Wonderful Women Wednesday: Margaret A. Santiago

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. 

Margaret A. Santiago (1931–2018) was the first African American woman registrar at the Smithsonian and at any major scientific museum. She began her career with the Smithsonian as a clerk typist in 1960, and, after three years, she was promoted to assistant supervisor in the accessions and specimen control unit of the National Museum of Natural History. In 1970, Santiago earned the role of supervisor in the unit, and was later promoted to supervisory registrar technician. By 1977, Santiago managed the Museum's collections as its registrar, a position which she held until her retirement in 1991.

In 1981, Santiago chaired the Smithsonian Institution’s Women’s Council, an organization dedicated to the achievement and advancement of the Institution’s women. Outside of the Smithsonian, Santiago was a charter member of the Association of African American Museums, founded in 1978.

Santiago was also a talented singer, and, in 1987, she released an album, titled MarGueritte S. Soulful Gospel.  

Excerpt announcing Santiago's promotion. It is listed in a section, titled "Comings and Goings".

Further Reading: 

Archives staff will dedicate time to identify and digitize photographs of Santiago in our collections when we are safely back in the office.

Produced by the Smithsonian Institution Archives. For copyright questions, please see the Terms of Use.