Mike Kelly is the Head of the Archives & Special Collections at Amherst College, where he oversees the school’s collection of more than 80,000 rare books along with a host of archival and manuscript collections. He has worked in special collections for over twenty years; he spent eleven years as the Curator of Books at the Fales Library & Special Collections at New York University before coming to Amherst in 2009. He has held many positions within the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association, including a term as RBMS Chair in 2011-12, and he is an active member of the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM). He received his Master's in Library Science from the University of Texas at Austin where he spent two years as an intern at the Harry Ransom Center; he also holds an MA in English from the University of Virginia. In 2016, he was awarded the Reese Fellowship for American Bibliography and the History of the Book in the Americas by the Bibliographical Society of America for his work on the bibliography of Samson Occom, a member of the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut. He co-curated (with Carolyn Vega) the exhibition “I’m Nobody! Who Are You? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson” at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York which ran from January through May 2017. In the summer of 2018, Mike co-taught the course "A History of Native American Books & Indigenous Sovereignty" in Amherst for Rare Book School. He was elected to membership in the Grolier Club in 2005 and the American Antiquarian Society in 2016. Since January 2021, he has served as the co-chair of the Steering Committee on a Racial History of Amherst College.
M.L.S. The University of Texas, Austin, August 1996.
M.A. English. The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, August 1992.
B.A. English. Boston College, Boston, MA, May 1991.
Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of ACRL, American Library Association
Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM)
The Grolier Club, New York City
Elected to membership, Fall 2005
American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA
Elected to membership, April 2016
Senior Presidents’ Grant, Mellon Foundation, 2020
Awarded $250,000 to support enhanced scholarly and community access to the college’s Younghee Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg Collection of published works by Indigenous authors from North America.
Norfolk Charitable Trust, December 2018
Negotiated grant of $850,000 to accompany transfer of archival collections from the Norfolk Charitable Trust to Amherst College Archives & Special Collections. $100,000 to fund a temporary archivist plus a $750,000 endowment to fund student work with the collections.
Preservation Assistance Grant, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2017
Awarded $6,000 to fund preservation training and supplies for handling and storage of oversize materials at Amherst, run by the Northeast Document Conservation Center in summer 2018.
“The Digital Atlas of Native American Intellectual Traditions” IMLS National Leadership Grant: National Digital Platform Planning Grant. December 2015 – November 2016.
Awarded $49,000 to begin conversation around the idea of a Digital Atlas of Native American Intellectual Traditions. Worked with partners from the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums, DPLA, and Mukurtu, as well as representatives from the National Museum of the American Indian, the Newberry Library, and others. Followed up June 2016 meeting with multiple presentations at national conferences.
First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare. American Library Association. May 2016.
Successfully applied to host the Folger Shakespeare Library’s travelling exhibition. Coordinated extensive public programming and curated a complementary exhibition in support of this grant.
Hidden Collections Grant, Council on Library and Information Resources, June 2014-May 2016
Awarded $144,000 to fund one full-time processing archivist for two years to organize the archives of the Samuel French publishing company.
Helen Ingram Plummer Charitable Foundation, 2013
Awarded $10,000 to fund part-time archivist to organize and promote Merril-Magowan Family papers and related holdings at Amherst College.
Preservation Assistance Grant, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2010
Awarded $5,800 to fund three workshops at Amherst run by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC): “Storage Methods and Handling Practices,” “Identification and Care of Photographs,” and “Preservation of Scrapbooks.”
Processing Grant, National Historical Publications & Records Commission, October 2010 – December 2011
Awarded $56,000 to fund a full-time archivist for 14 months to process three archival collections documenting post-WWII politics and diplomacy.
Preservation Assistance Grant, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2009
Awarded $5,200 to fund a general preservation survey of the collections and facilities of the Archives & Special Collections, conducted by the Northeast Document Conservation Center.
Fellowships & Awards:
2016 Reese Fellowship for American Bibliography and the History of the Book in the Americas. Bibliographical Society of America.
Awarded funding to support further work on Samson Occom.
Research Leave, Amherst College. April – July 2015.
Short research leave supported by Amherst College Dean of Faculty
Goddard Research Leave, New York University, May-July, 2001
Lectures & Presentations:
“The Materiality of Native American Literature: Decolonizing the History of the Book.” Invited speaker for annual Lecture on the History of the Book. Northwestern University, Chicago. March 3, 2020.
“Indigenous Readers, Collectors, and Bookmakers.” Invited panelist. Reading the Ministry in the Americas, 1492-Present symposium. The Newberry Library, Chicago. October 2019.
“Samson Occom’s Networks of Print” Panelist. SHARP Conference on “Indigeneity, Nationhood, and Migrations of the Book” Amherst, MA. July 2019.
“An Introduction to the Native American Book.” Ran a pre-conference workshop limited to 15 participants. SHARP Conference on “Indigeneity, Nationhood, and Migrations of the Book” Amherst, MA. July 2019.
“It is Written: A Historic Overview of Works by Native Authors.” International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums, Prior Lake, MN. October 9-12, 2018.
