David Ferriero

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
David Ferriero
10th Archivist of the United States
In office
November 6, 2009 – April 30, 2022
PresidentBarack Obama
Donald Trump
Joe Biden
DeputyDebra Steidel Wall
Preceded byAdrienne Thomas (acting)
Succeeded byDebra Steidel Wall (acting)
Personal details
David Sean Ferriero

(1945-12-31) December 31, 1945 (age 78)
Beverly, Massachusetts, U.S.
EducationNortheastern University (BA, MA)
Simmons College (MS)
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Navy
Battles/warsVietnam War

David Sean Ferriero (/ˈfɛri/;[1] born December 31, 1945) is an American librarian and library administrator, who served as the 10th Archivist of the United States. He previously served as the Director of the New York Public Library[2] and as the University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke University.[3] Prior to his Duke position, he worked for 31 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology library.[4] Ferriero was the first librarian to serve as Archivist of the United States.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Ferriero was born and raised in Beverly, Massachusetts, and graduated from Beverly High School. He earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in English literature from Northeastern University.[6]

Ferriero's education was interrupted by service in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War. He served as a Navy hospital corpsman assigned to a Marine unit in Danang, Vietnam, and on a hospital ship, the USS Sanctuary, in Vietnamese waters.[7]

Following his military service, he earned a Master of Science degree in library and information science from Simmons College.[8]


Ferriero at WikiConference USA 2015 at the National Archives

MIT Libraries[edit]

Ferriero worked at MIT Libraries for 31 years, including as associate director of public services.[9][10]

Duke University Library[edit]

Ferriero was the Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and vice provost for library affairs at Duke University from 1996 through 2004.[11] Ferriero was the first Duke university librarian to address the members of the university's Board of Trustees in person.[12] He was actively involved in the evolution of North Carolina's Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN).[13]

New York Public Library[edit]

Ferriero was the Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of the Research Libraries at the New York Public Library (NYPL) from 2004.[14] In 2007 his role expanded with additional responsibilities as director of New York Public Library's Branch Libraries.[2] He was responsible for the management and operations of NYPL's research libraries since 2005[3] and the branch libraries since 2007.[2] He presided over a major restructuring, which was accompanied by elimination of some positions and the creation of new ones.[15] Ferriero argued that transformation was imperative as NYPL adapted to the profound cultural and societal developments affecting the future of libraries.[16]

Ferriero prioritized staff recruitment, retention, training, development, and compensation.[17] He also made it a point to try to visit the main reading room every day, assessing the varied needs of NYPL patrons.[18]


Ferriero was the NYPL's Partner Representative[19] in OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), which with its member libraries co-operatively produces and maintains WorldCat—the OCLC Online Union Catalog.[20] During Ferriero's tenure, the library stopped using the unique "Billings classification system" for its reference books in the Rose Reading Room (main reading room) (the classification system is named for John Shaw Billings, the former NYPL librarian who devised and introduced it in the nineteenth century).[21][22]

Google digitization partnership[edit]

The NYPL joined the Google Books Library Project during Ferriero's tenure.[23][24] Google and major international libraries have agreed to making collections of public domain books available for scanning to be offered to the public online, without charge.[24][25]

National Archives and Records Administration[edit]

Ferriero keynoting at Wikimania 2012

On July 28, 2009, President Obama nominated Ferriero to be 10th Archivist of the United States.[26]

An early October confirmation hearing was scheduled by a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. According to the subcommittee chairman, Senator Thomas Carper of Delaware, Ferriero's quick confirmation by the Senate was never in doubt.[27]

David Ferriero giving opening address at 2011 Wikipedia in Higher Education Summit

Ferriero used the public occasion to express his view that the National Archives was at a "defining moment with regard to our existing electronic records, social media communications, and emerging technologies being used throughout government offices." He also noted "issues of collection security, the future of the Presidential Library system, backlogs in processing, staff job satisfaction, stakeholder relationships, preservation and storage needs."[28]

He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 6, 2009;[29] he was sworn into his new office on November 13, 2009.[30]

President Obama appointed Ferriero to simultaneously head the new National Declassification Center, which had "been given four years to go through 400 million pages of federal documents that remain top secret. They date to World War I."[31]

On January 13, 2022, Ferriero announced he would retire effective mid-April 2022 after a twelve-year tenure as Archivist of the United States.[32][33] He urged President Biden to "not hire another white male" to replace him, and said that he chose to retire at that point so that Biden could be the one to name his replacement.[34][35] Ferriero's retirement was effective on April 30, 2022, and Deputy Archivist Debra Steidel Wall took over as acting Archivist of the United States.[36][37]

Relationship with Wikipedia[edit]

As part of his tenure at the National Archives, Ferriero took an active interest in working with Wikipedia, of which he has called himself "a huge fan."[38] When questioned about the National Archives' engagement with Wikipedia, his response was that "the Archives is involved with Wikipedia because that's where the people are."[39] Under Ferriero's aegis, the National Archives worked with the Wikimedia Foundation since 2009, having had a Wikipedian in Residence and uploaded thousands of images to Wikimedia Commons. He quoted a blogger in saying: "If Wikipedia is good enough for the Archivist of the United States, maybe it should be good enough for you."[38][40]

Censorship of archival imagery[edit]

In January 2020, Ferriero supported the Archives' decision to censor a photograph containing signs critical of President Trump and references to women's anatomy in an exhibit devoted to the centennial of women's suffrage in the United States. The Washington Post reported that Ferriero "participated in talks regarding the exhibit and supports the decision to edit the photo." The alteration of the image was immediately criticized by historians, with Douglas Brinkley saying "to confuse the public is reprehensible. The head of the Archives has to very quickly fix this damage."[41] Subsequently, the National Archives issued an apology for the decision and promised to restore the original image and review its exhibit policies.[42]

Personal life[edit]

Ferriero married Gail Zimmermann, the daughter of MIT Professor Emeritus Henry Zimmermann.[43] Her career in broadcasting has led to her position as Associate General Manager of PBS North Carolina in Durham, North Carolina.[44] Before moving to North Carolina, she worked with WGBH-TV in Boston.[7]



