Fellow: Elizabeth Myers

Elizabeth “Beth” Myers, director of Special Collections at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, 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.

A dedicated archival advocate, collaborator, and mentor, Myers has held expanding leadership roles throughout her career. After earning an MA and PhD in United States history from Loyola University, Chicago, Myers became the director of the university’s Women and Leadership Archives in 2006. She provided archival services, oversaw graduate assistants and volunteers, and made significant technological improvements to the archives. In 2012, Myers moved to the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University, where she directed a staff of eighteen, oversaw the administrative integration of the archives into the libraries, and raised $140,000 through grants and gifts. In 2014, Myers became director of Special Collections at Smith College. She oversaw the merger of three special collections repositories, and individually and as part of a team raised more than $4 million to support operations, including a three-year Access to Collections project to make special collections materials more accessible.

In addition, Myers has a long history of mentorship and advocacy for her colleagues. For six years she served on the Archives Leadership Institute Steering Committee, where she mentored hundreds of participants with her unique combination of intelligence and humor. A sought-after presenter and educator, Myers has given dozens of presentations on archival management, collection development, women’s archival collections, and equitable hiring practices and compensation in the profession. Her talks demonstrate the depth of her thinking about archives and push archivists to take steps to make more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces.

Within SAA, Myers chairs the working group for A*CENSUS II, a critical and nationwide survey, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services that will establish a baseline of information about archivists’ demographics, education, and professional development needs. The survey will inform decision making in the profession for years to come. In addition, Myers serves on the Board of the SAA Foundation, which provides funding to enhance the work of the archival profession, and works with the Development Committee to create new avenues of support for the Foundation. She previously served on the Steering Committee for the Women Archivists Roundtable and is a contributor the book Perspectives on Women’s Archives, edited by Tanya Zanish-Belcher and Anke Voss (SAA, 2013).

One of Myers’s supporters writes: “Her leadership of collections that focus on historically under-documented groups speaks to her commitment to social justice, as well as a rigorous dedication to the quality, depth, and variety of historical materials available, and a respect for the construction of a multidimensional and inclusive community memory.” Another adds: “Her contributions to our profession show initiative, resourcefulness, and commitment, and this is because she is a leader in our profession—a person who takes care of others and of the larger world.” 

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