Historic Staff Spotlight: Faye Geeslin

It’s Women’s History Month, and we are taking a look at past staff and their many contributions to the National Archives throughout history. Today’s staff spotlight is on Faye Geeslin, who served as the administrative assistant for three Archivists of the United States. 

Faye Geeslin (née Faye Killingsworth) was born on October 24, 1912, in Albany, Georgia. She attended Wesleyan College until 1933, when she married Ernest L. Geeslin. The couple lived in Washington, DC, where Ernest was employed as an attorney at the Department of Treasury. 

Geeslin came to the National Archives in 1940 as a junior clerk-stenographer working in the Office of Research and Publications. She became the administrative assistant to Archivist of the United States Solon Buck in 1943, and when Buck left the National Archives in 1948, she stayed on as third Archivist Wayne Grover’s assistant. 

In addition to the typical administrative duties—managing the schedule, overseeing correspondence, meeting and greeting visitors, and planning events—there were some nice perks to the job, too. She got to attend many special events, exhibit openings, and receptions at the National Archives. 

Geeslin also represented the Archivist at various times, such as in 1961, when she delivered a portable medicine chest that belonged to President James Madison to the White House. It had been taken when the British burned the Executive Mansion during the War of 1812 and returned to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. The chest had been on exhibit at the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, NY, and it was being loaned as part of First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s Fine Arts Committee for the White House. 

Geeslin was also active in the National Archives Association, serving on several of its committees over the years, including on the executive committee. She regularly helped type or proofread issues of their newsletter Archiviews and planned numerous social events. Often she would have the piano moved from the old theater for her to play for the occasion. One notable time was during the National Archives’ World War II memorial plaque dedication ceremony, when Geeslin played Kipling’s “Recessional” while her colleague Harry Forker sang.

When Archivist Wayne Grover retired in 1965, the National Archives Association held a going-away celebration. Grover’s subsequent thank-you note ended with, “Also, for a hard life as my Secretary (who naturally would know precisely what would please me most as going-away presents), emblazon the name Faye Geeslin somewhere on the list. God bless her and you and every single member of the whole NARS staff.”

Geeslin worked briefly for fourth Archivist Robert Bahmer, but she left the National Archives about a year into his tenure. Sadly, her husband, Ernest, passed away in 1975, and in 1977, Geeslin moved back to Albany, GA, where she lived for the remainder of her life. Faye Geeslin died on July 20, 2005.

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