R. D. W. Connor Appointed First Archivist of the United States

R. D. W. ConnorOn October 10, 1934, Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed R. D. W. Connor as the first Archivist of the United States. Robert Digges Wimberly Connor, born in Wilson in 1878, was also the founding father of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History. In 1903, Connor accepted an appointment to the newly formed North Carolina Historical Commission.

He worked for four years as the unpaid secretary of the commission while also working with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, promoting public education through speeches and articles. In 1906, R. D. W. Connor accepted a salaried position as Secretary of the N.C. Historical Commission.  Connor’s stalwart leadership and his investigative mind guided the agency through its early years.

When Roosevelt appointed Connor to the national post, Connor found himself again having to build an archival program from the ground up. He successfully educated Washington bureaucrats as to the need for proper records management and justified the urgency for protecting records of archival quality. He remained as Archivist of the United States until 1941.

Early in his tenure with the state, Connor wrote, “no people who are indifferent to their past need hope to make their future great.”

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