Robert H. Bahmer (1904-90)
AHA Staff, November 1990
Robert H. Bahmer, long-time resident of the Washington area and fourth Archivist of the United States, died on March 14 at the age of 86.
Born in North Dakota, Dr. Bahmer graduated from North Dakota State Teacher's College, obtained a master's degree from the University of Colorado, and in 1941 was awarded the Ph.D. degree in American history by the University of Minnesota.
He joined the staff of the National Archives in 1936. A specialist in records management, Dr. Bahmer was loaned by the Archives to the Navy Department in 1942 to serve for nearly a year as the Navy's chief of archival services. Later he transferred to the War Department to become deputy chief of the Records Management Branch of the Adjutant General's Office where he shared responsibility for developing the first comprehensive records management program for the entire War Department.
In 1948, he was named a consultant to the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the government, chaired by former President Herbert Hoover. In June of 1948 he returned to the National Archives to serve as deputy to the Archivist of the United States Wayne C. Grover.
Dr. Bahmer was appointed Archivist in 1966. As the fourth Archivist, he oversaw the operations of the National Archives and Records Service and also served as chair of the National Historical Publications Commission, the grant-making body of the National Archives. He retired in March of 1968.
Dr. Bahmer received the Distinguished Service Award of the General Services Administration in 1960. He was also the recipient of the George Norlin Award in 1967, the highest award bestowed by the Associated Alumni of the University of Colorado. In 1968, he received an honorary LLD degree from the University of North Dakota.
He served as president of the Society of American Archivists in 1962 and as Secretary General of the International Council on Archives for several years. He was a member of the American Historical Association and an ex-officio member of the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission.
Dr. Bahmer is survived by his daughter and two sons.