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Thomas Elton Brown

Thomas Elton Brown

2019 Distinguished Alumni

M.A. History '71, Ph.D. History '74

Tom Brown began a 30-year career at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., in 1976 when he joined a fledgling program being developed for the archival administration of “electronic records,” that is materials the Federal Government created using a computer.


This involved identifying those electronic records with historical value, acquiring physical custody, cataloging them and providing the public with access. In his last 13 years at the position, Brown managed this archival program.


His career began with the databases the military created during the Vietnam War and ended with the electronic mail from the Executive Office of the President.


Brown has authored 20 academic articles and has presented 50 papers at professional conferences. These related primarily to how to identify historical values in electronic records, to preference programs for electronic records, and to aspects of archival history that provide perspective for the management of contemporary electronic records. These writings earned him inclusions this year in The Encyclopedia of Archival Writers, 1515-2015, a compendium of 150 profiles of major authors on archival topics during the past 500 years. In 1996, Brown was elected a Distinguished Fellow of the Society of American Archivists, the professions’ highest individual honor. After retiring to Delaware, Brown “rekindled his grad school love affair with old paper” and volunteered with local historical societies.


In 2013, Governor Jack Markell appointed him to the Delaware Heritage Commission and Governor John Carney reappointed him in 2017.

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