Matt Rutherford, Curator of Genealogy and Local History at the Newberry Library, has been selected as the 2023 recipient of the National Genealogical Society's (NGS) Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship. According to the NGS, the award honors Matt's "leadership and service to the genealogists, family historians and library patrons at the Newberry Library and throughout [his] career." The highest honor for librarians whose primary focus is genealogy and local history, the Filby Award has been granted annually since 1999. It is named for P. William Filby (1912–2002), former director of the Maryland Historical Society and author and editor of many essential genealogical resources. The award is sponsored by ProQuest and includes a $1,000 prize.
Matt became the Newberry's Curator of Genealogy and Local History in 2009, having previously served as Reference Librarian for Local and Family History since 2004. With Jack Simpson, he co-authored A Bibliography of African-American Family History at the Newberry Library in 2005. This work has become a widely distributed and frequently consulted work for those working on African-American genealogy not only at the Newberry, but far beyond.
“For nearly 20 years, Matt has been a source of knowledge and inspiration for Newberry readers. His commitment to all those who visit the Newberry to seek out their family histories is extraordinary, and we are thrilled to see him being honored by the National Genealogical Society,” says Alice Schreyer, Roger and Julie Baskes Vice President for Collections and Library Services at the Newberry.
Matt has helped thousands of Newberry readers with their genealogical research at the library and thousands more via email and other correspondence, as well as in his teaching Newberry classes on genealogy and the writing of research guides and blog posts. Additionally, he regularly speaks to genealogy groups on areas of specialized research, including adoptions, pre-Fire Chicago, and census history.
In the words of researcher Arlene Hausman, “I have had the pleasure of working with Matt for almost 20 years, and I look forward to continuing to do so. His expertise has helped me immensely over the years and helps my family history research to overcome stumbling blocks with suggestions I had not considered.”
Researcher Jim Reynolds adds, “I appreciate Matt's courtesy in extending himself to my research efforts. Thanks to him and his staff, I found a number of stories that add previously unpublished 'color' to my work.”
In the words of local historian and collection donor T. Bradford Willis, DDS, “It has been my pleasure to work with Matt for the past ten years in building the Newberry’s collections for future researchers. He is very deserving of this high honor bestowed by the National Genealogical Society.”