He’s served as the University of Iowa’s institutional memory for the last 21 years, which includes writing the beloved Old Gold series. Now, University Archivist David McCartney is starting a new chapter.
McCartney, who is retiring on March 1, has been dedicated to ensuring access to Iowa’s history and also highlighting voices that are underrepresented in the University Archives. Throughout his career, McCartney also developed relationships across campus, working with classes or faculty in every department, as well as with many different people throughout the state, region, and beyond.
“David has tied together research questions and historical threads across campus, from the College of Medicine to the School of Art and Art History. He has such a passion for constantly learning more about the people and events represented in our collections and for uniting materials with those who need them,” said Margaret Gamm, director of Special Collections & Archives in the University of Iowa Libraries.
After publishing an award-winning article on the life of UI student Stephen Smith, a young man from Marion, Iowa, who found his voice through civil rights activism in the 1960s, McCartney organized the Historical Iowa Civil Rights Network to bring together related repositories and collections from across the state. He also established the Stephen Lynn Smith Memorial Scholarship for Social Justice. David has served as a consultant for many smaller archives and libraries throughout the Midwest, and volunteers much of his time with smaller nonprofit organizations. In addition, McCartney received the 2020 Staff Excellence Award from the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. He’s also held many positions in the Midwest Archives Conference, including president, and made invaluable contributions to the Big Ten Academic Alliance University Archivist Group and the Consortium of Iowa Archivists.
Throughout his time at the University of Iowa, McCartney has proven to be not only a leader in his field, but an advocate for growing the archives to include the many voices that make up Hawkeye history, as demonstrated in the current Main Library Gallery Exhibit “We Are Hawkeyes: Celebrating 175 Years of Student Life at the University of Iowa.” Curated by McCartney, along with Denise Anderson and Aiden Bettine, the exhibit is a fitting final showcase of McCartney’s work of collecting and lifting all voices to be heard.
“David’s contributions and dedication during his time serving as university archivist are unmatched,” said John Culshaw, Jack B. King University Librarian. “We wish him well and know that current and future generations will continue to benefit from his preservation of university history.”
You can read McCartney’s Old Gold series throughout the years here
For more, check out The Daily Iowan’s article about David’s retirement.
University Libraries is now reviewing applications for the university archivist position and would like to have someone begin serving in the role in the next several months.