The Ellis Archive is Now Available

By Betsy McFarland

We are pleased to share news from the Susan J. Ellis Foundation. As of this month, the Ellis Archive website has been launched. The archive primarily consists of digitized documents from Susan J. Ellis' personal resource library. Focused on Susan’s passion -- the professional leadership of volunteers – the documents extend from the mid-1940’s –1990’s.

The archive contains an extensive, searchable database of the digitized documents where you can search by title, source, year, author, and keyword topic. Special tags also exist for Research, Non-US/International, and AVA history items.

For those of you who would like a quick view of the evolution of the field, take a look at the Milestones Timeline. The timeline depicts a chronological progression of pivotal events and trends that influenced the work of volunteer engagement professionals during the 20th century, with links to specific documents in the database. While it is by no means all-inclusive, the Milestones Timeline can be a useful a starting point for tracing the path of this profession.

Special thanks go to Katie Campbell who has been tirelessly sorting and scanning these documents and adding them to a database. Katie will continue to support the archive as we add other materials Susan owned, including journals and digitized books for which the Archives has received permission from the publishers to share. The Foundation is also considering adding materials owned by other significant leaders in the field.

On the website, Katie shared these words about the archive: 

“Susan J. Ellis had an insatiable thirst for information. I first witnessed this in the early 1970s when, as a young professional, she was assigned the task of starting a volunteer program. The body of knowledge in this field was very limited, she had no training in exactly how to go about this work, and she eagerly sought out individuals and resources to educate herself. As she connected with others across the United States, Susan quickly realized that many were struggling to learn about how to lead and manage volunteers effectively. Her personal “resource library” grew steadily as she collected relevant information and generously shared it with colleagues, however and whenever possible. After starting her consulting and training business called Energize, Inc. in 1977, Susan’s reach expanded beyond the U.S. The knowledge she possessed was disseminated widely, even as she continued to gather materials and learn more from the colleagues she met during her international travel.    

“By the time the world wide web was launched, the Energize Resource Library had grown to several file cabinets and shelves of paper – sample materials, books, articles, and journals. All were catalogued and filed by topic, and available to anyone who wished to visit Susan’s Philadelphia office. Of course, the Internet fueled Susan’s love of learning and connecting with others in our field, but she never stopped valuing the “hard copy” information contained in that early collection. She continued to add paper copies of many volunteer program materials and publications, and often referenced the timeless principles from earlier decades in her workshops and writing.    

“Susan’s career in volunteer engagement paralleled the evolution of this field – and significantly propelled it forward. She possessed a remarkable ability to find and capture anything and everything that had even the slightest connection to the field about which she was so passionate. Her influence as a teacher, mentor, advocate, author, and vocal thought-leader was immense. The Ellis Archive honors Susan’s legacy and fulfills her final wish that her collection of information and materials continue to be accessible to current and future practitioners and researchers. She understood that professional history has many lessons to teach us in our own age, and passionately believed ‘we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.’”

Visit the Ellis Archive







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