The National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA) is a professional association dedicated to the improvement of federal, state, and local government records and information management and the professional development of government records administrators and archivists.  Members include county, municipal, and special district governments, state agencies (state records centers, archives and libraries), the National Archives and Records Administration; individual federal employees; the General Archives of Puerto Rico; and a number of provincial and institutional programs.

The National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA) grew from the National Association of State Archives and Records Administrators (NASARA), founded in 1974 “to promote awareness and understanding of state archival and records management programs, to encourage and facilitate exchange of information among state archival and records management agencies, to develop and improve professional standards of government records and archives administration, and to encourage study and research into the problems and concerns of public records administrators.”[1]  To a great extent, the founding of NASARA sprung from the belief that neither the Society of American Archivists (SAA) nor the Association of Record Managers and Administrators (ARMA) was speaking for government archives and records programs, in particular for state programs.  Archives (SAA) and records (ARMA) were split, and the states wanted an organization where both archives and records management could be represented.

By 1977, NASARA had acknowledged the importance of the federal-state records relationship, [2]  and in 1982 the organization issued a statement on “Principles for Local Government Records” thereby recognizing local government records as one of its major concerns.[3]  Finally, in 1984, NASARA completed its evolution into NAGARA in recognition that all three levels of government – local, state and federal – had issues in common and, therefore, should be part of one association.

Originally, NASARA “was structured to admit five members at an administrative level from each state archives or records management program.”[4]  NAGARA retained the institution-based membership model that NASARA had used, though an individual-membership category was made available. NAGARA’s leadership after the 1984 transformation remained primarily state archivists.  In the mid-1990’s, however, the election of the first non-state archivist as president of the association, was later followed by a federal records official as president in 2000 and then a local government official as president in 2002.  This stirred NAGARA’s center point from its previous, state-based roots.  Today, NAGARA’s Board of Directors includes two federal government archives and/or records administrators; two state government archives and/or records administrators, two local government archives and/or records administrators; and one director who represents “other institutions” or individual members.  The officers of the association (President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary) may be elected from any level of government.

The association’s first strategic plan that outlined purpose, goals and actions was developed in 1992 – 1993.  However, the association did issue statements of principles prior to 1992 and has published similar statements – as well as formal strategic plans – since that date.

[1] Dearstyne, Bruce W. “Principles for Local Government Records: A Statement of the National Association of State Archives and Records Administrators.” American Archivist (Fall 1983).  452 – 457.
[2] See 1977’s “Toward the Development of Standards”:  “…to represent the member States in matters of mutual or national interest in areas of archives and records management, especially those involving Federal-State relationships.”
[3] Dearstyne.
[4] Burke, Frank G.  “The Beginnings of the NHPRC Records Program.” American Archivist.  Summer/Spring 2000. Vol. 63. 34.