Historic Staff Spotlight: Lucille Joppy

We are taking a look at past staff and their many contributions to the National Archives throughout its history. Today’s staff spotlight is Lucille Joppy, who served as president of the union that represented National Archives employees in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.

Lucille B. Joppy (née Lucille Briscoe), was born in Washington, DC, on November 19, 1913, a fifth-generation Wash­ingtonian. She attended Dunbar High School and Howard University and worked as a beautician and practical nurse before joining federal service. 

Joppy started her National Archives career at the Alexandria Records Center. The National Archives began creating Federal Records Centers in 1950, and one of its earliest facilities was housed in the old Naval Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia. Located on the waterfront, it housed federal records from the Mid-Atlantic region as well as the National Archives World War II Records Division.

Joppy’s main responsibility was servicing Navy ship plans, which were often consulted when ships needed to be rebuilt or renovated. Jolly first worked with the plans at the Navy’s Records Management Center before they—and she—came to the National Archives. Then when the Washington National Records Center (WNRC) in Suit­land opened in 1968, the files were moved from the Alexandria Records Center to Suitland. Joppy went as well and spent the rest of her National Archives career at the WNRC.

In 1972 Joppy was elected president of local 2578 of the American Federation of Government Employees—the union that represented employees of the National Archives in the Washington metropolitan area. 

Joppy first dipped her toe into union activities in 1960, when she was appointed as an alternate on the Employees’ Council for the General Services Administration (GSA) from Region 3—the National Archives was under GSA at that time. Joppy said the high point for the union was the early 1960s, when President John F. Kennedy encouraged agreements between unions and federal agencies.

As union president, one of her first orders of business was to lead the union negotiating team to reach an exclusive bargaining agree­ment with National Archives management. During her time as president, she also sought an increase in agency morale, better working conditions, and more advancement opportunities and equal pay for women and people of color. 

Toward the end of her National Archives career, Joppy started taking records manage­ment courses. She moved to the Accession and Disposal Branch at Suitland, which was in charge of working with agencies to transfer records into the Federal Records Center system. She retired from the National Archives in December 1979.

Lucille Joppy died on March 9, 2003, at age 89. She is buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Suitland, Maryland.

February is Black History Month. Visit the National Archives website for more information on our resources related to African American history.

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