Pictures, texts, manuscripts, architectural drawings, letters, audio and video recordings, scrapbooks—“together, they help tell the full story of the University,” says Melissa Mead.
It’s her mission to help keep that history alive and accessible.
Mead was recently named the John M. and Barbara Keil University Archivist and Rochester Collections Librarian. Mead succeeds Nancy Martin, who is retiring after serving as archivist since 2000.
“We are extremely fortunate to have an incumbent for the position of University archivist of Melissa Mead’s caliber. Melissa is deeply devoted and deeply knowledgeable about the University and the greater Rochester community,” says Mary Ann Mavrinac, vice provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries. “Her passion and keen intellect will ably build upon the fine legacy of outstanding University archivists we have been so fortunate to have had at the University.”
Mead, who received her master of library science degree from Columbia University in 1989, brings a wealth of knowledge about the University’s history to the position. For 16 years, she has worked in the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, of which the University Archives is a significant component, mostly recently as digital and visual resources librarian. During that time she was responsible for creating, preserving, and making accessible digitized materials from the archives and from other department holdings. She received the University’s Meliora Award in 2010.
A large part of Mead’s job has been collaborative; in addition to working with faculty, staff, and students from every division of the University, she provides assistance to offsite scholars and researchers in search of primary sources about University history. She supplies University Communications, University Advancement, and the Office of the President with hundreds of digital images every year selected from the special collections and University archives. She also contributes images for Rochester Review, the University’s homepage, and to local and national media.
During the time she’s worked in the Department of Special Collections, she has collaborated on numerous exhibits on University and Rochester history, including several for the University’s sesquicentennial celebration in 2000.
Mead says it’s exciting to piece together a full picture of the University’s history. From listening to recently preserved audio tapes, she says has heard the voices of all but two of the University’s 10 presidents. She know how meaningful it is to put a voice with a photo—like that of former president W. Allen Wallis. “When he tells a joke, you can hear the twinkle in his eye,” she says.