Friday, January 29, 2016

In Memoriam: Longtime UNO Librarian Marie Elizabeth Windell

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Former longtime University of New Orleans librarian Marie Elizabeth Windell died Tuesday, Dec.  29, 2015, in St. Joseph, Mo. She was 96.

A Missouri native, Windell came to New Orleans with her husband of 37 years, George Windell, the UNO history department’s first coordinator of graduate studies, in 1969. She served as an adjunct instructor of French history in the early 1970s before joining UNO’s library staff in 1979 following her husband’s death.

In her work with UNO’s library, Windell was responsible for conserving and making accessible the archives of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, which was given to the University. She directed the archival project and secured grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to help microfilm the antebellum case files. She also assisted students, scholars and other researchers in exploring the collection—one that, over the years, served as the underpinnings of hundreds of books, papers and articles.

A Missouri native, Windell graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stephens College in Columbia, Mo. and pursued graduate studies at the University of Minnesota. Before coming to UNO, she was the head of reference and research at the Hagley Library in Wilmington, Del.

Windell routinely presented at professional conferences and contributed book chapters and articles to a variety of publications. She was a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists, the Society of Southwest Archivists, the Society of American Archivists, the Southern Historical Association and the Louisiana Historical Association, among others.

Those who knew her say she counted UNO’s staff and faculty among her closest friends, and she was always unfailingly helpful to students. For years, she underwrote a lecture series in memory of her late husband, a series that brought internationally known European historians to campus and endowed the George G. Windell Memorial Prize in History for the best master’s of arts thesis in a given year.

Windell moved to Plattsburg, Mo., following Hurricane Katrina and retired from the University in 2006. She remained living in Plattsburg near relatives until her death, but as a note in her obituary from the Clinton County Leader there states, “She loved living by family, but her heart belonged to New Orleans.”

Preceded in death by her parents, husband, brother and sister-in-law, Windell is survived by several nieces, nephews and their children. Her cremated remains have been placed near her husband’s at Arlington National Cemetery.