The Society for Commercial Archeology Records

The SCA collection in 2017. Further material was processed in February 2018.

The Society for Commercial Archeology records documents the business and activities of the organization. Located at the Alexander Architectural Archives at The University of Texas at Austin, the collection measures at roughly 14.17 linear feet, over 1000 photographic materials, 5 posters, 2 shirts, and various types of electronic material. The material covers the administrative aspect of the organization including board minutes, correspondence, membership, and the planning of conferences. The collection also includes an extensive catalog of the organization’s publications. The posters, shirts, and a few of the electronic media relate to SCA conferences.

Among the many interesting facets of the collection is how it was constructed. Given the size of the organization, there is no national office that can handle the records of the organization in one formal location. The SCA collection is constructed from the records of various SCA members, most of which were former board members. If you have any relevant SCA material, please consider donating them to the SCA collection!

The focus of the organization as one “devoted to the buildings, artifacts, structures, signs, and symbols of the 20th century commercial landscape” is truly represented in the collection. There is a vast amount of material related to roadside architecture, neon signs, gas stations, diners, fast food, and various other topics related to the 20th century commercial landscape. Much of this is reflected in the reference files and materials submitted for publication. Lastly, one of the most interesting aspects of the SCA collection is in its documentation of the history of a nonprofit organization. The administrative materials reveal how the organization has evolved during its 40 years of existence. If anyone is interested in learning more about decisions made in the 1980s, there are minutes available. There are also several slides from previous tours and SCA’s 10th anniversary party in Boston. As we move forward, it is important to document the past.

A large portion of my work in processing the collection involved creating the SCA finding aid. I highly advice anyone interested conducting research to look it over. You will find a brief history of the organization, a scope and content note and a detailed inventory of the collection. There are also two supplements available, one is a list of previous board members and another is a list of conferences.

If you are interested in conducting research, please contact Nancy Sparrow, Public Services Assistant, at nsparrow@austin.utexas.edu. If you are interested in donating material to the SCA collection or providing monetary support for its stewardship, please contact Beth Dodd, curator of the Alexander Architectural Archives, at dodd.beth@austin.utexas.edu.

– Irene Lule