Wednesday, March 9, 2016

In Memory of Bill Bigglestone (1924-2016)

Bill Bigglestone in 1986

Bill Bigglestone, Oberlin College’s first Archivist (1966-1986), died Sunday, February 20, 2016, in Tucson, Arizona.  He was 91 years old. 

Bill received his B.A. in history from the University of Arizona and a M.A. in history from Stanford University.  Prior to coming to Oberlin, he worked as an archivist at the National Archives and Records Administration and as corporate archivist for Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio.

Marly Merrill, Oberlin affiliate scholar and friend wrote:

“As Oberlin College's first archivist, Bill Bigglestone's abilities, interests and personality fitted the challenges awaiting him in 1966. In his twenty-year archival administration here, he successfully organized a massive array of documents and records that dated back to the College and town's founding in 1833. He also acquired many new institutional and private papers that kept enriching the core collection, and he continued to create user-friendly finding guides to them all.

His deep interest in and knowledge of Oberlin's early racial history inspired him to write or edit a number of articles and two books on the subject that are now widely used by scholars and students.

Trained by Bill as an archival volunteer, I later became a steady user of the Oberlin Archives and a longtime friend. I will always treasure his easy and unassuming perfectionism, his quiet, dry sense of humor, and the way he went about his work in his steady, unflappable and totally committed way.”

Bill provided us with a great foundation that continues to help us to preserve and make available the rich history of Oberlin.  We will always be inspired by his commitment to Oberlin and his efforts to make the Archives a welcoming place for campus and community members and visiting researchers.