Dr. James “Bert” Rhoads, fifth Archivist of the United States (1968–1979), passed away on April 7, 2015. He began his distinguished career at the National Archives as a microfilm operator in 1952, shortly after earning a master of arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Rhoads held several professional and administrative positions, including Deputy Archivist, before his appointment as Archivist in 1968. He held the top position throughout four presidential administrations. Dr. Rhoads served on the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (chairman, 1968–1979); the Federal Council on Arts and Humanities (1970–1979); and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Trust (1969–1979). He was elected and served as president for many professional organizations, including SAA (1975–1976), the International Council on Archives (1976–1979), and the Academy of Certified Archivists (1992–1994). He became an SAA Fellow in 1966. Under Rhoads’s leadership, the National Archives launched several new initiatives, including the publication of the quarterly journal, Prologue, and the establishment of the nationwide system of regional archives that resulted in expanded record storage space and enhanced access to public records. It was during his tenure, shortly after the television miniseries Roots, based on Alex Haley’s bestselling book, that the Archives experienced a surge of genealogical researchers interested in accessing archival sources. He finished his career as the director of the Archives and Records Management Program at Western Washington University (1984–1994), where, with his soft-spoken and understated demeanor, he educated and prepared a generation of future archivists. He will be missed, but his contributions to the archival profession will continue to flourish well into the twenty-first century. —Todd Jay Welch, Northern Arizona University Archives
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