Rachel Vagts


University of Wisconsin Madison
Madison, Wisconsin
Master of Arts: Library and Information Studies, Specialization in Archival Administration, 1997.
Gustavus Adolphus College  
St. Peter, Minnesota
Bachelor of Arts: Political Science and History, Gustavus Adolphus College, 1993 (Cum Laude).


Berea College (2014-present)
Berea, Kentucky
Head of Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library
Head of a vibrant special collections and archives department with superior collections documenting the history of Berea College and the Southern Appalachian Mountain region. The collection has particular strength in its sound and video collections; documenting traditional music and mountain culture.

    Grants administered:

  • Berea College Externally-Funded Special Collections and Archives Preservation and Access Grant, 2017-2020, over $200,000
  • National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) Archives Leadership Institute Grant, 2016-2018, $243,954
  • Berea College Externally-Funded Special Collections and Archives Preservation and Access Grant, 2015-2017, over $200,000
  • Berea College Externally-Funded Special Collections and Archives Preservation and Access Grant, 2014-15, over $200,000
  • Berea College Externally-Funded Special Collections and Archives Preservation and Access Grant, 2013-14, over $200,000

Luther College (1998 – 2014)
Decorah, Iowa
College Archivist, Library and Information Services
Administrator of college archives including reference, outreach, accessioning, processing, preservation, and records management.  Developed, implemented and currently administrate the campus-wide records management program including coordination of the confidential destruction for the entire campus.  Other duties include preservation support for Preus library, bibliographic instruction, creation and on-going maintenance of the archives division web site at and supervision of archives staff (1.5 FTE) and student assistants.  Serves as a member of the Library and Information Services management team.

    Grants administered:
            NHPRC Archives Leadership Institute Grant, 2013-2015, $216,150
            NHPRC Basic Processing Grant, 2010-2012, $119,898
            Historical Resource Development Grant, 2011-2012, $24,293
            Humanities Iowa Mini Grant, 2011, $3,000

Postville Project (2009-2014)
Decorah, Iowa
Project Co-Director
Co-Director of a Digital Collection project to document the history of Postville, Iowa before, during and after an historic immigration raid that took place on May 12, 2008.  Duties include developing a collection development policy, cultivating donors, supervision of project staff and obtaining grant funding to support the on-going operations of the project.

Archives Leadership Institute (2012-present)
Decorah, Iowa
Director of the NHPRC funded Archives Leadership Institute.  Duties include working with a six member steering committee and a five member teaching faculty to develop and implement the leadership institute, managing the fiscal and project reporting and over-seeing the institute staff.  Luther College will host the institute for three years (2013-2015).  The project was funded during a competitive grant process.

University of Maryland (1997-1998)
College Park, Maryland
Project Archivist
Duties include preparing the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter for preservation microfilming, extensive reprocessing of collection, updating web sites and developing the web site for the Katherine Anne Porter Society, acting as reference librarian for special collections and supervising student assistants.

State Historical Society of Wisconsin (1996-1997)  
Madison, Wisconsin
Project Archivist
Duties include appraising, arranging, describing, processing and microfilm preparation for more than 800 advertising scrapbooks (1906- 1979) of international advertising firm Foote, Cone and Belding and preparing a descriptive finding aid and inventory.


  • “Hanna and Marie Larsen at the Schreuder Mission in Zululand,” Essays and Reports, forthcoming.
  • “Building Effective Leaders:  Redesigning the Archives Leadership Institute,” in Management:  Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections, ed. Kate Theimer (Rowan and Littlefield, 2014), with Sasha Griffin.
  • “The Transforming Journey:  A Story of Service at Luther and Beyond,” Agora, Spring 2011.
  • A Guide to Norwegian-American Sources in the Luther College Archives and Preus Library/Registratur for Arkivet Preus Biblioteket, 2006 – editor.
  • "Clashing Disciplines:  Oral History and the Institutional Review Board," Archival Issues, Vol 26, No. 2, 2002.
  • "Reflections on Vocation and Advising," Agora, Spring 2001 – contributor.
  • "Confronting Diversity at Home," Agora, Winter 2001.
  • "The Things We Keep:  the Luther College Collections," Agora, Winter 2001 – contributor.
  • "Preserving Your Photographs," Oak Leaves, Spring 2000.
  • "Luther Legends," Agora, Fall 1999.


