Eight members were inducted as Fellows of the Society of American Archivists during an Awards Ceremony held August 29 at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco: DANNA BELL-RUSSEL, BILL LANDIS, DENNIS MEISSNER, JOAN SCHWARTZ, ROBERT SPINDLER, SHARON THIBODEAU, THOMAS WILSTED, and HELENA ZINKHAM. The distinction of Fellow is the highest honor bestowed on individuals by SAA and is awarded for outstanding contributions to the archives profession. The program was established in 1957 and conferred annually. There are currently 182 Fellows.

DANNA BELL-RUSSEL is an educational outreach specialist in the Office of Strategic Initiatives at the Library of Congress, where she handles reference services, conducts workshops for educators, develops content for the Library’s website, and coordinates summer teacher institutes. She joined the Library of Congress in 1998, first working as a learning center specialist and then a digital reference specialist. A colleague who nominated Bell-Russel for the honor of Fellow called her “a dedicated servant within SAA, an articulate voice of reason and progress, a pragmatic and committed leader, and an energetic presence who exemplifies the activist archivist.” Another colleague noted, “It was Bell-Russel’s fire that insured that a Diversity Committee be appointed and given its charge to advance diversity in SAA.”

Bell-Russel has been a member of SAA since 1989 and has held several leadership positions, including being elected to the Council, serving as chair of the 2008-2009 Appointments Committee, and co-chair of the 2007 Program Committee. Bell-Russel holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Miami University and a master’s degree in library science from Long Island University.

Before joining the Library of Congress, Bell-Russel worked as the curator for the National Equal Justice Library at American University and as an archivist for the District of Columbia Public Library and the Henry Lee Moon Library at the NAACP. She is also an active member of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference and the Special Library Association.

BILL LANDIS is head of processing at Yale University Library. One individual who nominated him as a Fellow wrote,“Bill is one of our great visionaries. He anticipates where we need to be in five or ten years, and determines how we need to adapt our practices to get there.”

Before joining the staff at Yale in 2006, Landis was a metadata coordinator for the California Digital Library and a manuscripts librarian for the University of California, Irvine. Landis earned a master’s in library and information science from the University of Michigan after picking up a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was a doctoral student in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA.

A colleague recalls watching the younger Landis in action at a conference: “Bill was still a graduate student, but his passion for archival issues and his ability to influence events was already impressively sophisticated.”

He co-edited, with Robin Chandler, Archives in the Digital Library (2007) and also was a contributor to Describing Archives:A Content Standard (2004) and Encoded Archival Description Tag Library (2002). Along the way he has garnered a few honors: the Faculty Career Development Award from the University of California, Irvine; SAA’s 1998 C.F.W. Coker Award as a member of the Encoded Archival Description Working Group; the Charles F. Scott Graduate Fellowship from UCLA; and the University of Michigan’s Margaret Mann Award, an academic honor based upon demonstration of ability and promise of professional development.

He joined SAA in 1993 and has served on the Task Force on Sections and Roundtables, Committee on Education Task Force on Education Office Guidelines, and the Canadian-U.S. Task Force on Archival Description. Landis is currently a member of the American Archivist Editorial Board.

DENNIS MEISSNER is head of Collections Management for the Minnesota Historical Society, where he is responsible for a 28-employee department with a budget of $850,000. Meissner’s enthusiastic supporters who nominated him for Fellow refer to him as a: “stimulating thinker,” “absolutely good fellow,” and “a proverbial island of sanity in an increasingly chaotic world.” Many cited his seminal contribution to the profession as co-author with Mark Greene of “More Product, Less Process” (American Archivist, Fall/Winter 2005), which proposed radical changes in the way collections are processed.

At the Minnesota Historical Society, which he joined in 1973, Meissner has worked as a records analyst, manuscripts coordinator, and in various processing management positions. He earned his bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minn., and took graduate courses in American history at the University of Minnesota.

He has served as a grant evaluator for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and as a consultant for the Northwest Archives Processing Initiative and the Henry Ford Museum.

