team leader for the Clinton Administration to conduct a management review of the National Archives and Records Administration.
Honors include: Fellow of the Society of American Archivists, Governor’s Award in the Humanities, Archives Advocacy Award (Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board), Individual Achievement Award in Archives and Records Management (Georgia Records Association), Society of American Archivists Council Exemplary Service Award, Fellow of the Society of Georgia Archivists, Distinguished Alumnae Award (National Association for Equal Education Opportunity), Alumnae Achievement Award (Spelman College), and Beta Phi Mu. She also was featured in Black Enterprise and Ebony magazines.
Above all, her countless friends will remember and mourn the passing of a spirited colleague who shared generously of her time and knowledge, who could stand her ground with passion but preferred to build consensus instead, and who exemplified the kindness, joy, and humanity that is found in the very best colleagues and friends.
—Prepared by David Carmicheal and Kathleen Roe
Additional links to the history of the Georgia Archives Institute
Brenda Banks, Paul Conway, Nancy Lenoil, and Michael Suarez, The View from Here: Perspectives on Educating About Archives (Session 306). The American Archivist: January 2011, Vol. 74, No. Supplement 1, pp. 1-32.
Matthews, Linda M., “The Georgia Archives Institute and the Training of Archivists, 1967-1989,” Provenance, Journal of the Society of Georgia Archivists 7, no. 3 (1989).