If the Smithsonian Institution had a hall of fame for Volunteers, then Zoe Martindale would certainly be in line for induction. Martindale started volunteering at the Smithsonian Institution Archives in 1997 immediately after she retired. This past February, Martindale retired again, this time from her volunteer position at the Archvies after over twenty years of service. Before joining the Archives team, Martindale had absolutely no professional experience in archival work, museums, or photography. She simply was looking for an opportunity to "exercise her brain." She certainly found it here at the Archives, where she used her near photographic memory to assist with cataloguing countless historic photos — what is sure to be an insurmountable number of images now accessible to the public because of her hard work.
Smithsonian Historian Pamela Henson first hired Martindale, and worked side by side with her throughout her entire time at the Archives, she describes what an incredible asset Martindale has been, not just to the Archives but to everyone who is served by the Archives’ work.
“Zoe has impressive visual analysis skills – we would both look at a photograph and she would see far more in it than I did. She also has a great alarm system in her brain. She would look at an image and its caption and something would not sit right with her. And I soon learned to listen to this because she is always right. Maybe the image was reversed. The date was way off. That wasn’t really Secretary Baird, even though the man was heavyset and had a beard. And if she sees a photograph once, she never forgets it! I would give her an image to catalog and she would say 'I’ve already done that.' I would reply that I didn’t remember it, but when we checked, it was there, inevitably…
But I’ll miss most her sense of humor and ready smile. She enjoys life to the fullest every day.”
From all of us at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, we wish Zoe Martindale an even better second retirement than her first, and thank her for sharing her talents with us for all of these years. Please enjoy a short selection of images from the "Historic Pictures Collection," a favorite of Martindale's which she loved working on.