About 1980, the Rare and Manuscript Collections of Cornell University Library became the official repository for the records and papers of what is now the Regional Science Association International. At that time, the Library had accumulated a noteworthy collection of papers of early academic urban planners and architects. The Regional Science Archives were established as an extension of this activity through the efforts of Professor Barclay G. Jones of Cornell's Department of City and Regional Planning. Hence, Professor Jones was the Founding Archivist of the RSAI.
Presently, the Regional Science Archives consists mainly of the collected papers of Professors Walter Isard and Barclay Jones. Professor Isard donated about 100 cubic feet of material to the Archives when he moved to Cornell University in 1979. Professor Jones's papers consisting of about 42 cubic feet were transferred to the Archives following his death in May 1997. In addition to these collections, smaller research files have been contributed by several past presidents of the Association.
Since becoming the Archivist of the RSAI in January 1998, I have worked with the staff of the Rare and Manuscript Collections to define appropriate and realistic long-term objectives for the Regional Science Archives. The following objectives for the Regional Science Archives were discussed and endorsed by the RSAI Council at Montreal on November 11, 1999:
- collect, organize and preserve materials pertaining to the founding, development and influence of the Regional Science Association International (newsletters, conference programs and abstracts, financial reports, directories, etc.).
- advise individual regional scientists on placing their papers in appropriate archives; for academics, the likely archival repository is their own university archives; for practitioners, local and regional historical societies may have an interest in preserving examples of their work; similarly, academic programs in regional science should preserve materials in their own university archives.
- advise individuals concerning what materials are worth preserving in archives; generally, published books and articles available in library collections are not placed in archives; however, other printed items of a more temporary nature such as course outlines, printed notes, and significant correspondence is appropriate for archiving. While original manuscripts of the most noteworthy publications are potentially interesting, in general original manuscripts and revised manuscripts may not be suitable for archiving. It helps greatly if the materials are in good order and well labeled. Likewise, it is desirable for someone who understands manuscript materials to sort through the papers and weed them, if appropriate.
Inquiries from individuals and academic programs should be directed to me at the address given below. I will attempt to offer advice, after consulting with the Curator of Rare and Manuscript Collections of Cornell University Library.
The utility of the Regional Science Archives for historical research depends partly on the financial resources available for acquiring, appraising, organizing, describing and preserving the collection. Contributions to the Cornell University Library in support of these functions, perhaps as a memorial to Professor Barclay Jones, are welcome.
From my brief experience, I have learned that the public perceives the Archivist as a general resource for historical and reference information about Regional Science. I do routinely receive requests concerning the whereabouts of published and unpublished papers in our field, and I do my best to be helpful. However, as can be seen from the above discussion, this activity is not the main function of the Archivist.
From my personal interest and knowledge, nevertheless, I am attempting to collect historical materials about our field, and to answer questions that may arise. I welcome donations of old RSA newsletters and related early materials in support of this function. I am also making a modest attempt to conduct tape-recorded interviews of some of our senior scholars, especially in my own field of research. I encourage others to do likewise.
I welcome your suggestions and inquiries. Please remember that my position is a volunteer one, and that I work under the same constraints of time and energy as you do.