Society of Southwest Archivists

Kinga Perzynska receives 2004 Distinguished Service Award

Kinga Perzynska

The following tribute was written by her friends and colleagues at Rice University:

As some of you may already know, fellow archivist and dear friend of many, Kinga Perzynska, passed away on April 12, 2004, at age 54, in Houston, after several months’ struggle with cancer.

Kinga was a very active member of the archival community from the local to the international level, and mentor to students and professionals alike. Born in Poznan, Poland, she received her masters at the Adam Mickiewicz University in 1976, and accepted a position there teaching library science. She moved to the United States in 1984. Soon thereafter she began work at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, and in 1988 moved to Austin and joined the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center staff.

She was Director of the Catholic Archives of Texas, 1990-2001, where she implemented an automation and archival description network system and was involved in creative outreach and fund-raising activities for the Catholic Archives. In 1993, Kinga taught a course in family history at St. Edward’s University in Austin, and in 2001-2003 taught a graduate course in the management of archival records at Texas State University in San Marcos, shepherding many students through archival internships and providing invaluable guidance and advice on careers in archives.

In early 2002, Kinga became Head of Special Collections, Fondren Library, Rice University, where she made great progress on providing improved access to collections via EAD finding aids and planning complex digital archives projects. She also lobbied strongly for enforcing records practices at the university, and even during this short time, brought in many valuable research collections and developed positive donor and community relationships.

Kinga published and presented on many topics related to religious archives and archives in general; she wrote and directed many successful grant- funded projects, such as an NHPRC grant to provide automated access to the Spanish and Mexican Manuscript Collection, 1519-1890, at the Catholic Archives of Texas. She was active in the International Council on Archives (ICA), Society of American Archivists (SAA), Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA), and most recently, the Archivists of the Houston Area (AHA!). She was also the first woman named to the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, Vatican City, Italy, where she visited in 2003 and was granted an audience with Pope John Paul II.

Kinga was recognized by her peers on many occasions, including the Carlos Eduardo Castaneda Award from the Texas Catholic Historical Society (1996), Certificates of Recognition of Dedication to the Archival Profession from SAA (1998 and 1999), and the Sister M. Claude Lane Award (2001) from the Society of Southwest Archivists and Society of American Archivists in recognition of her significant contributions to the field of religious archives.

Anyone who knew Kinga also knew the great pride she took in her Polish heritage, as evidenced by her strong ties to the Polish communities here in the U.S., and by her service as a Board member for the Texas Chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation, dedicated to promoting educational and cultural exchanges between the United States and Poland, and increasing American understanding of Polish culture and history. Kinga could always be counted on to bring a Polish dish to a potluck event, and share a lively story or two about her homeland.

Kinga is survived by her daughter, Ruta, and husband, Bogdan; her brother Daniel and his wife Heidrun; parents Ryszard and Genowefa, and many other loving relatives and friends. She will be missed by all of us who have worked with her or had the privilege of spending time with her on committees or at conferences. Kinga will be remembered for the many ways she touched our personal and professional lives, and for her sharp mind, her kindness, her tireless passion and energy, and her particular and delightful wit.

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