Remembering Brenda Banks

On July 25, 2016, archivist, colleague, mentor, friend, and leader Brenda Banks passed away. The Women Archivists Roundtable created a post on the blog where colleagues and friends could share their memories and thoughts about Banks for WAR to add to a compilation post. Thank you to everyone who shared comments!

Rebecca Hankins:

The Archivists and Archives of Color Roundtable (AACR) and the large number of African American archivists are testimony to the strength of Brenda Banks contributions to archives and the archival profession. She will be missed!

Audree D. Irons:

I first met Brenda in the early 90’s while working as the Administrative Assistant for the Women’s Research and Resource Center at Spelman College. I remember being so impressed with her simply because she was the FIRST African American archivist I’d ever met which was unheard of! My most memorable moment of her in action was when she assisted Spelman in obtaining Audrey Lorde papers! She will be missed, but not forgotten. Thank you Brenda for sharing your passion and expertise in documenting our history for future generations as well as opening up this field for other African American women to follow.

Chiyoko Ogawa CA:

It was late 1994 when Brenda visited Japan as a member of ICA PDP–program for disaster preventiion. Besides many official meetings PDP members found time for sight seeing and visited an ancient shrine at Kamakura. It was a beautiful day and we happened to see a traditional Japanes wedding ceremony.


Brenda was fierce! I will never forgot the time in the 1990s she cornered me at the Georgia Archives – I was doing some consulting there and was also managing editor of the SGA journal “Provenance” at the time.

She came at me, and I could see by her face she was displeased. I trembled. Brenda demanded to know why a particular Georgia archivist had published with MAC and not with SGA!? I hand no clue, and I don’t think that was a good answer….oh, my….I made it my business from that moment on to attempt to find out who of our archivists planned to publish where.

Brenda was full of surprises! Another great memory I have of her centered on our attending an SAA meeting in the mid to late 1990s, it may have been in St. Louis, or Pittsburgh. One evening several of us were in Brenda’s room chatting. Suddenly she looked at me, grabbed my hand and said “I’m going to give you a manicure!” What a shock, especially after our GA Archives run-in. Well, she gave me a manicure right then and there, and it was delightful. I will never forget it.

Brenda was one-of-a-kind and will be missed by all who knew her.

Dianne Valentin:

This is such sad news.

James F. Cartwright:

Having just read of Brenda’s passing, I belatedly write to you to say I appreciate Brenda’s friendliness and welcoming when I was a relatively new archivist. Though she was heavily involved in various leadership roles, she also took time to learn my name, to say hello. This was very important to me. She was highly professional and contributed much to the archival profession. Her leadership and scholarship are well established. I hope you find consolation in your loss.