Chicago Area Archivists (CAA) recently honored Janet Olson, Northwestern University’s Assistant University Archivist, for distinguished service to her professional community. Janet's dedication to the local archives community is inspiring. She was instrumental in the revitalization and optimal functioning of the Chicago Area Archivists organization. From 1999 to 2014 she has served as chair, treasurer and membership director, and overseen such initiatives as the formation of the steering committee, updating of by-laws, online presence including website, list-serv, and membership directory. She expertly fostered collaboration and quietly guided steering committee members to explore new ways of fulfilling the organization’s mission.
Janet’s professional experience as an archivist and her training as a Progressive Era historian converge at the Frances Willard House Museum and Archives in Evanston, Illinois, where she has volunteered since 2006. Her commitment to the Frances Willard Historical Association includes service as a board member, exhibit curator, docent, and archivist. In her capacity as the Volunteer Archivist at the Frances Willard House Museum and Archives and the Assistant University Archivist at Northwestern, Janet has mentored many undergraduate and graduate students seeking degrees in public history, museum studies, library science, and archival studies.
Fortunately for her colleagues, Janet’s professional generosity extends beyond the walls of the two Evanston institutions which benefit daily from her skills and experience. The success of many Chicago Midwest Archivists Conference (MAC) meetings is due in no small part to Janet’s tireless effort as co-chair or member of numerous local arrangement committees. Her enthusiasm and commitment to her city and archival community shine through and have enticed many MAC members to attend conferences hosted in Chicago. Janet has also served on MAC Nominating and Program Committees and recently completed her term as Council Member (2011-2013).
Although Janet claims that she is “just doing my job,” her efforts and contributions have been recognized and honored by her peers at MAC when she received the Distinguished Service Award in 2010. When she announced that her 2011-2013 term on the CAA Steering Committee would be her last, the Janet Olson Award was created in her honor. At the March 2014 CAA Members Meeting, Janet was the first recipient of the award.