“Decolonizing Special Collections: Collection Development for Diversity and Inclusion” The Past, Present, and Future of Libraries conference, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA. September 27-29, 2018. Session recording available via YouTube.
“The Moon, ‘Indian Medicine,’ and Scientific Racism.” Invited speaker during Bibliography Week at the New York Academy of Medicine, January 27, 2018.
“Mapping the Native American Book.” One of four panelists on the topic of “Digital Histories of the Book in America” at the MLA Convention, New York, January 7, 2018.
“Samson Occom and the Uses of Bibliography.” Invited speaker, Watts Program in the History and Culture of the Book, John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, November 2, 2017.
“Forum: Digital Atlas of Native American Intellectual Traditions.” Presentation and feedback session at the International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums, Albuquerque, NM, October 11, 2017.
“Giving Voice to Diverse Collections Through Digitization,” Panelist. ALA Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, June 24, 2017.
“Emily Dickinson: The Networked Recluse.” Opening lecture for the Morgan Library exhibition “I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson,” January 19, 2017.
“Exploring Samson Occom’s A Sermon, Preached at the Execution of Moses Paul, An Indian” Panelist. Omohundro Institute Annual Conference, Worcester, MA, June 25, 2016.
“Samson Occom and the Uses of Bibliography.” Invited speaker, Rare Book School 2016 Lecture Series, University of Virginia, June 13, 2016.
“Samson Occom and the Uses of Bibliography.” Panelist. C19 Conference, Penn State. March 16-20, 2016
“Digital Futures of Indigenous Studies Roundtable.” Invited speaker. John Carter Brown Library, Brown University. March 4-5, 2016
“Bibliography and Native American Bodies in the Revolutionary Era.” Invited speaker. Harvard Book History Seminar. February 10, 2016
C19 Circuit: Using and Protecting C19 Archives. Invited speaker. New York University. October 15, 2015
“Exploring Native American Literature through Collections and Digitization” International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums. Washington, DC September 12, 2015
“‘From an Uncommon Quarter’: The Printing History of Samson Occom’s ‘Sermon’” SHARP Conference. Montreal, Quebec. July 9, 2015
Panelist. “Digital Humanities and Special Collections: New Tools, Challenges, and Opportunities.” Rare Books and Manuscripts Conference, Oakland, CA, June 25, 2015.
“‘From an Uncommon Quarter’: The Printing History of Samson Occom’s ‘Sermon’” Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Conference, Washington, DC June 4, 2015
“Exposing Networks of Indigenous Literary History Through Metadata and Maps” Digital Antiquarian Conference, American Antiquarian Society. Worcester, MA May 30, 2015
“Combining Librarian Superpowers for the Greater Good: Building a Collaborative Model of Instruction with Archives & Special Collections” ACRL National Conference. Portland, OR March 27, 2015
“The Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Collection of Native American Literature” Native New England Conference. Durham, NH. October 29-November 1, 2014
Panelist. “Unveiling the Past: Hidden Diversity in the Archives” RBMS Preconference. Las Vegas, NV June 26, 2014
“Digital Dickinson at Amherst College” Faculty Resources Network Workshop, New York University, June 10-14, 2014
“The Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Collection of Native American Literature” Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Conference, University of Texas at Austin, May 2014
“Digitizing Dickinson for Context and Flexibility” C19 Conference, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, March 14, 2014
“Emily Dickinson’s Manuscript Fragments” The Drawing Center, New York, NY, December 2, 2013
Panelist. “Emily Dickinson Futures: Presentation and Editing of Her Writings” Emily Dickinson International Society Conference, College Park, MD, August 11, 2013
“Emily Dickinson and Amherst College” Emily Dickinson International Society Conference, Oxford, England, August 7, 2010
"Unleashing the Undigitized: Promoting and Accessing Traditional Historical Resources in the Age of Google.” American Library Association Annual Conference. Chicago, July 12, 2009.
“Art Spiegelman and His Circle: New York City Comix and the Downtown Scene.” Cultural Studies Association Conference. New York, May 23, 2008
“Reading Pictures, Burning Comics: New Perspectives on the History of Graphic Narrative” Panel chair. The Book History Colloquium at Columbia University, September 25, 2008
“Packaging Fiction: Cloth Bindings and the Marketing of Literature.” Guild of Book Workers symposium on 19th-Century Publishers Bindings. New York, February 22, 2008
“Moderninity: What Is It?” The Modernist Colloquium. New York University. December 14, 2007.
“The 18th Century Book in the Fales Library.” The Colloquium on Early Literature and Culture in English. New York University. February 6, 2007.
“BIBLIOMANIA: The Renaissance Book in the Fales Library.” The Colloquium on Early Literature and Culture in English. New York University. September 15, 2006
“New Romances of History: Opposition to Sir Walter Scott in Sedgwick and Paulding.” American Literature Association Conference, San Francisco, May 27, 2004.
“The Anti-Antiquarian: James Kirke Paulding’s Assault on Scott and the Rise of American Literary Nationalism.” International Sir Walter Scott Conference, University of Konstanz, Germany, July 2003.
