SAA Remembers William L. Joyce

SAA Fellow, past president, and bibliophile William L. Joyce, 79, passed away on June 6, 2021, after a lengthy battle with cancer.  

Joyce earned a BA from Providence College, an MA from St. John's University, and a PhD from the University of Michigan, where he began his career in 1968 as a manuscripts librarian at the William L. Clements Library. He served on the staff of the American Antiquarian Society from 1972 to 1981, first as curator of manuscripts, then as education officer. In 1981, he was appointed assistant director for rare books and manuscripts at the New York Public Library and then moved on to Princeton University in 1986, where he served through 2000 as associate university librarian for rare books and special collec­tions. From 2000 to 2010, he was the Dorothy Foehr Huck chair of special collections and professor of history at Pennsylvania State University.

He shared his knowledge in the classroom, as a lecturer at Clark University, teaching graduate-level courses in archives administration at Columbia University, and as a visiting professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of California at Los Angeles. He is the author of the 1983 book Printing and Society on Early America

His professional service was extensive. At SAA, he served on the Council from 1981 to 1985 and as president from 1986 to 1987. In his incoming presidential greeting, "An Uneasy Balance: Voluntarism and Professionalism,” Joyce noted, "We are called upon to shape and to manage that portion of our cultural patrimony that exists as historical documentation."  He chaired the Task Force on Institutional Evaluation and participated in the Committee on Archival In­formation Exchange, co-chaired the 1977 Program Committee, and chaired the Committee on Education and Profes­sional Development. He was elected a Fellow of SAA in 1982.

In addition, Joyce served as chair of the Board of Directors of the Conservation Center for Art and History Artifacts and was a member of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board, the advisory committee for the Center for Jewish History, the New York State Records Advisory Board, the American Historical Association, the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Bibliographic Society of America, and the Research Libraries Group. A member since 1983 of the Grolier Club—the oldest existing bibliophilic club in North America—he was granted emeritus status in 2011 in acknowledgement of his many years of service.

The Society of American Archivists invites you to share your remembrances of Bill Joyce below.


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Kath says:
He began his career at the

He began his career at the Public Library before transferring to Princeton University in 1986, where he worked as an assistant university librarian for rare books and special collections until 2000.  

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Stev1084a says:
Bill Joyce Remembered

I knew Bill from the New York Public Library.  He was a kind and gentle man.  The Library could see when they had hired him that he was a scholar and a man of intellect.  My condolences to his family. He will be missed.

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