Archived Photographs and Stories Preserve the Legacy of Dr. Archie McNeal
by Koichi Tasa, University Archivist
Throughout Archives Month, University of Miami Libraries (UML) archivists have been sharing stories conveying the importance of access to archives and the unique and historical materials preserved in them. The University Archives is a resource that houses photographs, yearbooks, student newspapers, administrative records, memorabilia, and many other materials pertaining to UM history.
Weeks ago I exchanged a heartwarming correspondence with a community member who had found an Otto G. Richter Library brochure from the 1960s while going through family albums. She wondered if we’d be interested in adding it to our collections. She also mentioned being the niece of the late Dr. Archie L. McNeal, the first director of the University Libraries who served from 1952 to 1979. With more than thirty-five years having passed since Dr. McNeal’s retirement, the donor didn’t expect anyone currently at the Libraries to remember her uncle’s name, yet I knew the name quite well.
In fact, the important legacy of Dr. McNeal and his service to the University is one that is well preserved at the Archives: Dr. McNeal led the Libraries through an important phase of collection development, during which the Libraries’ holdings grew from 273,000 volumes to approximately 1.4 million volumes. He oversaw the construction of the Richter Library, completed in 1962, and is also well known for leading a number of important scholarly research initiatives.
Searching for Dr. McNeal’s name led quickly to a number of links to online records from his tenure, including archived articles from The Miami Hurricane describing some of the library programs initiated under his leadership and iconic photos from the 1950s through 1970s featuring Dr. McNeal in action at the library (such as the ones in this post). I was honored to be able to provide Dr. McNeal’s niece with these records that document his important work at the Libraries, and am happy to share them with you as a part of Archives Month. Check out more photos of this former director in UML’s Digital Collections for a glimpse into the early years of the library and an important time of growth for our University.