Archivist Judith Schiff named city historian

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Judith Schiff

Judith Schiff, chief research archivist at Yale, has been appointed as city historian by New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.

Schiff, who is both a lifelong New Haven resident and a longtime Yale employee, succeeds the late Richard Hegel, who served as the first city historian until his death in February.

The city historian serves as the “go to” person for questions regarding local history. The position is unpaid.

Schiff’s research focuses on Yale, New Haven, and American history. She is a founder and past president of the New England Archivists and of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven. She is widely published on matters regarding Yale and New Haven history, including the Michelin Travel Publications’ “Green Guide to Yale and New Haven,” and the chapter on the “Social History of New Haven” in “New Haven: An Illustrated History,” edited by Richard Hegel.

Read a 2011 interview with Schiff in Working@Yale.

During her 50-plus-year tenure at Yale, Schiff has worked on such major Yale projects as the Tercentennial celebration, the World Special Olympics in New Haven, and the archives of Charles Lindbergh and his family, one of the largest and most valuable collections in the Sterling Library archives. 

Schiff’s role has evolved to include reporting, teaching, and museum work. Since 1987, she has penned the “Old Yale” column, which reflects on historical figures and events, in the Yale Alumni Magazine.

In November 2011, Yale presented the inaugural Edward Bouchet Legacy Award to Schiff in recognition of her work bringing to light the story of Yale’s first African-American graduate.

She has served as past president of the New Haven League of Women Voters and the Yale University Women’s Organization. Currently she serves on the governing boards of the Lindbergh Foundation, the New Haven Museum, and the Grove Street Cemetery.

“Professionally and as a volunteer, I enjoy researching and advising other researchers on history projects that enrich New Haven culturally and economically,” Schiff said. “I am deeply honored and wish to thank Mayor DeStefano and friends who supported me in achieving this recognition and look forward to contributing to the planning for the celebration of our city’s 375th birthday in 2013.”

“Judith Schiff is knowledgeable in all matters regarding New Haven history, and has consistently demonstrated a passion for New Haven’s past as well as a commitment to the betterment of its future,” said DeStefano.

Schiff’s appointment is until Dec. 31, 2013.

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