Information about exceptional people can sometimes be surprisingly tough to find, especially when you are looking to learn more about those who have often been ignored in American historical narratives, like people of color and women. But, hope is not lost if you can find even the smallest thread to follow in your research. In the case of Mildred Glover, I knew that she had worked in the Office of General Counsel, both in an administrative role and as an attorney, and that she had an impressive knowledge of the Smithsonian’s history. We didn’t know much else about Glover, but we were sure we wanted to find out more.
When conducting a search through the finding aids in the Archives’ collections, one folder name revealed that Glover had won, or at least been nominated for, the Robert A. Brooks Award for Excellence in Administration. Here was the thread we needed! A small clue that would hopefully lead to more.
So, I pulled a little more at the thread. In this folder, there were multiple nominations for Mildred Glover for the Brooks Award. From the strongly worded recommendation letters, it was crystal clear how hardworking and well regarded Glover was by her Smithsonian colleagues. Charles Blitzer, then Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center, gave glowing praise, calling her the “single most effective person in the Castle” and saying that “she was the Office of General Counsel.” A thank you letter written by Glover gave insight into her personality. Not only was she incredibly dedicated, but she was gracious and kind as well. While this folder shed a lot of light on her career and reputation at the Smithsonian, this was not the end of the thread. Whether or not Glover had won this award and exactly which roles she held at the Smithsonian throughout her career were still unclear.
After a little more digging, it became clear that Glover received the Brooks Award in 1995. A helpful citation for a 2008 edition of The Torch, the Smithsonian’s staff newsletter, was the next clue. This was exciting! Could someone have recognized Glover’s accomplishments and written an article about her? Was this an announcement of her retirement? In this edition of The Torch, there was a profile written by Christine Miller Ford that detailed Glover’s career at the Smithsonian when she retired. Finally, I was able to answer some of my most pressing questions.
Mildred Glover began working at the Smithsonian in 1959 as a clerk stenographer in the Museum of History and Techology (now the National Museum of American History), before the museum even had its own building. After a little over five years, Glover was hired as the secretary for the Office of General Counsel, the Smithsonian’s newly created legal office. She continued to work in the Office of General Counsel for the rest of her nearly fifty-year Smithsonian career. While continuing her dedicated work as the Administrative Officer, Glover obtained both her bachelor’s and law degrees.
After she earned her JD from Georgetown University, Glover became an Assistant and then Associate General Counsel. She worked on a wide variety of legal issues, from the Congressional budget to copyrights and everything in between. Glover was held in high esteem by her colleagues for her extensive legal knowledge and her expertise on the legal history of the Smithsonian. John Huerta, the second General Counsel, called her “a true treasure of the Smithsonian, absolutely irreplaceable.” Without that small thread to follow in the finding aid, the extent and impact of Mildred Glover’s career at the Smithsonian may have been lost to those who did not know her.
- Profile: Not all of the Smithsonian's Treasures are in the collection, The Torch, August 2008
- Mildred Glover (Brooks Award), Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 09-295, Box 2