Campus & Community

Harvard appoints Sniffin-Marinoff as University archivist

4 min read

Sidney Verba, the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and director of the University Library, has appointed Megan Sniffin-Marinoff to the position of Harvard University archivist. Sniffin-Marinoff, who currently serves as librarian and deputy director of Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library, succeeds former University archivist Harley P. Holden, who held the position from 1971 until his retirement late in 2003. Her appointment is effective Sept. 7.

According to Verba, “The importance of the Harvard University Archives cannot be overstated. The holdings form much more than a detailed documentary history of Harvard. They are significant sources on the social, intellectual, and political history of the United States that are of use to Harvard students and faculty and to scholars around the world. We are fortunate to welcome so distinguished a practitioner as Megan Sniffin-Marinoff as the University Archivist.”

Sniffin-Marinoff is well known to the library community at Harvard, in Boston, and far beyond. She came to Radcliffe from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was head of the Institute Archives and Special Collections. From 1980 to 1994 she was archivist of Simmons College. As a professor in the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science, she developed its archives concentration into one of the best in the nation.

As president of the New England Archivists (NEA), she helped to transform the NEA into one of the strongest of the regional archival organizations. She serves on the Council of the Society of American Archivists, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Archives Advisory Committee, and the International Council on Archives.

According to Barbara Graham, associate director of the University Library for administration and programs, Sniffin-Marinoff’s appointment is the culmination of a national search, which identified a strong cadre of candidates. “The challenges are many,” Graham noted, adding “Megan Sniffin-Marinoff will head the archives in a key chapter of its history, during which the very nature of the archives will change. In the coming years, a constellation of digital resources will take their place alongside four centuries’ worth of seminally important faculty papers and extraordinary collections of Harvardiana. Megan’s experience and knowledge will be invaluable in meeting these challenges, in balancing our concern for digital as well as traditional materials, and in supporting the increased use of the archives by faculty, students, and researchers internationally.”

In response to her appointment as University Archivist, Sniffin-Marinoff stated, “I look forward to the enormous challenge of leading the efforts to document Harvard’s history – challenges presented not only by yesterday’s paper records, but also by today’s electronic records.” During the initial months of her appointment as University archivist, she will continue to guide major renovations to the Schlesinger Library building that are slated for completion early in 2005. “I will spend a period of time moving back and forth between the Schlesinger and the archives to ease the transition,” she said.

The University Archives has a dual mission to set and implement policies for the management of University records and to identify, collect, and preserve the documentary heritage of the University. The holdings of the Harvard University Archives, which date from the 17th century to the present, encompass permanent University records, including publications, as well as theses and dissertations, faculty papers, course curricula, and alumni/ae memorabilia. These holdings include a broad range of formats, from paper files, books, and periodicals to photographs, audio, and video recordings. The archives serve a broad audience, including University faculty, students, administrators, alumni/ae, and scholars around the world. This audience has increased as the archives have enhanced access to its holdings through the online catalogs developed through the Library Digital Initiative. A number of courses at Harvard and other local universities now include assignments based on collections in the Harvard University Archives.