AUGUSTA — In a confirmation hearing, the Maine Legislature's Committee on State and Local Government voted unanimously in support of Katherine McBrien for the position of Maine State Archivist.
McBrien, of Union, will be the first woman to hold the position.
“As Maines first female Secretary of State, its an honor and privilege to nominate Maine’s first female state archivist,” said Secretary of State Shenna Bellows Kate brings vision and forward-thinking to the position. “She has demonstrated the commitment and experience to bring Maine State Archives forward into the future to safeguard Maines most precious documents for generations to come.”
McBrien previously worked as chief curator at the Maine Historical Society and as curator of historic collections at the Maine State Museum. She has worked at museums and historical societies throughout her career and holds a master’s degree in Museum Studies and a bachelors degree in British history.
McBrien was first nominated by former Secretary Matt Dunlap in 2020, but confirmation was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Dunlap made McBrien a deputy secretary of state in April 2020 to serve as an acting archivist.
During her time working at the Archives, McBrien has overseen the removal of all the archival records and the offices due to the closure of the Cultural Building for repairs. She worked with the staff to use the challenging situation as an opportunity, focusing on completion of its first-ever inventory of all container holdings.
This inventory work, which had been underway for five years, will now be launched as an online, searchable catalog for the public within the month.
Members of the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government will send their recommendation to the Maine State Senate in the coming weeks to finalize the confirmation process.
The State Archivist is appointed to a six-year term, per Maine law. Maine has had only three State archivists since the Legislature created the Archives in 1965: Sam S. Silsby Jr., James Henderson and David R. Cheever.
“To serve as only the fourth Archivist in our state’s history, and the first woman to hold that position, is an extraordinary honor that I greatly appreciate and am humbled by,” said McBrien. “The Maine State Archives is the lynchpin to a transparent government for the people. In the Maine State Archivist position, I can bring both a clear focus to the serious work of the Archives and a fresh vitality to its commitment to public service.”
The Maine State Archives, a bureau within the Department of Secretary of State, maintains approximately 100 million pages of official State records considered to be permanently valuable.