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Abby Smith Rumsey

Abby Smith Rumsey

Abby Smith Rumsey

Historian and Writer

Abby Smith Rumsey is a historian of ideas. She writes and lectures widely on analog and digital preservation, online scholarship, the nature of evidence, the changing roles of libraries and archives, and the impact of new information technologies on perceptions of history, time, and identity. She is the author of When We Are No More: How Digital Memory is Shaping our Future (2016).

Rumsey served as co-director and director of the Scholarly Communication Institute at the University of Virginia (2002-2014); Director of Programs at the Council on Library and Information Resources (1997-2005); and managed programs relating to preservation of and access to cultural heritage collections at the Library of Congress (1988-1997). She was a member of the National Science Foundation’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Economics of Digital Preservation and Access, as well as writer and editor of its final report, “Sustainable Economics for a Digital Planet.” She served as an advisor to the American Council of Learned Societies’ Commission on the Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences. She was senior advisor to the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure Program. 

Rumsey holds a BA from Harvard College and MA and PhD degrees in Russian and intellectual history from Harvard University. She received a Fulbright Fellowship and IREX travel grant to the former Soviet Union and has taught at Harvard and Johns Hopkins. She serves on the Harvard Board of Overseers Committee to Visit the Harvard University Library, the Stanford University Library Advisory Committee, and the board of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.