Kenvi Phillips has joined the staff of the Schlesinger Library as its first curator for race and ethnicity.
An accomplished historian, Phillips holds a master’s in public history and a doctorate in US history from Howard University. Before coming to the Schlesinger, she worked at the Mary McLeod Bethune House in Washington and the Maryland–National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Most recently, she served as assistant curator for manuscripts and librarian for prints and photographs at Howard’s internationally renowned Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.
Jane Kamensky, the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the library and a professor in Harvard’s Department of History, says, “This long-planned position represents a pioneering effort, with few equivalents at other major special collections libraries and no others yet at Harvard. The new curatorship makes tangible and visible the library’s sustained commitment to building a more inclusive archive. I can’t wait to see the kinds of fresh thinking and new relationships that Kenvi will bring to the Schlesinger and to the Radcliffe and Harvard campuses.”
Phillips will work on building collections that document the intersections of gender, race, class, and ethnicity in American history, Kamensky says. Through personal outreach, public programming, and exhibitions, she will build relationships with people from communities that are currently underrepresented in the library’s collections.
“As we approach the Schlesinger’s 75th anniversary,” Phillips says, “I am truly delighted to be part of the next phase of developing the collections and community relations. I look forward to helping raise the voices and highlight the accomplishments of women who are underrepresented at the Schlesinger and often undervalued in American society.”