VIRGINIA C. PURDY

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  • "Dr. Purdy was my first supervisor at the National Archives..."
  • "May I offer my deepest sympathy to the family of Virginia..."
    - Jerry Wallace
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PURDY VIRGINIA CARDWELL PURDY Virginia Cardwell Purdy, aged 92 years, passed away peacefully at her home, Goodwin House Alexandria, on May 22, 2015 from coronary artery disease. She was born August 1, 1922 in Columbia, South Carolina as the younger of two daughters to Thomas Davant Cardwell and Nannie Berry Edmonds. She received her B.A. from the University of South Carolina in 1942 and her M.A. (1960) and Ph.D. (1970) in history from the George Washington University. After college, she taught in the South Carolina public schools. She met her husband, Donald Roderick Purdy, during the war, and they married on June 4, 1946 in Columbia. Her husband's graduate studies and his career as a Federal meteorologist took them to a number of cities across the country: Baton Rouge, LA Chicago, IL, Gainesville, FL, Boston, MA, Seattle, WA, Oak Ridge, TN and Cincinnati, OH. They settled permanently in the DC area in 1957. It was then that Virginia began her own graduate studies and her career as a Federal historian and archivist. She was a reference librarian in American State and Local History at the Library of Congress, 1964-1966. At the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, she was Assistant Historian, 1966-1969, and Keeper of the Catalog of American Portraits, 1969-1970. In 1969, she moved to the National Archives where she remained until she retired in August 1989. While at the Archives, she worked in Exhibits and was the Director of the Education Division, the Microfilms Publications Coordinator, and the Specialist in Women's History. She lectured often and published a number of articles on Federal records documenting the history of American women and on the use of Federal documents in historical research. She was the first president of the National Archives Assembly, a professional organization of Archives employees created in a turbulent era to provide a vehicle for communicating employee concerns. She was active in the Society of American Archivists and was editor of the Society's journal, The American Archivist, 1978-1980, and in 1981 she was named a Fellow, the SAA's highest honor. Virginia and her husband were opera lovers and avid square dancers. They traveled extensively throughout the U. S., England, and Europe. After Don's death in June 1983, Virginia traveled to China, Eastern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Costa Rica. Throughout her life, she shared space with a long line of much loved cats. There will be a memorial service at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, June 26 at Goodwin House Alexandria, 4800 Fillmore Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia.

Published in The Washington Post on June 7, 2015