Dr. Harold T. Pinkett, The First African-American Archivist at the National Archives

Today’s blog is written by Alan Walker, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland

Harold T. Pinkett, born on April 7, 1914 in Salisbury, Maryland was the first African-American Archivist at the National Archives.  He graduated summa cum laude from Morgan College (now Morgan State University) in 1935, and received his master’s degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1938.  He was appointed to the position of Archivist at the National Archives in 1942, where he served as a specialist on records relating to agriculture.  Pinkett continued his education by earning his doctoral degree in history from American University in 1953.  His dissertation focused on the work of Gifford Pinchot, Chief of the Forest Service, in which Pinkett used records from RG 95 Records of the Forest Service, located at the National Archives.  Dr. Pinkett died on March 31, 2001.

 Dr. Harold T. Pinkett

Dr. Harold T. Pinkett forwarded this page from Ebony magazine to the Exhibits and Publications Branch and to the Archivist of the United States.

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No, the photography isn’t bad; neither is Dr. Pinkett’s career!

Dr. Pinkett published many articles regarding the holdings of the National Archives and issues of archival interest. Some topics included records of the Forest Service, investigations of federal record keeping practices, and the selective preservation of general correspondence. These articles are listed below:

  • “Records of Research Units of the United States Forest Service in the National Archives,” Journal of Forestry (1947).
  • “Investigations of Federal Record-keeping, 1887-1906,” American Archivist (1958).
  • “Identification of Records of Continuing Value,” The Indian Archives (1965).
  • “Selective Preservation of General Correspondence,” American Archivist (1967).

Here is a listing of African-American employees of the National Archives as of November 23, 1942.  Pinkett tops the list:

African American employees

Here is an excellent account of Dr. Pinkett’s life and archival career.

His legacy of archival excellence endures in the Society of American Archivists’ Harold T. Pinkett Minority Student Award, awarded annually since 1994 to outstanding minority students determined to advance the archival profession and the work of the Society.

Records shown above were found in RG 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, Press Clippings (NAID 7582964) and Subject Files (NAID 7563191) – file Committee on Fair Employment Practice.

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One Response to Dr. Harold T. Pinkett, The First African-American Archivist at the National Archives

  1. Barbara Hewins-Maroney says:

    Thank you for the information about Dr. Pinkett. I am investigating an attorney who lived in Omaha from 1907 until his death in the 1970s whose name was Harrison Pinkett. He was from Virginia, but lived in Washington, D.C. There may be a connection between the two Pinketts. I am interested in the intellectual climate of African Americans during the early 20th century.

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