Margaret C

Margaret C. Norton

Margaret Cross Norton (1891 - 1984) served as the first State Archivist of Illinois, 1922–1957, and co-founded the Society of American Archivists in 1936, where she served as the first vice president (1936-1937) and president (1943-1945) as well as editor of the American Archivist (1946-1949).

Norton earned bachelor's and master's degrees in history from the University of Chicago and a BLS from the New York Library School in Albany in 1915.

Norton promoted the establishment of archives as a profession separate from history or library science and the development of an American archival tradition to emphasize an archivist-administrator role rather than historian-archivist. She encouraged learning through experimentation and communal discussion and emphasized technical rather than scholarly issues under her direction of The American Archivist.

By stressing the legal authority of government records, Norton believed archives could gain funding and government support through educating potential users about the legal protection records afford them.


  • Jimerson, Randall C. “Margaret C. Norton Reconsidered.” Archival Issues 26 (2001): 41-62.
  • Mitchell, Thornton W., Ernst Posner, and Randall C. Jimerson. Norton on Archives: The Writings of Margaret Cross Norton on Archival and Records Management. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1975; Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2003.
  • The Margaret Cross Norton working papers, 1924-1958, Record Series 103.226, Illinois State Archives.

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