Creating a “First Response” to Answer Research Inquiries

One of the unexpected privileges of serving as the MBAA Heritage Chair includes assisting organizations and individuals with their research inquiries. In my two years on the job, I have had university students, Ph.D. candidates, scholars, writers, and family genealogists contact MBAA or me personally with a wide range of research requests. We are primarily a technical organization. But the fact of our enduring 127-year history and our unique organizational structure that includes 23 local geographical districts stretching across the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean, makes MBAA a go-to resource for such scholarly inquiries.

These ongoing requests for information comprise a significant portion of this job, challenging me to better understand exactly what we have in our records housed in St. Paul (not to be confused with our archives housed at Iowa State University). And they are frequent enough that to properly manage them, I want to create an organized "first response" that would include an action plan involving a sequence of steps that hopefully sets a path toward obtaining the information being requested. The action plan would include:

  1. Contacting all members of the Heritage Committee and sharing the request for information with them for any possible input that they might be able to offer.
  2. Contacting the appropriate MBAA local district, if applicable, for possible information from their archived records or from some knowledgeable individual member.
  3. Contacting MBAA Headquarters to see if the requested information might be available within a category of records maintained there.
  4. Posting a summary of the request in the Heritage portion of our monthly Communicator.
  5. Posting a summary of the requested information in a conspicuous spot on our MBAA website.

Perhaps this first step to reach for some form of organized response will allow us to better assist researchers in their quest for all-important, scholarly information. Let me know if you have any additional considerations that might be helpful.

Rick Seemueller