#MCN50 – The MCN Archives

In fifty years, MCN has collected a lot of history.

The principle repository for MCN’s records is the Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA) in downtown Washington DC. MCN records totaling nearly fifty boxes are spread across six record groups at SIA. These collections include everything from news articles and financial records to board minutes and conference programs.

Card catalogue in the MCN archives

On January 26th and 27th, volunteers from the #MCN50 history team met at SIA for two days of solid research. We organized ourselves into pairs to take on three targeted subjects: founding history, past conferences, and historical partnerships. We dove into twenty boxes over the course of these first two days. Some critical documents were photocopied on site so we could scan them later, while others were quickly captured and tweeted through our mobile devices. About 600 pages of material were marked for digitization by SIA, including old conference programs that are not yet digitally available on the MCN website.

The archive dive had the dual benefit of solidifying our understanding of MCN’s history while also surfacing some unexpected details. Some highlights include:

  • Board member lists to build an almost comprehensive board timeline from founding to present
  • An early history of MCN written by David Vance in 1986
  • Founding documents, incorporation papers, and decades of correspondence
  • A 1973 article in Museum News aptly titled “Museums and Computers: Strange Bedfellows”


Now, the #MCN50 history team is pooling its data together and building content to share. In the months leading up to the #MCN2017 conference, the history team will be writing regular blog posts on some of the interesting findings from the January archive dive.

The search has just begun! Do you know of another institution that may have MCN archival records? What kind of MCN stories and swag have you collected from previous conferences? Please leave your insights and feedback in the comments below.

Special thanks to the Smithsonian Institution Archives for their wonderful support, and to the amazing #MCN50 history team volunteers for coming to DC and diving into the collection!







The #MCN50 History Team: Marla Misunas, Chuck Patch, Darren Milligan, David Bridge, Diane Zorich, Leslie Johnston, and Charles Zange