With contributions from:
Eric H. Cline, Washington DC Society
Melissa Morison, Central and Western Michigan Society
Melva Price, Jacksonville Society
Jeremy Rossiter, Edmonton Society
Nancy Scott, Jacksonville Society
Founding a New Society
Maintaining Active Status
An AIA Society is a collection of geographically proximate AIA members who form a formally recognized local group affiliated with the AIA to promote and advance the Institute’s mission in their local community. Societies support the outreach and educational goals of the AIA, and maintain national programs, like lectures and International Archaeology Day. The first Local Society was established in Boston in 1884. Today, the AIA has 108 chartered Local Societies and several more in formation. Societies’ membership includes both professional archaeologists and non-archaeologists and reflects the Institute’s unique character as an organization that welcomes both professionals and interested avocational members.
Society organization, activities, and programs vary considerably depending on size, location, and available resources. The AIA website, www.archaeological.org/societies, lists all of the Local Societies and provides contact information for each one. Many societies maintain their own website and/or Facebook page and links to these are also provided on the AIA website. Checking a Local Society’s website is an easy way to keep abreast of what societies are doing and how they are organized.
Membership in a society is assigned when a person joins the AIA at the supporting member level and is based on geographical proximity. Local Societies enable AIA members to participate directly in the programs of the Institute and to communicate with the national organization and other like-minded people in their communities.
Each Local Society is managed by a board of elected officers who are responsible for various aspects of its operations. The organization of these boards and their overall composition, however, may vary. In some societies, the majority of the members are avocational, while others are largely comprised of professional members. While each society is different, the information herein should be useful to all and we encourage you to contact the AIA office in Boston with any questions. It may also be helpful to view the annual Society Assessment to learn more about society structures and best practices.
To be chartered as an AIA Local Society your local group must have at least 50 AIA members who agree to be a part of the new Society.
Steps to forming a society:
Despite these efforts, you may still need to recruit a few more people to reach the threshold of 50 members. There are several things that could help with this:
One of the keys to successfully starting and maintain a Society is having a consistent meeting/lecture place—at a university or college, museum, church or synagogue, or other large hall—which can hold at least 100 people and to which people will become accustomed. The venue should be ADA accessible and have audio-visual equipment. Be sure to provide information about parking options—if the parking will not be free, it is important to be upfront about that and provide alternative suggestions. At the meetings, have plenty of membership brochures on hand and have someone ready to explain membership benefits, etc. As noted above, brochures can be obtained from the AIA office in Boston.
Write yet one more version of the “invitation letter,” to be sent out to any interested parties who may hear about the new society after the initial formation is already in progress.
The following policies were adopted by the Executive Committee at its April 26, 1980 meeting and approved by the Council at its December 28, 1980 meeting (Bulletin, vol. 72).
A chartered AIA society should try to maintain at least 50 members to ensure continued viability. We realize that membership numbers fluctuate over time, and therefore accept 35 as the minimum necessary to maintain active status, with the idea that the society is working on rebuilding membership levels back to 50. Societies will be urged to maintain an active membership of no less than 35 in order to remain in good standing. Societies below 35 can work with the AIA office in Boston to find ways to increase their membership.
An active membership shall have the following rights, privileges, and obligations:
Society officers will be notified if the society’s membership level drops below 25 and will be encouraged to work with the AIA office and/or the Societies Committee to increase membership.
If a society’s membership falls to 10 or below and remains at that level for 12 consecutive months, the society will be considered INACTIVE.
AIA Local Societies are the lifeblood of the Institute. They provide AIA members with a local community and network of individuals with a passion for archaeology. They carry on the mission of the AIA to inform people about archaeology. They maintain national AIA programs and support the outreach efforts of the AIA. Many Societies have their own local programs that support local archaeology and archaeologists. They communicate local concerns to the national office and represent local communities at the AIA Council meeting. They provide candidates for AIA leadership and governance roles. They enhance the visibility of the AIA and help the Institute fulfill its goals of creating a more archaeologically informed public.
The AIA is North America's largest and oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to archaeology. The Institute advances awareness, education, fieldwork, preservation, publication, and research of archaeological sites and cultural heritage throughout the world. Your contribution makes a difference.