Fellow: Edward “Ted” Ryan

Edward “Ted” Ryan, archives and heritage brand manager for the Ford Motor Company, will be inducted as a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) during a ceremony at the SAA Annual Meeting. The distinction of Fellow is the highest honor bestowed on individuals by SAA and is awarded for outstanding contributions to the archives profession.

An innovative and resourceful thinker, Ryan earned his bachelor’s from Emory University and did extensive archival and historical classwork towards a master’s degree at Georgia State University before beginning his career at the Atlanta History Center. As manager of special projects, Ryan proposed a public/nonprofit collaboration between WPBA and the Atlanta History Center, resulting in the Emmy award-winning documentary Southern Bases. From there, Ryan established the Atlanta Braves Museum at Turner Field, curated the Bobby Jones Golf Collection, and created the Atlanta History Center’s first website. In 1997, Ryan began a twenty-one-year career with The Coca-Cola Company, culminating in his appointment as the archives director. There, he continued to pursue outside-the-box solutions and collaborations. He spearheaded efforts to donate the company’s body of advertising materials—consisting of more than 25,000 historical ads—to the Library of Congress. This program was so successful that he expanded it to the United Kingdom to donate materials to the British Film Institute. Ryan also launched a large art installation in 2015 at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta entitled “The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100,” as well as established two traveling exhibits which toured more than fifteen countries and were visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors. After twenty-one years with The Coca-Cola Company, Ryan became the archives and heritage brand manager for the Ford Motor Company, where he continues to use his resourceful thinking to position Ford’s heritage in modern and engaging ways.

As a corporate archivist, Ryan has contributed extensively to the archives profession through writing, leadership, and advocacy for business archives. He has written numerous articles for scholarly publications such as Provenance, the Journal of Digital Asset Management, and Business Archives: An International Comparison, as well as presented widely at events like the SAA Annual Meeting, the SAA Business Archives Section Colloquium, and the International Council on Archives Section for Business Archives meeting. In 2019, Ryan became the only archivist on the Darden Leadership Communication Council at the University of Virginia. He has served as a media liaison for The Coca-Cola Company and the Ford Motor Company, where he was the inspiration for the archivist character in the mockumentary John Bronco.

As a member of SAA since the early 1990s, Ryan has also helped to shape the Society and its members. He has attended nearly every SAA Annual Meeting since 1998, where he’s given a number of well-received presentations. He has chaired the Business Archives Section while simultaneously serving the larger SAA community as the liaison to the Association for Intelligent Information Management from 2005 to 2006. He began mentoring with SAA in 2017 and has worked with four mentees to date. One of his mentees writes how “Ryan helped me regain my confidence . . . to promote my team, my collection, and myself in this new world.” 

Of Ryan, former archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero writes, “His research, writing, teaching, and speaking demonstrate his commitment to the profession—sharing his experience and expertise in the development of the next generation of corporate archivists. And Ryan’s media ‘performances’ shed new light on the role of archivists to the general public.” In reference to his dedication to SAA, another recommender adds, “Ryan’s work demonstrates not only commitment but also passion for the work of SAA. His stewardship, teaching, and celebration of corporate archives are unsurpassed and have served as a model for those coming into the profession, especially those in corporate archives and libraries.”

Ryan is one of six new Fellows named in 2022. There are currently 195 Fellows of the Society of American Archivists.