Fellow: Katherine Wisser

Katherine Wisser, associate professor at the School of Library and Information Science and director of the Archives Concentration and Archives Certificate programs at Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts, will be inducted as a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) on August 4 during a virtual 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 enthusiastic educator and indefatigable leader in archival standards development, Wisser holds a master’s degree in American history from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree and PhD in information and library science from the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. Since 2002, Wisser has held a number of leadership positions within SAA’s sections on metadata and description, and led or contributed to two major revisions of foundational technical standards for archival metadata. From 2006 to 2011, she served as chair of SAA’s Encoded Archival Context Working Group, shepherding Encoded Archival Context–Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC–CPF) through approval and publication. She then served as co-chair of the Technical Subcommittee for Encoded Archival Context and the Technical Subcommittee for Encoded Archival Standards, working to revise the Encoded Archival Description, Version 3 (EAD3) standard. Her work on EAC-CPF and EAD3 cemented SAA's status as a cooperative partner in the international archival standards community, advanced the technological underpinnings of archival metadata, and promoted a new networked model of archival description.

In addition, Wisser has written, presented, and taught extensively on these standards, enabling their practical and widespread application. She is anecdotally credited with teaching EAD to the entire state of North Carolina via her “Introduction to EAD” workshop, which she taught between 2002 and 2007. She had a similar impact within SAA as co-instructor of “MARC According to DACS,” which was crucial to propagating Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS) following its publication in 2004, and as instructor of “New Standard: Encoded Archival Context – Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF),” both of which she taught more than a dozen times. In 2015, she guest edited with Anila Angjeli a special issue, “Identity Matters: Describing and Interconnecting Entities with EAC-CPF,” for the Journal of Archival Organization.

One of Wisser’s supporters notes that her work has made “critically important contributions to understanding hidden biases that may be embedded in both past and emergent archival description practices.” Another wrote that she “infuses her standards development work at the national and international level with a deep understanding of the people working on the ground.”

Wisser is one of two new Fellows named in 2021. There are currently 196 Fellows of the Society of American Archivists.