Ilchman Award Honors Archivist Owen
Patti Owen ’51, a Sarah Lawrence employee for 50 years and the person most responsible for modernizing the College Archives, received the 2002 Alice Stone Ilchman Award at the all-College faculty-staff meeting in Reisinger Hall on September 10.
The framed award citation begins, “Patti Owen, if we could guarantee that you would always be here, we wouldn’t need an Archives. It is safe to say that no one knows more about Sarah Lawrence College. Few have had a longer association with Sarah Lawrence than you; few so passionately love, defend and believe in what the College has been, is and will be.”
“Driven,” “persevering” and “committed to Sarah Lawrence” are descriptions Owen’s name evokes from faculty and staff who know her. Starting at the College in 1952, she worked part-time and full-time in the library until 1994, when she retired to become Archivist. Determined to preserve and share the history of the college she loved, Owen re-shaped the Archives, rescuing a trove of Sarah Lawrence artifacts from musty boxes that were moldering in forgotten corners of the campus and categorizing, labeling and preserving them in accordance with the principles of archival science.
Under her direction, the Archives collected the papers of such legends as Adda Bozeman and Bessie Schönberg and the Center for Continuing Education and Health Advocacy programs. Owen also formalized the oral history project, extended conversations with retiring faculty about their lives. Recognizing that alumnae/i could be of valuable help in illuminating the past, she would set out unlabeled photographs at Reunion for former students to help identify. Today, Archives is a resource for SLC faculty, students and alumnae/i, as well as outside researchers.
The Alice Stone Ilchman Award recognizes outstanding service to the College by members of the faculty or staff. Previous honorees were President Emerita Alice Ilchman, Alumnae/i Liaison and former Assistant to the President Libby Kane ’81, Secretary of the College and Special Assistant to the President Priscilla Hawkins, and Geraldine Branca, longtime supervisor of the Westlands Desk.