Panelist. “What Are We Doing?” Reference Services in the 21st Century: Second Columbia University Libraries Symposium, March 15, 2002
“Revolutionary Fictions: An Exhibition of American Fiction about the American Revolution.” American Revolution Roundtable, guest speaker at semi-annual banquet, April 2001.
“Clearing copyright: An International Archival Perspective” (panel chair). Society of American Archivists annual meeting, September 2000.
“The Downtown Collection” (co-presenter). New York Archivists Roundtable, September 2000.
“Interns in Archives: Taking the Long View” Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, Spring 2000.
“The Victorian Book in the Fales Library” (co-presenter) Northeast Victorian Studies Association Conference, April 2000.
“The Reference Interview in the Archival Setting” Reference and User Services Association Panel, ALA Annual Meeting, 1999.
“Locating Copyright Holders: A New Solution to an Old Problem” (co-presenter) RBMS Preconference, Ithaca, NY, July 1996.
I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson, Guest-curator, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York City. January 20 – May 21, 2017. Invited to curate the largest exhibition of Dickinson manuscripts ever held outside of New England. This exhibition included loans from Houghton Library, Boston Public Library, New York Public Library, and Mount Holyoke College and drew more than 91,000 attendees.
Race and Rebellion at Amherst College. Archives & Special Collections, Amherst College, February – December 2015. Collaborated with members of the Amherst College Black Student Union to mount an exhibition about the history of student activism and black lives at Amherst College from the 1820s to the present.
Native Voices/Native Books: Introducing the Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection. Archives & Special Collections, Amherst College, February 12 – July 31, 2014. Curated exhibition to call attention to newly acquired collection at Amherst College. Organized opening reception featuring readings and performance by members of local Native American communities.
“Frazar is Killed!” Emily Dickinson and the Civil War. Archives & Special Collections, Amherst College, February – May, 2012. Curated exhibition and organized panel discussion of Dickinson and the Civil War. Participants included Jane Wald, Director of the Emily Dickinson Museum, and Martha Ackman, English Professor from Mount Holyoke College.
Native American Histories. Archives & Special Collections, Amherst College, September – January, 2011. Curated exhibition of Native American resources held at Amherst to coincide with Friends of the Library Fall residency by Frederick Hoxie, a specialist in Native American history.
The History of Scientific Illustration. Archives & Special Collections, Amherst College, February – June, 2011. Curated exhibition of natural history books and manuscripts to coincide with complementary exhibition held at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College.
Emily Dickinson and Print Culture, 1830-1930. Archives & Special Collections, Amherst College, May – September, 2008. Curated exhibition to coincide with the NEH Workshop on Dickinson hosted by the Emily Dickinson Museum. Two groups of twenty high school teachers from this program visited the Archives & Special Collections for a presentation of our original Dickinson materials.
The Illustrated Bird: Selections from the Richard L. Soffer (AC1954) Ornithology Collection. Archives & Special Collections, Amherst College, September – January 2008. Exhibition showcasing recently acquired ornithology collection to coincide with donor’s lecture during the Fall 2008 Friends of the Library event.
Writing Women 1700-1800. The Fales Library, New York University, April 2008. Worked with undergraduate and graduate students at NYU to curate a three-case exhibition of eighteenth-century materials on display during the conference of the same name on April 10-11, 2008.
Nothing New: The Persistence of the Bestseller. The Fales Library, New York University, March 29, 2007-May 31, 2007. Curated exhibition to coincide with the national conference of the Bibliographical Society of America on the theme of “Birth of the Bestseller” co-sponsored by Fales, The Morgan Library, and the Grolier Club.
James Joyce’s Ulysses. The Fales Library, New York University, September – December 2006. Collaborated with library donor and Joyce enthusiast Jesse Meyers to prepare an exhibition of items from Fales and Mr. Meyers’s personal collection of Joyce and Joyceana.
New Members Collect. The Grolier Club, New York, NY, June-July 2006. Prepared two cases of items selected from my personal collection of comic books for display in the annual exhibition by newly elected Grolier Club members.
Circles and Circulations in the Revolutionary Atlantic World. The Fales Library, New York University, October 1 – December 20, 2004. Collaborated with NYU graduate students to curate exhibition to coincide with Charles Brockden Brown Society Conference hosted in Fales, October 21-23, 2004.
The Fales Collection, Mamdouha S. Bobst Gallery, Bobst Library, December 2002-2010. Selected materials and prepared label text in collaboration with Marvin Taylor for Fales Library materials on semi-permanent display in the lobby of Bobst Library.
Revolutionary Fictions: An Exhibition of American Fiction about the American Revolution, The Fales Library, New York University, September 2000-May 2001. Researched and curated exhibition of 75 novels about the American Revolution ranging from 1792 to the present. Also organized opening lecture by Professor Karen Kupperman.
Facts & Fiction: The Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University. Fales Library, New York University, September 1999-February 2000. Selected materials and prepared label and catalogue text in collaboration with Marvin Taylor for major exhibition of highlights from the Fales collections. Supervised photography for exhibition catalogue.