Special Collections & University Archives staff image for Elspeth Olson.

Elspeth Olson

Assistant Professor, Outreach and Public Services Archivist


As Outreach and Public Services Archivist, I run several aspects of the public-facing work of Special Collections and University Archives. I manage the reading room and answer reference questions via email, web form, telephone, and social media. I am in charge of the SCUA exhibits here on the third floor, and am frequently the curator when I am not supporting the work of a guest curator. Finally, I work with departmental faculty to enhance students’ educational experiences through instruction sessions and assignment support here in the archives, in which students develop hands-on primary source research skills using our unique and antiquarian materials.


MLIS, Library and Information Studies, University of British Columbia

MA, History, San Francisco State University

BA, History, Stanford University

Selected publications and presentations

Olson, E. A. (2023, March). Mind the Gap: Addressing Archival Silences in Item Not Found: Accounting for Loss in Libraries, Archives and Other Heritage and Memory Institutions, Los Angeles, CA.

Olson, E. A. (2023). Search Terms, Finding Aids, and Archival Silences. AM Research Methods: Interrogating Colonial Archives and Narratives. Marlborough: AM.

Olson, E. A. (2023). Mrs. His Name: Reparative Description as a Tool for Cultural Sensitivity and Discoverability. Journal of Western Archives, 14, 19 pages.

Black, L., Olson, E.A., and Segers, H. (2024). Teaching by Anecdote: An Introduction to Experiential Learning with Primary Sources in RBMS Momentum (Rare Books and Manuscripts Section 2024 Conference), Costa Mesa, CA.