Dr Alice Prochaska
MA, DPhil, FRHistS
Telephone: Work 270630
Dr Alice Prochaska was elected Principal of Somerville in the summer of 2009, and took up the position in September 2010.
Dr Prochaska received both her BA and D.Phil. in Modern History from the University of Oxford, where she studied at Somerville College. She started her career as a museum curator and subsequently as an archivist at the Public Record Office (now the National Archives). From 1984 to 1992 she was the administrator and deputy to the director of the University of London's Institute of Historical Research. From 1992 to 2001 she served as Director of Special Collections at the British Library, with responsibility for Maps, Manuscripts, Music, the National Sound Archive, the Oriental and India Office Collections, and Philatelic Collections. Among her professional roles during the 1990s, she was a convener of a research seminar on Contemporary British History, served as a Vice President of the Royal Historical Society, a governor of London Guildhall University and Chair of the National Council on Archives. In 1989 to 1990 she was a member of the special government committee that designed the first UK National Curriculum in History.
In August 2001 Dr Prochaska took up the position of University Librarian at Yale University in Connecticut, where she remained until August 2010, heading one of the great research libraries of the world. At Yale she was a fellow of Morse College, served on the council of the Women's Faculty Forum, chaired the Trustees of the Lewis Walpole Library, and served on the Board of Yale University Press and the Advisory Council of the Yale Center for British Art. Priorities for the Yale Library during her tenure included the development of international collections and professional links with libraries in Africa, Asia and Europe; work with schools and community organisations locally and globally; and the creation of a robust digital service to the research community.
Beyond Yale, she served on the Boards of the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) and the Digital Library Federation, and as a member of the Global Resources Advisory Committee of the AAU/ARL(Association of American Universities and the Association of Research Libraries). She also served on various committees of the Association of Research Libraries. Her most recent roles within the North American research library community were as chair of the Board of the Center for Research Libraries and chair of the ARL Special Collections Working Group which issued recommendations for the building and maintenance of primary resources for research in all formats, in the digital era. During a period of sabbatical leave prior to leaving Yale in 2010, she did research on the subject of cultural restitution and the roots, especially in World War II, of modern approaches to international heritage and the ownership of cultural assets: a field with which she became familiar as a practitioner during her period of service at the British Library, and on which she has researched and published since then and hopes to publish more.
Dr Prochaska has broadcast and lectured extensively, and a full list of her publications can be found here. She remains a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and holds Honorary Fellowships at the Institute of Historical Research and Royal Holloway, University of London. She also serves as a trustee of the Institute of Historical Research and is chairman of the Sir Winston Churchill Archives Trust.