  • “Teaching the real bell hooks: Using Archives to Enhance Student Learning” Kentucky Women and Gender Studies Conference, Lexington, Kentucky, September 16, 2017.
  • “Sometimes You’re the Boat, Sometimes You’re the Wave: Responding to and Initiating Change in Digital Collections Stewardship” presented with Daniel Weddington at the DLF Liberal Arts Preconference, Vancouver, British Columbia, October 25, 2015.
  • “From Zero to Sixty:  Creating the Archives Leadership Institute 2.0” Midwest Archives Conference, Indianapolis, Indiana, April 19, 2013.
  • “Illuminating Hidden Collections in College Archives” Iowa Library Association/Association of College and Research Libraries, Decorah, Iowa, May 25, 2012.
  • “From Norwegian to American: Luther College and the Americanization of the Zulu Mission” Norwegian-American Historical Association of Norway, Decorah, Iowa, June 14-17, 2011.
  • “The Transforming Journey:  A Story of Service at Luther and Beyond,” Paideia Text and Issues Lecture Series, Decorah, Iowa, March 29, 2011.
  • "There's Gold in Those Boxes in the Basement:  Making the Most of a Cast-Off Collection and Actually Getting to Keep the Results!" Society of American Archivists, Washington, DC, August 10-15, 2010.
  • “Hanna and Marie Larsen at the Schreuder Mission in Zululand,” Lutheran Historical Conference, Wagner College, New York, October 11-14, 2008. 
  • "Convergence: R[e]volutions in Archives & IT Collaboration," Society of American Archivists National Meeting, San Francisco, California, August 26–30, 2008. 
  • "The Role of the College Archivist in a merged library/technology department," Midwest Archives Conference, Louisville, Kentucky, April 17-19, 2008.
  • "Managing Student Assistants in Archives," Midwest Archives Conference, Bloomington, Indiana, October 2, 2005.
  • "Hidden Gems:  Spreading the News about the Collections at the Luther College Archives," Midwest Archives Conference, Des Moines, Iowa, October 30, 2004.
  • "The Luther College Archives Guide to the Norwegian Collections," Norwegian-American Historical Association-Norge, "Norwegian-Americans in a Nation of Nations," Bergen Norway, June 26, 2003.
  • "Clashing Disciplines:  Oral History and the Institutional Review Board," Midwest Archives Conference, Indianapolis, IN, October 19, 2001.
  • "Even at Gustavus...and Luther...and St. Olaf:  Student Activism in the 1960s,"  Keynote address at the Phi Alpha Theta Induction dinner, Lambda Omega Chapter of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, May 7, 2001.
  • "More on Marianne Moore:  Programming with Orphan Collections," presented with Dr. Nancy Barry at the Midwest Archives Conference, Chicago, IL, May 4, 2000.


Society of American Archivists.
            Distinguished Fellow, elected 2018.
            Council Member, 2014-2017.
            Chair, Membership Committee, 2011-12.
            Annual Meeting Task Force, Social Responsibility Subcommittee Chair, 2011-2013.
            College and Universities Section
                        Steering Committee, Member, 2007-2010.
                        Vice Chair/Chair Elect, 2012-2013.
                        Chair, 2013-2014.
Midwest Archives Conference. 
            Chair of Program Committee for Spring 2003 meeting and Spring 2012 meeting.
            Member of Local Arrangements Committee for Fall 2004 meeting.
            Member of Program Committee for Spring 2006 meeting and Spring 2010 meeting.
Consortium of Iowa Archivists. 
            Hosted 2002 and 2007 annual meetings at Luther College.   
Kentucky State Historical Records Advisory Board, Board Member. 2015 - present.
Iowa State Historical Records Advisory Board, Board Member.  2007-2013.
Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium, Board Member.  2004-2006.
State Historical Society of Iowa Technical Advisory Network, Consultant. 


Berea College Student Government Association Faculty Advisor, 2016 - 2019.
Luther College Community Assembly, Administrative Staff representative,     2006-2007.
Luther College Human Subject Review Board, Administrative Staff representative, 2004-present.
Luther College Sesquicentennial Celebration Planning Committee, 2003-2011.
Luther College Collection Committee, Member on-going, Chair 1999-2000, 2006-2007, 2012-2013.


Language skills - Norwegian (basic), Spanish (basic)

Institutes and Workshops attended:

   Digital Preservation Management 5 day Workshop
January 2012
   Archives Leadership Institute
July 2010
   Implementing DACS in Integrated Content Management Systems: Using Archon
August 2009
   NITLE: Digital Audio Workshop
March 2008
   Describing Archives:  A Content Standard
March 2006
   Building Digital Collections 
August 2005
   OCLC Copyright Symposium 
November 2003
   AMIA Basic Training Workshop (moving images) 
November 2003
   Disaster Response and Recovery 
May 2002
   Relational Database Design
August 2001
   Database-Driven Web Sites
August 2001
   Architectural Records:  Identification, Preservation and Access
October 2000
   Introduction to Information and Records Management for Educational Institutions 
May 2000
   Care of Library and Archival Materials 
June 1999
   Preservation Planning for Museums, Historical Societies, Libraries and Archives
June 1999