A*CENSUS (Archival Census and Education Needs Survey in the United States), 2004 (ICPSR 4265)

Published: Aug 18, 2005

Principal Investigator(s):
Society of American Archivists; A*CENSUS Principal Research Consultant


Version V1

The A*CENSUS, the first comprehensive survey of individuals in the archival profession since 1982, was designed to collect baseline demographic data on archivists in the workforce in the United States, identify the knowledge and skills archivists need to do their jobs and adapt to future demands, and gauge the capacity of graduate and continuing education programs to deliver the necessary knowledge and skills. Detailed information was collected from all respondents in the following subject areas: basic demographic information (age, gender, race/ethnicity), employment (full/part-time, average hours per week, type of employer, years employed, functions), education (degrees, majors, years awarded), training and continuing education (sources, delivery formats and methods, support from employer for obtaining, barriers to obtaining, topical priorities), career paths (impetus for first archival job, careers prior to entering archival work, plans to leave archival work including retirement), professional association affiliation (membership in archival and other associations, support from employer for participation, impetus for joining), leadership/professional involvement (conference attendance, presentations, publications authored, teaching experience, leadership positions in archival and nonarchival organizations, strength of ties to archival profession), and issues of greatest importance.

Society of American Archivists, and A*CENSUS Principal Research Consultant. A*CENSUS (Archival Census and Education Needs Survey in the United States), 2004. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2005-08-18. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR04265.v1

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Institute of Museum and Library Services (RE-04-03-0062-03)

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research


2004-04-21 -- 2004-07-01

All open-ended data were either coded or excluded for confidentiality reasons.

Responses to QA1-QA35 (questions for members of specific organizations, such as the Midwest Archives Conference) and M2a-M26 (questions for archival managers) have not been included with the dataset.

A census of 11,841 unduplicated names from the membership lists of all known archival professional associations in the United States, lists of professional employees of the principal government archival institutions at the national and state levels, and participants in the principal United States archival continuing education programs between 2000 and 2004. Membership lists from 59 national, regional, state, and local archival associations in the United States provided 16,581 separate entries. In addition, the National Archives and Records Administration supplied a list of 707 staff members in the Archivist (GS-1420) job series and in grades 9 and above in the Archives Specialist (GS-1421) job series. The state archives submitted lists of 264 staff members and 790 other individuals who were on their mailing lists. Also included were 299 participants in the Modern Archives Institute and Western Archives Institutes in 2002-2004, 59 participants in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Archives Training Institute, 110 respondents to a 2000 survey on archival continuing education, and 33 self-nominated individuals. In an effort to reach those caring for Native American collections, the survey contacted 512 individuals who attended two conferences on tribal libraries and archives and everyone on the contact lists for the Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs) and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Of the 19,355 names combined from all of the above sources, 11,939 were found to be unduplicated. Of the 11,939 unduplicated individuals, 98 were deemed ineligible because they indicated that they were no longer working in archives or they were deceased, which made for a total of 11,841 unduplicated names. In addition to those identified and contacted through membership, employee, and continuing education lists, individuals were allowed to "self-identify" and complete the survey even if they were not directly contacted by the A*CENSUS.

Every person who was being paid to work with archives and historical records in the United States.

survey data

mail questionnaire

Web-based survey

Of the 11,841 unduplicated individuals invited to complete the survey, 4,823 responded online and 605 responded by mail, yielding a response rate of 45.8 percent. An additional 192 individuals self-identified and responded, and are not included in the 45.8 percent response rate.



2005-08-18 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

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