Doctor of Humane Letters
As the tenth Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero oversees the repository of the nation’s heritage, ranging from originals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to slave-ship manifests and Indian treaties, as well as the contents of thirteen presidential libraries. Under his jurisdiction are 12 billion pages of records; 7.2 million maps, charts, and architectural drawings; 40 million still photographs; 365 reels of film; 110,000 videotapes; and millions of digital records and machine-readable data files.
Mr. Ferriero, BA’72, MA’76, had built a distinguished career as a library director when President Barack Obama appointed him to his current post in 2009. He is the first librarian to serve as national archivist, and has brought the same philosophy of maximizing public access to both positions.
Previously, Mr. Ferriero served for five years as the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries. He led the integration of the four research libraries and eighty-seven branch libraries into one seamless service for users, creating the largest public library system in the United States and one of the largest research libraries in the world.
Among his notable achievements was the development of the library’s digital strategy, which currently encompasses partnerships with Google and Microsoft; a website that reaches more than 25 million unique users annually; and a digital library of more than 750,000 images that may be accessed free of charge by any user around the world.
Before joining the New York Public Libraries in 2004, Mr. Ferriero served in leadership positions at two of the nation’s major academic libraries, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke University. At both institutions, he led major initiatives including the expansion of facilities, the adoption of digital technologies, and a reengineering of printing and publications. He has commented that the jobs of librarian and archivist are very similar—“collecting, protecting, and encouraging the use of records and information.”
In a 2010 interview with the New York Times, Mr. Ferriero said that he never expected to leave any of the high-profile positions he has held, but that he was drawn in each case by the larger opportunity to make a difference.
In addition to his two degrees in English literature from Northeastern, Mr. Ferriero earned a master’s degree in library and information science from Simmons College in Boston. He served as a Navy hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War.