COLKET, MEREDITH BRIGHT JR. (18 Aug. 1912-19 May 1985), archivist and genealogist, was born in Strafford, Chester County, Pa., son of Meredith Bright and Alberta (Kelsey) Colket. He earned his B.A. (1935) and M.A. (1940) in history at Haverford College, and received an honorary Litt.D. from BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE in 1974. Colket joined the Natl. Archives in Washington, D.C., in 1937 as staff specialist, becoming genealogy and local-history specialist in 1950. He co-compiled A Guide to the Genealogical Records in the National Archives (1964), the first comprehensive finding aid of that institution. In 1957, Colket assumed the directorship of the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, becoming director emeritus upon his retirement in 1980.
Colket believed citizens could understand their American heritage through studying their family history. He published genealogical accounts of Anne Hutchinson and Katherine Marbury Scott (1936), the Fairbrothers (1939), Pelhams (1940-43), Jenkses (1956), Pelots (1980), and Chisholms (1984). His Creating a Worthwhile Family Genealogy (1968) is still a model for those publishing a family history. Colket also published Founders of Early American Families, Emigrants from Europe, 1607-1657 (1975, rev. ed. 1985). During Colket's tenure, the WRHS expanded its main plant on East Blvd. and acquired outlying properties, including the Jonathan Hale farm in Bath, Ohio. The library became one of the foremost local-history and genealogy research centers in America. Colket was a founder (1940) of the Assoc. for State & Local History and founder and first director (1950-60) of the Natl. Institute for Genealogical Research. In 1992, Colket was inducted into the National Genealogical Hall of Fame.
Colket married Julia Beatrice Pelot in 1945. They had three sons: William Currie, Meredith Bright III, and John Pelot. He was buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery of Philadelphia, Penn.