LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Libraries have announced that Letha Johnson, assistant librarian, has been selected to serve as university archivist, responsible for curating all items that help preserve the history of KU. Currently, Johnson works for KU Libraries as curator of the Kansas Collection. She previously served as the associate archivist in University Archives. Johnson steps into her new role after longtime university archivist Becky Schulte began phased retirement earlier this year.
In her new leadership role, Johnson will expand her expertise, becoming the campus authority on KU history and traditions, sharing her passion for the university’s history with the campus community, alumni and advocates. Through research and instruction with primary sources, Johnson will share the history of KU and the experiences of generations of Jayhawks.
“We are excited to have Letha begin her new role as the university archivist,” said Beth Whittaker, KU Libraries associate dean and director of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, where the university archives are housed. “She has decades of archival and records management experience and a personal passion for KU history that will help her tell the story of the university in new ways.”
As university archivist, Johnson will oversee the official records of the university that are transferred to university archives, be responsible for collecting the history of the campus overall, raise the profile of the archives and build new relationships with colleagues and other units across campus.
“There are some untold stories of the university that I am hoping I will get a chance to dive into and bring to light, as well as reconnecting with the people I worked with in archives before.” Johnson said.
Johnson has extensive professional training related to this work, including earning certifications from the Academy of Certified Archivists and from the Society of American Archivists as a digital archives specialist. In her time working with the Kansas Collection, she has taught many classes and continued to build relationships with Kansas communities — skills that will help her in her new role.
“Letha brings a tremendous depth of knowledge about the history of Kansas and the University of Kansas,” said Dean of Libraries Kevin L. Smith. “I am really looking forward to having her in this new role, which I think is work that she was born to do.”
Johnson began her new role Nov. 29.