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Bridget Burke Named Director of UW American Heritage Center

February 9, 2016
head portrait of woman
Bridget Burke is the new director of the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center. (NDSU Photo)

Bridget Burke has been named director of the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center (AHC), one of the nation’s premier repositories of manuscript collections. She begins the position July 1.

“She has a passion for fostering collaborative scholarship, and she will continue to promote the accessibility of the AHC’s internationally recognized archival collections to the people of Wyoming and to researchers of national and international prominence,” says David Jones, UW vice president for academic affairs.

Burke comes to UW from North Dakota State University, where she has been dean of libraries since 2014. She began her career in the New York Public Library and the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution. Burke was an assistant curator at Yale University with the Western Americana Collection of the prestigious Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection, a premier collection internationally recognized for its significance regarding study of the American West.

Additionally, Burke curated the Art of the Book Collection of the Sterling Library at Yale, and directed the Alaska and Polar Regions Collection at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

Internationally known for its historical collections, the AHC serves the students and citizens of Wyoming, and also sponsors a wide range of scholarly and popular programs including lectures, symposia and exhibits.  

Many universities have primary source repositories, but few have repositories as extensive and significant as the AHC, which is a resource for the public and for both undergraduate and graduate students. 

Burke is recognized for bringing people together with archival collections for memorable public events. At Boston College, for example, she brought archival specialists together with musicians to perform and record a piece of choral music that had been identified in her archival collection.

"Our success is gauged not only by the metrics of what we hold (in collections), but by the conversations we prompt, the stories we elicit, and how we model ways to think about the past and live in the present,” Burke says.

Burke received her B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin in 1984, an M.L.S. in library and information studies from the University of Wisconsin in 1986, and an M.A. in liberal studies (American history) from Wesleyan University in 2001.


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