  1. ^ David Ferriero's name is pronounced FARE-E-O, according to "Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing on Archivist of the U.S. Nomination," Archived 2010-01-30 at the Wayback Machine National Humanities Alliance, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Oder, Norman. "NYPL Reorganization Coming," Library Journal (October 1, 2007). Vol. 132, Issue 16, p. 12;
  3. ^ a b "David S. Ferriero Named Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of The Research Libraries at The New York Public Library" (press release). April 26, 2004.
  4. ^ Kamen, Al. "A New U.S. Archivist: David Ferriero," Washington Post. July 28, 2009.
  5. ^ Ruane, Michael E. (December 7, 2009). "Sharing a sense of history: Ferriero is first librarian in charge at National Archives". The Washington Post. washingtonpost.com. pp. B01. Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  6. ^ Nyul, Renata. "U.S. Senate confirms alumnus as U.S. Archivist" Archived 2010-11-16 at the Wayback Machine, Northeastern University Office of Marketing and Communications. November 6, 2009.
  7. ^ a b Donner, Nancy and Caroline Oyama. "David S. Ferriero Named Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of The Research Libraries at The New York Public Library, NYPL Press Relations. April 26, 2004.
  8. ^ "Duke's Ferriero to head NYPL Research Libraries," Library Journal (May 15, 2004). Vol. 129, Issue 9, p. 13.
  9. ^ Ferriero resignation Archived 2008-08-21 at the Wayback Machine, MIT Libraries Annual Report 1997-1997.
  10. ^ Northeastern University Alumni Affairs web site Archived 2010-04-26 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Duke Librarian David Ferriero to Join New York Public Library: Robert Byrd, director of the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library, will serve as Duke's acting university librarian after Ferriero's departure." Archived 2007-06-14 at the Wayback Machine Duke press release (2004).
  12. ^ "University Librarian Addresses Board of Trustees," Archived 2011-03-05 at the Wayback Machine Duke University Libraries, 17:2.
  13. ^ Oder, Norman. "Consortia Hit Critical Mass," Library Journal (February 1, 2000). Vol. 125, No. 2, p. 48.
  14. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence. "Arts briefing; Highlights -- Literary Lion." New York Times. April 26, 2004.
  15. ^ "NYPL head = Natl. archivist; New Catalog, Restructuring," Library Journal (August 1, 2009). Vol. 134, Issue 13, p. 11.
  16. ^ Ferriero, David and David Offensend. "Transforming NYPL," Library Journal (May 15, 2008). Vol. 133, Issue 9, p. 12.
  17. ^ Oder, Norman. "NYPL: Synergy on the Way?" Library Journal (February 1, 2005). Vol. 130, Issue 2, pp. 18-19.
  18. ^ Koppel, Lily. "Offering Enlightenment, or Just a Little Peace," New York Times. December 27, 2007
  19. ^ Partner Representatives, OCLC web site
  20. ^ OCLC described, OCLS web site Archived 2008-06-04 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "NYPL gives up Billings," Archived 2008-09-30 at the Wayback Machine BiblioTech Web. August 22, 2006.
  22. ^ Chan, Sewell. "With a New Classification System, the New York Public Library Makes a Change for the Clearer," New York Times. August 17, 2006.
  23. ^ Google Library Project partners
  24. ^ a b New York Public Library + Google
  25. ^ Library and Information Technology Association, "Contracting for Content in a Digital World"
  26. ^ Office of the Press Secretary (July 28, 2009). "Presidential Nominations sent to the Senate, 7-28-09". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2009-07-29 – via National Archives.
  27. ^ US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Governmental Affairs subcommittee hearing, October 1, 2009: Nomination of David S. Ferriero to be Archivist of the United States National Archives and Records Administration.
  28. ^ "Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing on Archivist of the U.S. Nomination," Archived 2010-01-30 at the Wayback Machine National Humanities Alliance, 2009.
  29. ^ Miller, Jason. "Senate confirms Ferriero to be next Archivist," FederalNewsRadio. November 6, 2009.
  30. ^ "David Ferriero Sworn in as 10th Archivist of the United States," NARA Press Release. November 13, 2009.
  31. ^ Archives director wants you to have access Archived 2010-01-17 at the Wayback Machine. News & Observer.
  32. ^ Ruane, Michael E. (January 13, 2022). "David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States, is retiring". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2022-01-13.
  33. ^ Ferriero, David S. (January 13, 2022). "Retirement of Archivist David S. Ferriero". AOTUS Blog | National Archives and Records Administration. Archived from the original on 2022-01-13.
  34. ^ "Retiring U.S. archivist to White House: "You better not hire another white male"". news.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2022-03-15.
  35. ^ Gonzalez, Oriana (March 15, 2022). "Retiring U.S. archivist to White House: "You better not hire another white male"". Axios. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  36. ^ Price, Gary (2022-04-29). "Library Organizations, Others Thank Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero Upon His Retirement This Week + Interview: "Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero Reflects on His Tenure Upon Retirement"". LJ infoDOCKET. Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  37. ^ "Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero Reflects on His Tenure Upon Retirement". National Archives. 2022-04-29. Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  38. ^ a b The ed17, "Young chapter shows experience beyond its years", accessed 17 July 2012.
  39. ^ Dominic McDevitt-Parks, "How does NARA avoid conflicts of interest on Wikipedia?" NARAtions: The Blog of the United States National Archives, 27 September 2012.
  40. ^ Wikimania 2012 Closing Plenary on YouTube by David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, see especially (15:00-16:00), and (22:50 - end).
  41. ^ Heim, Joe (17 January 2020). "National Archives exhibit blurs images critical of President Trump". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2020-01-19. Retrieved 27 May 2023.
  42. ^ "National Archives Apologizes for Alteration of Women's March Image". National Archives. National Archives and Records Administration. January 18, 2020. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  43. ^ Shapiro, Jeffrey H. (March 23, 2007). "In Memorium: Professor Henry J. Zimmermann, 1916-2007". rle AT MIT. Archived from the original on June 26, 2012. Retrieved January 1, 2016., Press Release
  44. ^ Washburn, Mark. "Funding Runs Low at Public Broadcasters," Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina). April 14, 2009.
  45. ^ a b c d e f PLUS Coalition, David Ferriero

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Archivist of the United States
Succeeded by