Wonderful Women Wednesday: Dr. Nancy E. Gwinn

Each week, the Archives features a woman who has been a groundbreaker at the Smithsonian, past or present, in a series titled Wonderful Women Wednesday.

Dr. Nancy E. Gwinn began her career with Smithsonian Libraries in 1984 and served as its director from 1997 to 2019. During her tenure, the Libraries provided digital access to its collections to Smithsonian staff and the public, expanded its preservation program, acquired an exhibition gallery at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and helped launch the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Under Gwinn’s leadership, the Libraries also took steps to secure its success in the future by establishing its first advisory board and advancement program, which raised nearly $20,000,000 for the organization. 

Gwinn was awarded the Blackwell North America Scholarship Award from the American Library Association in 1984 and the Waldo Gifford Leland Prize from the Society of American Archivists in 1988. Throughout her career, she was an active leader in the American Library Association and the International Federation of Library Associations. 

Gwinn earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming in 1967, a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Michigan in 1969, and a Ph.D. in American civilization from the George Washington University in 1996. 

Portrait of Nancy Gwinn.

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