The Local Officer’s Handbook

I recently came across a mention of a “Local Officer’s Handbook,” buried in the depths of the Society Seneschal’s Handbook, but wasn’t able to locate a copy online.

Out of curiosity, I ordered a copy from the SCA Marketplace, and will keep an eye on my mailbox to see what arrives.

When I wrote to Society leadership for additional information, I was told that this handbook was out of date and would need to be reviewed and revised before it could be made available again. (See below for the email exchange.)

Without examining it, it’s hard to know what it contains, but perhaps it is one of the exchequers’ manuals, given this entry in the Board minutes from April 2006:

IV. B. Chancellor of the Exchequer Local Officer’s Handbook

Motion by Tom Hughes to approve the Chancellor of the Exchequer Local Officer’s Handbook as presented. Seconded by Jeff Brown. In favor: Jeff Brown, Dena Cady, Heather English, Tom Hughes, Shawn Reed. Gabrielle Underwood. Opposed: none. Motion carried.

Minutes of the Quarterly Meeting of the Board of Directors of The Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. April 22, 2006

There doesn’t seem to have been much if any public discussion of this handbook over the last decade and a half, which leaves me curious about its status — if it requires Board approval to make a handbook official, after which it becomes binding policy of the Society which people can be sanctioned for failing to follow, is Board action also required to decommission a handbook when it falls out of date?


[Update, May 8:] Well, to my surprise, a paper copy of the handbook showed up in my mailbox today. The link to order copies from the SCA Marketplace has now been disabled, so I’m likely holding the last copy of this version of the handbook, and perhaps the only copy to have been distributed in many years.

Rather than focusing on the responsibility of any specific office, this is a lovely introductory guide for folks who are (or are considering) serving as a branch officer in any of our “departments.” It does not impose any official policies, although it does mention a few set out elsewhere — and it is full of useful suggestions and tips for how to think about the role of local officers.

The foreword explains that it was first proposed in 1991, and drafted by Alison von Markheim, Addison Looney, and Hilary of Serendip, but then got sidelined and left unpublished for nearly a decade. After someone found an old draft and asked for more copies, it was dusted off and completed by Elasait ingen Diarmata and formally approved by the Board in July 2000. (The copyright date of 2001 might reflect additional time required for typesetting or other production processes.) Amusingly, twenty-two years later, Baroness Elasait is now the Society Seneschal, who I cc’d on my original email about the handbook!

Give its age, it’s held up remarkably well, and aside from a few minor tweaks (we no longer have a Chirurgeon’s office, and have now established a Webministry) it seems like this could be put back into circulation nearly unchanged. I’ve emailed a message with my hope that the updated version does indeed get re-published soon.

From: Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin
To: Society Publications Manager, Society Webfolks
Cc: Society Seneschal

Date: April 19, 2023


Is the Local Officer’s Handbook available online?

The Society’s Seneschal Handbook mentions it in paragraph XXIV.A.3.b:

Make sure they have access to SCA Corporate documents and handbooks. Kingdom Law, the SCA Governing Documents (and affiliate governing documents where applicable), the Known World Handbook, and the Local Officer’s Handbook are extremely important tools, and the more information and documentation you can provide, the more effective local organizers can become.

I am unable to find it on the  website, although it is apparently available from the SCA Marketplace for $5.00:

Are people allowed to access this document for free, or must they purchase printed copies by mail?

Thank you for your service,

— Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin

From: Society Publications Manager
To: Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin
Date: April 19, 2023

The Handbook in question is under review, thanks to you calling attention to it.  Thank you! 

It seems to have hidden in the shadows and will now be reviewed, revised, and join the other documents  There is no current digital version of the handbook to share, and it would be out if date if we had one.

Thank you again for calling this matter to our attention.

From: Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin
To: Society Publications Manager
Cc: Society Sceneschal
Date: May 8, 2023

Given your comments above, I assumed that the order for a paper copy that I had placed  before emailing you was going to returned or cancelled, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it sitting in my mailbox this morning.

I understand that there are a few minor things that need to be updated — eg the references to the Chirurgeons, and the lack of mention of the Webministry — but overall this is a fantastic document and it would be wonderful to get it back into circulation… I wish it had been more easily available back when I was getting started in the twenty-teens and had to figure a bunch of this stuff out for myself!

If there is anything I can do to assist with getting this updated and re-released, please do not hesitate to let me know.

In service,

— Mathghamhain

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