Every so often I find myself
going down what my wife calls an Internet rat hole. I come up with a question and start digging,
find something cool, then cooler, and then I’m wondering how I got here. This one started with discovering that AIIM
started as the National Microfilm Association.
What I found was interesting.
I found a
post on Digital Landfill from back in 2013 that talked about the history of
AIIM and the National Microfilm Association that started in 1950. I thought it would be fun to look back to the
The Document that Started it All
The idea that would become AIIM started
in 1944. Franklin M
Morgan, of Graphic Microfilm Services, sent a letter to four other microfilm
service companies to propose founding a trade association. The result was the formation of the National
Microfilm Association (NMA). Morgan
became the first president but resigned in October 1945. Eugene Power, the first vice-president, followed
as president. Still, Power is often cited
as being the first president.
NMA started in 1944 with 17
charter companies. Many are still around
today; Bausch and Lomb, Diebold, and American Optical Company. NMA held its first convention in March 1945
in Cleveland, Ohio.
Let’s put this in
perspective. NMA was founded during
World War II and had its first meeting before the end of the war. In
fact, Power worked to microfilm rare books in the British archives and sent
microfilmed intelligence back to the U.S. during the war. Morgan
had been a microfilm consultant to the Signal Corps Photographic Center. Vernon
Dale Tate, who would become secretary of NMA, had been assigned to the Office
of Strategic Services.
Tate was secretary of NMA from
1946 to 1948 and in 1952 became Executive Secretary where he remained until
1973. Tate had worked for the Library of
Congress and was Director of the National Archives. He was head librarian at MIT during most of
his time with NMA. Tate was a strong
proponent of NMA and micrographic technology.
Power and Tate were key
individuals in keeping NMA together during its decline from 1947 to 1951. NMA
was revitalized in February 1952 after a meeting at the Library of Congress. One hundred delegates from 35 organizations
involved in microfilm were in attendance.
That’s double the original 17 charter companies. From
here, the Digital Landfill post takes the story.
Special Thanks a.k.a. Bibliography
not have been able to find most of this information if it wasn’t for Vernon
Dale Tate maintaining an archive for the NMA.
archives are now in the University of Michigan Library and part of a Microfilm
Pioneers Collection. I also found some
information from American Archivist, the publication of the Society of American Archivists. Maybe someday I’ll find myself near the
University of Michigan and try to get a look at the letter that started it all.
Marko Sillanpaa, ECMp, SMGp#NMA #history