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Best wishes to AOTUS on his retirement

On the 6th of November 2009, he was confirmed as the 10th Archivist of the United States.

As of tomorrow, he will be the retired Archivist of the United States.

And as David S. Ferriero leaves the building for the last time in his role as head of the United States National Archives and Record Administration, he will leave behind very big shoes to fill.

Ferriero on AOTUS blog banner

Born and raised in Beverly, Massachusetts, David holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature from Northeastern University. He served as a Navy hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War and then earned a Master of Library Science degree from Simmons College.

His professional career took him through top positions at the libraries of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke University before becoming Director and Chief Executive of the Research Libraries at the New York Public Library in 2004.

None of which could have prepared him entirely for the wild ride he has had as America’s top archivist after he was tapped by President Obama to serve as the 10th AOTUS.

His more than 12 years at NARA’s helm have included some of the National Archives’ most challenging moments, from the release of the 1940 census in 2012 to the release of the 1950 census on 1 April this year. From the dramatic expansion of partnerships for digitization to the launch of a digital citizen-archivist initiative. From budget battles to COVID closures. From fights over facilities to fights over access to records that document insurrection.

The Legal Genealogist joins the rest of the genealogical community in acknowledging with deep and abiding gratitude how much David’s steady and calm hand at the helm has guided NARA through those moments. We all owe our thanks to David for all he has done, for his vision and his hard work. It’s been a pleasure for me personally to have had some small contact with him in connection with the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed), first as a student and for years now as an instructor.

All of us, as genealogists, as historians, as researchers of all stripes, have much to be thankful for in David’s steady leadership of our treasured archives. We wish him well, long life and much joy in his future private endeavors.

He leaves behind very big shoes to fill.

And we look forward to seeing who will step up and fill those shoes, as the 11th Archivist of the United States, going forward.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Big shoes to fill,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 29 Apr 2022).

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