Tom Putnam Named Director of JFK Presidential Library
Press Release · Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014
Washington, DC…The National Archives and Records Administration announced today the appointment of Thomas J. Putnam as Director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The appointment was made by Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein, who directs the National Archives which includes 11 Presidential Libraries. Mr. Putnam is the fifth director of the John F. Kennedy Library since it was dedicated in 1979. His appointment is effective immediately.
In making the appointment, Professor Weinstein said “Tom Putnam brings unique experience and strong leadership to the position of Director of the Kennedy Library. Drawing upon his successful years as the Library’s Deputy Director and then Acting Director, Tom is fully prepared for the challenge of administering a world-class archive, library, and museum. He blends a firm commitment to the Kennedy Library’s track record of high achievement with keen support for the Presidential library system and for a broader commitment to the National Archives. I look forward to working with Tom and welcome him in this new position.”
Mr. Putnam will now assume overall responsibility for the Library’s core function of collecting, preserving and making available to the public the documents, audiovisual material and memorabilia of President Kennedy and his administration.
Mr. Putnam first joined the Kennedy Presidential Library in 1999 as Director of Education. His accomplishments included upgrading the Kennedy Library Forum Series; developing new museum and civic education programs for elementary, middle and high school students; organizing teacher institutes; and expanding outreach to underserved student populations through a free bus program.
In 2003, Putnam was appointed Deputy Director of the Library with responsibility for overseeing the Library’s $8 million annual budget and for managing all facility, security, and administrative issues and staff. As the liaison with the Kennedy Library Foundation, he was instrumental in the launch of a new web site and the building of a new digital archives. In addition, Mr. Putnam has overseen the planning and design of a proposed $22 million building addition project which will provide the Kennedy Presidential Library with an additional 30,000 square feet of storage required for the safe preservation of President Kennedy’s papers. In September, 2006, Mr. Putnam was appointed Acting Director of the Library.
Mr. Putnam graduated from Bowdoin College in 1984, where he was named a Truman Scholar and received his scholarship from Margaret Truman Daniel at the Truman Library. Mr. Putnam spent a year in Quebec, Canada on a Watson Fellowship teaching and studying how Quebec used its education system to modernize the province. In 1987, he received his MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, where he studied education and public policy. He subsequently lived in Senegal, West Africa as a Fulbright Scholar examining Senegal’s attempts to reform its national education system.
In 1988 Mr. Putnam returned to his home state of Maine where he taught history to high school students at Thornton Academy. From 1990-1999, he worked for the Upward Bound program in Maine and Connecticut, assisting low-income high school students to be the first in their families to attend college.
Mr. Putnam has served as the representative of the Kennedy Presidential Library with Columbia Point Associates, a membership organization of businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational and cultural institutions representing the people who live and work on Columbia Point.
As Director of the Kennedy Presidential Library, Putnam will work closely with John Shattuck, CEO of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, the non-profit organization that provides financial support, programmatic leadership, staffing, and creative resources for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
“I am delighted that the National Archives recognizes the talent and contribution that Tom Putnam has brought to the Kennedy Library,” said John Shattuck, CEO of the Kennedy Library Foundation. “His career demonstrates a life-long commitment to the ideals articulated by John and Robert Kennedy and he is well prepared for the mission that lies ahead as we continue to build the unique public-private partnership of the Kennedy Library and Foundation. I look forward to working with Tom to make the Library a major center for stimulating democratic participation, promoting public service, and defining the responsibilities of the United States in the world.”
A resident of Arlington, Massachusetts, Tom is married to Phyllis Wentworth, an Assistant Professor at Bristol Community College. They have two children.
About the Kennedy Library
The Kennedy Library is one of twelve Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives. It’s documentary and audiovisual collections make it a major center for the study of mid-20th century American history. Its archives include more than 8.4 million pages of the personal, congressional and presidential papers of John Fitzgerald Kennedy; 400,000 photographs; 9,000 hours of audio recordings; 70,000 volumes of printed materials; and 7.5 million feet of film. In addition to the papers of John F. Kennedy, the archives hold more than 40 million pages of the papers of Robert F. Kennedy and more than 300 other individuals who were associated with the Kennedy Administration or mid-20th Century American history. The Library’s archives also hold the Ernest Hemingway Collection that includes 95 percent of the Nobel Prize winner’s manuscripts and correspondence, making it the world’s principle center for research on the life and work of Ernest Hemingway. The Museum at the Kennedy Presidential Library has drawn more than six million visitors since it first opened in 1979.
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