A Call to Action: Preserve SHARE’s Past for the Future

SHARE Archives.jpeg

From SHARE Headquarters

SHARE Past President Anne Caluori is working to collect and catalog important documents from SHARE’s more-than-60 years of history. 

Many of SHARE's long-standing member organizations participated in key working groups, producing white papers, cooperating in technical task forces, and developing presentations that, in retrospect, have influenced the complex computing industry from the 1960's to today. "Many of these members' delegates were involved with foundational work as the industry matured,” she said. “It’s likely that some, if not all, of their papers still exist. We just need to find them.”

Some of SHARE's members read and responded to previous blog features by sending her boxes of content — from whitepapers to technical reports to industry literature. Caluori hopes to keep the project on participants’ radar by providing this update and repeating the invitation for additional members who might have old SHARE documents. She encourages individuals to get in touch with her via archives@share.org before disposing of anything.

For example, last summer Caluori received a dozen boxes of publications dating from the 1960s and 1970s from one of SHARE’s member organizations. These were primarily SHARE proceedings, reports of presentations that were given at SHARE conferences during those years. Sorting through them was a lot like taking a walk down a technical memory lane, she says. These volumes documented technical presentations, roundtable discussions, and informal sessions–in literally hundreds of pages per conference.

One item that particularly stood out was a transcript of a discussion session held March 3, 1972, at SHARE XXXVIII (or SHARE 38, as it was called before the current location-based naming convention). The session was called "Meeting of SHARE Pioneers" and was chaired by Tom Steel, who was then the SHARE Historian, Archivist, Archeologist, Externals Standards Committee Manager, and SHARE Representative to the ANSI X3 Committee. Among the 19 active participants in the meeting were seven SHARE past presidents, several past directors, and perhaps most notably, five men who had participated in the very first SHARE meeting in 1955. Their freewheeling discussion covered SHARE's formation, early years, technical developments, and a number of lighter topics.

Worth having a copy of that paper in the archives?  We certainly think so.

Ready to do your part? Here’s how you can help build the SHARE archive.

Step 1: Send Your Documents to SHARE

SHARE has had success with situations where a vague memory might lead to a discussion and even occasionally locating participants who have moved to other member organizations or retired. "Now and then those discussions lead to an old filing cabinet or a pile of three-ring binders in a dusty closet. The critical part of this project is getting the conversations started and listening to the details about what might have become of those old publications," Caluori says.

“Even folks who don’t think what they did was important probably have committee reports and whitepapers that lay the foundation for people who, today, want to understand how mainframes developed,” she adds. Members can send content to Caluori, or just provide her with a sense of the type of content they have before packing it up for shipping. “One of the best and easiest ways to begin to separate the rarer —and hence more valuable to our archives — materials from the readily available is to simply send photos of the spines of documents and literature they have on their bookshelf,” she says (see below for contact information). This saves the effort and expense of packing up and actually shipping material, while still giving a chance to see what might be available to archive.

Step 2: Tell Us What You Would Be Interested in Seeing

Caluori would love to hear from individuals about the types of content they might be interested in and why. That would give potential user guidance for organizing materials and provide some basic idea of how to best make various types of materials available to SHARE's current members and participants.

For instance, Caluori says that meeting minutes could be helpful to SHARE leadership and senior management, who change roles every few years. During this stage, new leaders are involved in transition meetings, where they learn about past assignments, ongoing projects, and the responsibilities of their role.

Because SHARE was started to meet the education, support, and networking needs of mainframe professionals, there’s a lot to be learned from that long history. Providing easy access to regularly exchanged ideas and influence of the group on the mainframe industry could provide context for core mainframe concepts. It could also help bridge the knowledge gap between experienced mainframe veterans and new programmers in the field.

“As with any archive, we don't know how the data might be used by members in the future, and we can't project how or why a piece of paper might be valuable,” she says. “But we do know for sure that if we don’t capture it today, it will be gone.”

The SHARE Archive is a work in progress, and you can help build it.

If you have a lead on material you think should be in the archive or an idea about questions or research you'd like to pursue through the archives, reach out to Anne Caluori at archive@share.org.

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