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HELMUTH, RUTH WALTER

HELMUTH, RUTH WALTER

HELMUTH, RUTH WALTER (29 Aug 1918-16 July 1997) founded the Western Reserve University archives, which rose to national prominence under her direction; pioneered methods for preserving institutional records and memorabilia; and developed a program for training archivists which became a model for similar efforts nationwide. She was born in Cleveland to Carl Frederick, a salesman, and Leda A. (Schneidemantel) Walter, a homemaker. After being elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1938, she earned her AB from Radcliffe College in 1939, and her MS from Smith College in 1940. She taught English in a Massachusetts secondary school, then returned to Cleveland where she worked in personnel and office management from 1942-1950. She began her long career at Case Western Reserve University as a contributing abstractor for the Review of Materials Literature produced by the American Society of Metals in Western Reserve University's documentation center. In 1964, Mrs. Helmuth founded the WRU archives working with a single student employee to build the collection. She was University Archivist from 1967, the year that WRU and Case Institute of Technology federated, until her retirement in 1985, when the CWRU board of trustees appointed her University archivist emerita. In the late 1960s, she developed an educational program for training archivists at CWRU, which incorporated coursework in the School of Library Science and the Department of History, becoming the nation's first double-degree archival program and a model for similar programs. From 1970-1980, Mrs. Helmuth developed and directed a workshop on college and university archives which offered postgraduate instruction to professionals in the field, again creating a model for other programs. In 1969, she became a founding member of the Society of Ohio Archivists, serving as its first secretary-treasurer until 1972. The Society gave her a special citation for meritorious service in 1974. From 1979-1980 she served on a panel that reviewed qualifications for the US archivist. In 1980-81 she helped review qualifications of the candidates for the directorship of the Gerald Ford Library. During 1981 she served as president of the Scoiety of American Archivists. Ohio Gov. James A. Rhodes appointed her to the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board. She married Donovan Edward Helmuth in 1947 and they had one daughter, Ann. Mrs. Helmuth died in her sleep and was cremated.