Meissner was instrumental in the development and implementation of Encoded Archival Description, chairing the Research Libraries Group’s EAD Advisory Group in 2001 to create Encoded Archival Description Guidelines. The group received SAA’s 2004 C.F.W. Coker Award for innovative development in archival description for the guidelines. Meissner has also been awarded an NHPRC Fellowship. A member of SAA since 1980, Meissner most recently chaired the Publications Board and served on the Task Force on Electronic Publications. He is working on a forthcoming book with Greene titled, Effective Processing: An Archival Reader. He currently serves as president of the Midwest Archives Conference.

JOAN SCHWARTZ is an associate professor and Queen’s National Scholar in the Department of Art at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. Prior to joining the university, she held a variety of positions at the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa photography acquisition, research, and preservation departments.

A colleague who recommended Schwartz as an SAA Fellow said, “Joan stands almost alone as a visionary, advocate, and ambassador between the profession and academics in the area of visuality, visual materials, and the archives.”

Schwartz holds a Ph.D. in historical geography from Queen’s University in and a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia. Another nominator noted, “Dr. Schwartz’s doctoral research and her many publications have revolutionized how users of historical photographs in archives, including historians, geographers, historical geographers, photographic historians, and other archivists perceive not just photographs, but all visual media.”

Schwartz is the author of the 2003 book Picturing Place: Photography and the Geographical Imagination. Her honors include two W. Kaye Lamb Prizes for the best article in Archivaria: in 1996 for “’We make our tools and our tools make us’: Lessons from Photographs for the Practice, Politics, and Poetics of Diplomatics,” and in 2001 for “‘Records of Simple Truth and Precision’: Photography, Archives and the Illusion of Control.” She also received the National Archives of Canada 125th Anniversary Award for notable achievement.

Schwartz has served on the SAA Program Committee and as a mentor to upcoming archivists. Her award presenter remarked, “From the students who have benefited from her teachings and mentoring, to the academics and peers who have been influenced by her views, all feel that Joan has profoundly elevated the perceived value of visual resources as essential evidence of the documentary record.”

ROB SPINDLER is head of Archives and Special Collections at Arizona State University-Tempe, where he has been on staff since 1988. When asked to comment on his nomination for Fellow, one associate remarked: “He is the sort of archivist with whom one longs to work on a daily basis, just to experience first-hand his knowledge, enthusiasm, intellect, and collaborative spirit.” Spindler, a Certified Archivist, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Boston University, and then went to Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science to obtain another master’s in archives management.

Spindler has served as chair of SAA’s Task Force on Electronic Publishing, the Description Section, the Nominating Committee, and the Committee on Archival Information Exchange. He was a member of the Encoded Archival Description Working Group that won the C.F.W. Coker Award in 1998 after developing the EAD encoding standard. Most recently he contributed a chapter on electronic publishing to the new SAA book, College and University Archives: Readings in Theory and Practice.

A colleague noted: “Rob’s work generally focuses on the most challenging issues of contemporary archives. He does not simply serve on a committee or board—he puts forward intelligent, well-articulated ideas, working tirelessly to ensure the work of the group is accomplished.”

In 2005, Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records honored Spindler with a Turtle Award, which recognizes individuals who cherish Arizona’s rich cultural heritage and who have supported the agency’s efforts to accomplish its mission. He is a member of the Society of Southwest Archivists, serves on the Arizona Historical Records Advisory Board, and is past president of the Arizona Paper and Photograph Conservation Group.

SHARON THIBODEAU is the deputy assistant archivist for Records Services at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. She previously served as director of Archival Operations at NARA’s College Park, Maryland, facility.

Colleagues who nominated Thibodeau for Fellow refer to her as “the single most welcoming and helpful person at NARA for many new arrivals, even those in other offices and programs.” One individual said, “I conducted a number of interviews at NARA, and, to a person, when asked who they most admired and trusted, Sharon Thibodeau was the first name offered.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Colorado State University in 1968, and a Ph.D in the history of science from Yale University in 1972. Thibodeau joined the National Archives in 1976. Her associates point out her “pioneering work in the early days of the custodial program for electronic records” and her “major role in bringing the National Archives into the mainstream of national and international descriptive practice.”

