Fellow: Ellen Swain

Ellen Swain, associate professor of library administration and archivist for student life and culture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U. of I.), will be inducted as a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The distinction of Fellow is the highest honor bestowed on individuals by SAA and is awarded for outstanding contributions to the archives profession.

Swain earned a bachelor of arts degree from Earlham College;  a master of arts degree in American history from Indiana University, Bloomington; and a master of science degree in library and information science from U. of I. She began her career as a professional archivist in 1996, working first as a project archivist and then assistant archivist for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Archives. She moved on to serve as archivist for student life and culture at U. of I. and continues to serve as the leader of this specialized archives program. U. of I. University Archivist William Maher wrote in his nomination letter, “She has moved the program from nascent effort to a vibrant and expanding program with growing national credibility among both archival researchers and the creators of records of enduring value.”

Swain’s progressive commitment to educational programming has had a profound impact on professional archives organizations, particularly SAA and the Midwest Archives Conference (MAC). Her work as chair of MAC’s Education Task Force is helping to establish a Speakers Bureau pilot project that will provide members of the profession with a mechanism to connect lone arrangers and new archivists directly with leaders across the archives discipline to address both theoretical and practical questions that arise. One nominator wrote that Swain’s work in building collaborative partnerships is “integral to the overall continued success of the archival profession in the twenty-first century.” Swain also served as president of MAC from 2011 to 2013.

Swain has been a member of SAA since 2000 and has served on the Education Committee, Student Program Subcommittee, and Program Committee. She served as chair of the Reference, Access, and Outreach Section, vice chair of the College/University Archives Section, and co-chair of the Women’s Collections Roundtable. Swain also has published on numerous topics, including documentation strategies, oral history, and teaching with primary sources.