On June 23, 1972, a meeting organized by Mary Boccaccio, Frank Evans, and Elsie Freivogel was held in the Katherine Anne Porter Room of McKeldin Library at the College Park campus of the University of Maryland. It attracted thirty-three archivists; the agenda as the possible formation of what eventually became MARAC -- the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference. By the end of calendar year 1972 this fledgling organization had held its first semi-annual meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, attracting one hundred and fifty archivists and manuscript curators who paid a modest registration fee of $6.00. Also during 1972 MARAC published the first issue of the Mid-Atlantic Archivist (MAA) and enjoyed a healthy first-year budget of nearly two thousand dollars. Within three years the Conference had held six meetings in five different states throughout the mid-Atlantic region -- from Newark, New Jersey to Charlottesville, Virginia.

What were the factors that led to the successful development of this regional organization? By all accounts it was at least partially the result of a perception held by many that the Society of American Archivists was not adequately addressing the needs of less-experienced professionals, staff from small repositories, and archival issues below the national level. Certainly the opportunity to discuss regional archival developments and to meet local colleagues proved attractive. MARAC's beginnings paralleled archival developments in other areas of the United States during the early 1970s: six regional organizations, including the New England Archivists, the Midwest Archives Conference, the Northwest Archivists, and the Society of Southwest Archivists were also formed in 1972. MARAC demonstrated its desire to develop programs and services on its own, rejecting any official affiliation with the SAA and returning a $100.00 "seed money" stipend that had been contributed by the SAA to MARAC. It sought to attract members from the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The initial purposes of the group were to plan practical action-oriented conferences and workshops and to seek additional means of increasing professional competence, preserving local historical resources, and promoting cooperation with colleagues in related fields. Semi-annual meetings have continued to be a major focus of MARAC's activities from 1972 to the present. These meetings have offered a wide range of workshops and tours designed to appeal to a broad cross-section of the membership-from beginning archivists to experienced professionals and staff from both small and large repositories. To an increasing degree sessions at the meetings are designed to relate to an overall theme. Two thematic meetings resulted in the publication of two archival symposia papers, Constitutional Issues and Archives and Automation in Archives.

MARAC members have developed a vigorous publications program. Publishing of the Mid-Atlantic Archivist (MAA) has become a quarterly event with issues having grown from four pages in 1972 to twenty to thirty-two. Technical leaflets providing guidance on processing issues and administrative decisions have been published, first as inserts in MAA and later as separate issues. Membership directories have been regularly compiled and several occasional papers have been issued, including Paul Mucci's Paper and Leather Conservation: A Manual, Guidelines for Archives and Manuscript Repositories, and Charlene Bickford's The Coalition to Save Our Documentary Heritage.

Adapted and condensed from MARAC history written by Lauren Brown and Anne Turkos, November 1987, published in the Mid-Atlantic Archivist.