Thibodeau, a member of SAA since 1979, has been a driving force in archival description. She served on the Working Group on Standards for Archival Description, was part of the team that developed Encoded Archival Description, and was behind the development of two international standards—General International Standard Archival Description and the International Standard Archival Authority Record.

She served on the SAA Council from 1995 to 1998 and has served as chair of the Committee on Archival Information Exchange and on the Program Committee. She is also active in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, the Society for History in the Federal Government, and the History of Science Society.

THOMAS WILSTED, recently retired director of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, was described by one of his nominators for the honor of Fellow as “a dynamic and visionary leader who sees the big picture and commands respect in a very natural and unassuming way.”

The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center was established in 1996 at the University of Connecticut and Wilsted became its first director. “Tom served tirelessly to elevate the stature of the Center and it is under his leadership that it has enjoyed immeasurable successes,” noted his Connecticut colleagues. Wilsted, who retired in June, is now an archival consultant based in Arizona.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Kalamazoo College in 1966 and a master’s degree in American history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1968. A career that would take him around the country and then overseas began that same year when he took his first job as a field services representative for the Illinois State Historical Library. He then moved to New Zealand to become the manuscripts librarian at the Alexander Trumbull Library in Wellington. His next home was New York City, where he joined the Salvation Army Archives and Research Center as its director. The journey continued when he headed West to serve as director of the American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Wilsted’s honors include the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference’s Arline Custer Memorial Award for best book for his co-authorship of Managing Archives and Manuscripts Repositories (SAA, 1991) and the Wyoming State Historical Society’s Henryetta Berry Memorial Award for promoting state history. A member of SAA since 1982, he wrote Planning New and Remodeled Archival Facilities in 2007.

HELENA ZINKHAM is currently the acting chief for the Prints and Photographs Division at the Library of Congress. Colleagues who nominated Zinkham for the honor of Fellow refer to her as “one of those magical individuals who brings out the best in others.”

Zinkham began her career working with pictures at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. She became the curator of prints and photographs at the New York Historical Society in 1980 and joined the Library of Congress in 1984 as a cataloger in the Prints and Photographs Division.

One of Zinkham’s supporters remarked, “She is grounded in reality and yet grasps the ideals—and can see practical ways to get from here to there.” Another recalled how she was a key member of several groups that created Encoded Archival Description (EAD): “Without Helena’s efforts to organize and focus members through gentle direction of strong personalities, EAD might never have come to fruition. Her tact, firmness, and ability to draw the conversation to points of agreement saved the day.”

Honors for that work include the Bentley Library Fellowship for the Berkeley Finding Aid Project (1995) and the C.F.W. Coker Award for the EAD Group (1998). She also received the JSC Certificate of Appreciation in 2006, the Library of Congress Meritorious Service Award in 1999, and the Library of Congress Special Achievement Award in 1998. Associates at the Library of Congress cite her work on the Optical Disk Pilot Project and the American Memory Project, and her current effort to move collections into the online FLICKR environment: “Once again, Helena is leading the way, introducing the archival and library communities to creative and low-cost ways to implement new technologies that help us build our base of users nationwide.”

Zinkham was a major contributor to SAA’s Photographs: Archival Care and Management, published in 2006. She has been a member of SAA since 1987.


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Criteria and Selection Committee

The Committee for the Selection of SAA Fellows evaluates nominees on the following criteria: appropriate academic education and professional and technical training; a minimum of seven years professional experience in any of the fields encompassed in the archival profession; writing of superior quality and usefulness in advancing SAA objectives; and contributions to the archival profession through work in and for SAA.

As specified by the SAA constitution, election as Fellow is by 75 percent vote of the Committee for the Selection of SAA Fellows. The committee consisted of the five immediate past presidents of SAA—Richard Pearce-Moses (chair), Elizabeth W. Adkins, CA, Timothy L. Ericson, Peter Hirtle, and Randall Jimerson—and three Fellows selected by Council—Linda M. Matthews, Robert S. Martin, and Charles R. Schultz.