National Archives Bids Farewell to Executive Director National Historical Publications and Records Commission
Press Release · Monday, August 7, 2017
After serving more than 13 years with the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, Kathleen Williams is departing the National Archives and Records Administration for a new position as the Chief Archivist at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Her last day is August 16, 2017.
Williams joined the NHPRC in June 2004 as the Deputy Executive Director and was named Executive Director in April 2008. Under her leadership, the commission created new grant programs for digitizing historical records, public engagement with primary sources, and the Archives Leadership Institute. During her tenure, the Society of American Archivists presented its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to the NHPRC. In 2015 Williams was named a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists. She has the third-longest tenure as head of the NHPRC since its founding in 1934.
“Through her dedication and hard work at the NHPRC, Kathleen has helped change the way archivists do their work and how researchers and the general public access our history. Her direction of this grants program has unlocked the treasures hidden in archival collections all over the country; enabled the preservation and description of important records; and helped move the community into a digital future,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “Consistently vigilant about grant successes with applicability to the work of the National Archives, Kathleen's leadership will be missed.”
Williams led the complex collaboration that conceived of, designed and created Founders Online, which published online more than 178,000 searchable documents, fully annotated, from the authoritative Founding Fathers Papers projects. Some 4.4 million visitors have used the online database since its launch in mid-2013. Researchers have published more than 50 monographs citing Founders Online, as well as hundreds of dissertations and articles. In 2014 the site received the Jefferson Prize from the Society for History in the Federal Government and that year’s Archivist Award. The site continues to flourish through a sustained collaboration with the University of Virginia.
Most recently, the commission undertook a two-year strategic planning process to reimagine its work, and the plan’s implementation began in 2016. Among the special initiatives in process are partnerships with other federal and private sector funders, including the establishment of Digital Edition Publishing Cooperatives through a multi-year collaboration with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This approach promises to address online access to documentary editions through partnerships among academics, libraries, and archives.
"I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work with the Archivist and the Commission members on the grant programs, collaborations, and initiatives that make the NHPRC such a valuable and unique body. I am especially indebted to the talented and dedicated staff for making my tenure so productive and rewarding," Williams said.
Chief of Staff Maria Carosa Stanwich will serve as Acting Executive for NHPRC while the agency begins the process of selecting a replacement.
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