The Archives is made up of wonderful, helpful, and hard-working individuals who strive to acquire, preserve, and make accessible records that document the history of the Smithsonian Institution. Some of our staff have been at the Smithsonian for more than thirty years, while others are just beginning their tenure here. There will be some changes in the office as we welcome new staff members coming on board this summer who bring their expertise and new ideas to the Archives.
Continuing our series on introducing new staff, I’d like to welcome our Digital Curator with the American Women's History Initiative, Dr. Liz Harmon.
What's your educational background?
I have a Ph.D. and M.A. in American studies from the University of Michigan. I focused my research at Michigan on the history of philanthropy. Before attending Michigan and spending time working in philanthropy and technology, I completed my B.A. in American Studies and Spanish at Kenyon College.
What do you do at the Smithsonian Institution Archives?
I'm the American Women's History Initiative Curator at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, which means that I research and produce digital resources and exhibitions about women working in science at the Smithsonian. It's incredibly interesting and important work, and I'm excited to be a part of this project!
What is the strangest/most interesting thing you have discovered at the Archives so far?
As I begin my work as an AWHI Curator and I spend time in the Archives, I have the opportunity to work with millions of digital records across the Smithsonian. The most interesting challenge I am confronted with in the Archives right now is how to find and share all of the incredible stories about Smithsonian women working in science contained in our records. It’s a big job! Fortunately, I have data scientists, archivists, librarians, digital specialists, and researchers to help me uncover this part of our historical record.
What is the most unexpected thing you’ve learned about working here?
The Smithsonian is a global research organization with natural and cultural heritage programs in 140 countries worldwide. The number of people the Smithsonian can reach with these programs is remarkable, especially as we develop new digital approaches.
Favorite spot in DC to recommend to visitors?
I like to take visitors to the National Portrait Gallery. In particular, I love to share the presidential portraits.