Who We Are

History of CoSA

In 1975, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) enacted regulations (36 CFR 1206) requiring each state, territory, and the District of Columbia to establish a State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) in order to fully participate in the NHPRC grant program. Members of the SHRABs are intended to represent the full range of repository types and historical records advocates in each state: state and local governments, universities and colleges (public and private), community-based organizations (historical societies, public libraries, historic sites, museums), genealogists, and professional historians. In turn the SHRABs provide advice and services to an equally broad range of constituents.

Each SHRAB is chaired by the official responsible for the archives of the state or territory (usually the state or territorial archivist), who is designated by the NHPRC regulations to serve as State Coordinator. Individual State Coordinators serve in this capacity without remuneration from the Commission for the benefit of historical records programs within their states. Likewise SHRABs are also composed of volunteer members who serve without compensation.

Council of State Historical Records Coordinators

Through the 1980s, the State Coordinators as a group were loosely connected through a steering committee that worked with NHPRC staff and helped conduct occasional meetings. In 1989 they formally organized as the Council of State Historical Records Coordinators (COSHRC) prompted, in part, by a desire to have a voice in determining NHPRC’s funding priorities. The State Coordinators developed their first Mission Statement in 1989 which emphasized COSHRC’s strong connection to NHPRC.

COSHRC began holding regular annual and midyear meetings in the early 1990s and undertook a succession of needs assessments and other projects during the ensuing decade. Most of COSHRC’s meetings and project work, to date, has been funded by grants from NHPRC. The data gathered and evaluated during these projects has served the ends of both NHPRC and COSHRC. NHPRC needed the data to respond to its own stated mission to report periodically on the “state of the American record.” The findings also helped the State Coordinators identify the many concerns that cross state lines and recognize that solutions developed in one state could be fruitfully adopted and applied in many others.

COSHRC Becomes a 501(c)(3) Organization

At their 2001 annual meeting, COSHRC members voted to incorporate as a nonprofit organization. COSHRC was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in May 2002 and received a letter of determination from the IRS confirming COSHRC's status as a 501(c)(3) organization in March 2003.

COSHRC members adopted a new Mission Statement and Strategic Plan in July 2003 emphasizing the organization's interest in advocacy and collaboration. It was updated in February 2004, July 2007, and again in October 2014.


In July 2005, the members voted to change the name of the organization to the Council of State Archivists (CoSA). The new, more descriptive name has helped the Council with its increasingly visible work in outreach and advocacy. 


CoSA’s education and advocacy programs rely on data about the state archives community to underpin funding proposals and awareness building. CoSA is seen as the source of reliable information about state archives and is sought out by national and state stakeholders for it. CoSA uses the strength of collaboration and partnership to leverage resources, share expertise, and to solve problems.


CoSA’s education and training programs respond to member needs and focus on improving state archival programs, no matter their size or level of operation. Noteworthy among them is the flagship State Electronic Records Initiative (SERI). Smaller-scale education and networking occurs in annual meetings, monthly member and SERI webinars, affinity group exchanges, the Awards Program, and the monthly newsletter. Collaboration and partnership allow CoSA to pursue critical issues, share information widely, and highlight the good work of colleagues in the field.


CoSA advances the needs of its members to a variety of stakeholders and the public by acting as a clearinghouse for information, participating in policy and funding discussions, developing advocacy and awareness messages, and working in partnership with counterparts in allied organizations. CoSA uses the strength of collaboration and partnership to amplify issues and leverage resources. CoSA works collaboratively with the Joint Working Group on Issues and Awareness, comprised of representatives from CoSA, SAA, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), and the Regional Archival Associations Consortiums (RAAC). All position statements, issue briefs, and CoSA’s Advocacy agenda are available on our website.

The Power of State Archives: Documenting Government | Promoting History | Securing Rights

  • Shaping the shared sense of national, state, and individual identity that creates the framework for our democracy and accountability, gives people a frame of reference for their place in society, and helps them to understand how their location, community, and family have developed.
  • Providing a stimulating environment for documenting government and promoting history that nourishes an interest in people, places, and our shared histories and experiences.
  • Sourcing evidence that demonstrates the integrity and judgement of public decisions and actions, which lasts longer and is more reliable than individual memory. Archives thus support evidence-based and data-driven policy-making and accountability and have an impact on the lives of individuals by providing authentic and reliable evidence of past actions.