Kennesaw State special collections curator selected for multicultural fellowship

KENNESAW, Ga. | Apr 27, 2022

JoyEllen Williams, special collections curator for Kennesaw State University’s Department of Museums, Archives and Rare Books, has been chosen as a Rare Book School-Andrew Mellon Cultural Heritage Fellow for 2022-2024.

The Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Diversity, Inclusion and Cultural Heritage is a partnership between the Rare Book School and the Andrew Mellon Foundation. Its stated mission is to advance multicultural collections through innovative and inclusive curatorial practice and leadership.

JoyEllen Williams

Williams has been selected for a cohort of 15 fellows who come from diverse backgrounds and work in special collections of historical materials. Each participant has identified with diverse racial or ethnic communities or works primarily with collections that document minority, immigrant and non-Western cultural traditions.

The competitive, three-year fellowship provides several opportunities for professional growth and leadership development. The RBS-Mellon CH fellows will attend Rare Book School’s seminar-style courses, host a special collections/rare book symposium at their home institution, engage in project-based working groups, receive funding to attend the annual Rare Books and Manuscripts Section conference and other conferences, and participate in a cultural heritage field school to meet prominent leaders in the field of special collections.

“This fellowship is providing us with tools we need to advance ourselves and the multicultural collections that we care for,” Williams said. “I look forward to collaborating with colleagues and recognizing the work that needs to be done to connect communities with special collections and ensure the preservation of this material.”

Williams hopes to bring these special collections to the public in various ways, both virtually and in person. By focusing on collection development, collection management and outreach initiatives, she seeks to amplify the voices of diverse communities, organizations and people who created the rich historical resources we rely on today.

“Many people feel that there are barriers to interacting with historic material. My role is to help people see themselves in these collections to know that they are worthy and deserving of encounters with these materials,” Williams said. “It’s up to us as archivists and memory workers to make sure we cultivate these collections so that as many voices are captured as possible.”

– Ana Johnson
Photos submitted

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit