The Schlesinger Library has lost a cherished colleague, a lover of archives, and one of our most devoted fans. Bert Hartry, who began working at the Library in 1978, died on September 16. During the early 1970s, Bert was a convening member of the Washington chapter of the Women's Equity Action League and director of WEAL's first national office. She was an ardent feminist, political junkie, and longtime Democrat, serving as Edward Muskie’s director of research for the Women’s Rights Division during his 1971–1972 campaign for President. Following her move to Boston in 1973, she was a fellow at the former Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College (later the Radcliffe Institute) where she studied the impact of the feminist movement on women and politics. She was also a member of the Massachusetts International Women’s Year Coordinating Committee, and, in 1977, was named delegate at large to the International Women’s Year conference in Houston.
Bert began her career at the Schlesinger Library working on a number of small collections, including the Female Bible Society of Boston and Its Vicinity, and in time became known as the go-to person in matters of microfilming. Because of her meticulous preparation, many of our most popular manuscript collections, including the papers of Emma Goldman, one of her favorites, were microfilmed and made available to those not able to visit the library in person. She indexed several of the Library’s most sizeable collections, such as those of Esther Peterson and Pauli Murray, providing folder-level access to writers and recipients of letters, work which will continue to benefit generations of scholars. After retiring in 1998, Bert continued to alert us to lectures we should not miss and women whose papers we should collect, with special emphasis on women in sports and the impact of Title IX on the lives of women and girls.
We will miss her wry sense of humor, her deep engagement with the Library’s mission, and her fierce faith in feminism and its potential to transform lives. A memorial service will be held in The Bigelow Chapel on the grounds of Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn St., Cambridge, on Sunday, October 25, 2015, at 2 p.m.